In Italian, “gelato” is the word used for ice cream, but ice cream and gelato are not one and the same. Although they start with similar ingredients, the way that gelato is made is completely different from ice cream; this is why it is not only richer, more delicious and better for you, but it should also be your preferred choice for a tasty after-dinner or midday sweet.
There are several differences between ice cream and gelato. Gelato contains very little egg, if any at all, and has less cream than ice cream. It is also processed through a different method. Ice cream is churned at a much faster rate, which incorporates more air into its production. That makes ice cream a lot less dense, meaning less rich than its gelato counterpart. Most ice cream is made with a high amount of cream and eggs and frozen while it is being churned, which makes it such a creamy delicacy. Unfortunately, most commercial ice cream manufacturers also use plant gums, stabilizers, and other additives that make it a less healthy alternative than gelato.
Even the FDA regulates gelato and ice cream differently. For ice cream to be classified as such, it has to contain a minimum of 10% fat. If it contains more than 1.4% egg yolk, then it has to be called “frozen custard,” “French custard” or “French ice cream.” It is hard to imagine that a dessert can have so many stipulations in a name, but it does.
Why Gelato is better
Gelato contains only a fraction of the calories that the average ice cream has. It also has half the fat and about two-thirds the amount of sugar, yet it tastes just as delicious — if not more so. When you taste frozen treats, the fat content coats your taste buds so that you aren’t able to experience the full flavor of what you are eating. That is why gelato, with its lower fat content, tastes so much bolder and flavorful than ice cream. As a result, gelato doesn’t have to have as much sugar for it to taste as delectable as ice cream.
The only drawback to gelato is that the fat content is based on ounces. Since it is denser than ice cream, if you eat the same amount ounce per ounce, then you might be consuming the same amount of fat and calories. But most people don’t need as much gelato to get their sugar fix. Since it is more filling and has a richer flavor, getting too much of a good thing comes much more quickly. When eating gelato, you can feed your sweet tooth with much less sugar and fat.
The consistency is much different
When you scoop ice cream, it can be as hard as a rock. Gelato is served, stored, and made at a much higher temperature, which makes it much easier to scoop. When you want a taste, you don’t have to take it from the freezer and wait for it to melt a bit before you can dig in. It has a consistency similar to frozen yogurt, so it is ready to eat right out of the freezer. No more chipping away or putting the scoop in warm water. No tricks are needed to enjoy a tasty scoop of gelato instantly.
It is available in dairy-free varieties
Unlike ice cream, there are many dairy-free varieties of gelato that taste just as good as their dairy counterparts. Technically called “sorbetto,” they are fruit-based “ice cream-like” gelatos that have a similar consistency to ice cream without the dairy. If you have to forego the ice cream due to dairy sensitivities, try giving gelato a chance. You just might find that you like it better. As it also comes in chocolate-based flavors, you will have a hard time recognizing any differences from ice cream.
Gelato has been around for centuries but is just starting to catch on in America — with good reason. It’s much healthier and richer than ice cream, and the varieties and taste sensations that come with this fantastic Italian treat are endless.