In case you are not familiar with what gelato exactly is (I wasn’t until I was literally in Italy), it is for lack of a better technical description – Italian ice cream.
When it comes down to it, the two are quite similar, but also quite different.
Gelato is more dense and the flavors are more rich and intense. The American counterpart has more air incorporated into the mix causing it to be less dense and more textured due to the ice crystals. Both are served in cups, or cones, and you can choose from a variety of flavors.
Gelato is a real treat and is served in stores just like ice cream stores, but instead of an ice cream shop -you would call it a gelato shop – in other words, a Gelateria. These are very popular in Italy and from personal experience can tell you the Italians not only take pride in their food – but their desserts as well!
100% Homemade Gelato from Scratch
The first way of making gelato is 100% homemade. This is a process that involves the use of a stove, and a freezer. In general, you mix the eggs and sugar separately while you bring the milk and cream to a near boil. Mix and cook until it hits the right consistency (when it coats the spoon is a good indicator) remove from the heat and remove any lumps and make sure to get it super smooth.
Stir it and cool it down – keep stirring frequently until the temperature has fully cooled down.
Next, you then move it to the freezer checking it every 30 minutes or so and giving it a really good stir. This helps keep the freezing process evenly distributed throughout the mixture and also mixes some air into the mixture. Without the air, it would become way too dense.
Once finished, you can keep it in the same container or transfer to a new container made specifically for holding ice cream or gelato. You can purchase them online. Eat the frozen dessert within a few months… as if that is hard to do!
From Scratch + From Machine
The second method is mezzo-mezzo (half and half) where you use both the stove and freezer, but also an ice cream maker. One of the downsides of using the first method is the process of mixing it periodically on and off is time consuming. By using the ice cream maker, you are able to first blend the ingredients of the stove to create the mixture, then chill it down just as above.
Then once cooled, add it to the ice cream maker to blend it while it brings the temperature down. Once it is cooled or thickened, you will need to transfer the mixture to plastic containers and leave it in a freezer for approximately 8 hours.
Making Gelato only with a Gelato Maker
The third method is the most convenient method as it requires only a machine made specifically for gelato. In this method, you add the ingredients to the machine and in over simplified terms, you turn the machine on and let it work its magic.
Some machines will require you to still freeze it for 8 hours before it is ready to be consumed. That’s fine and does eliminate the need for any use of a stove and cooling over an ice bowl. These machines still work real well as long as you don’t need the dessert right away.
Other machines such as the Delonghi 6000 which I’m a fan of makes a single batch in about 30-40 minutes. They are specifically designed to prevent too much air from incorporating into the mixture which is key to true gelato. They are able to freeze the ice cream within the machine thanks to a self containing a refrigerating compressor which freezes the mixture for you.
Any time you use a machine, whether a cheap $50 one or a top of the line one for much more, make sure to always read the directions. You’ll learn some tips and tricks such as always adding nuts, fruits or berries at the end of the mixing cycle not the beginning.
You can also invest in some ice cream or gelato recipe books too which are helpful especially when starting out and not being sure of the exact measurements you might need for various flavors.
No matter which method you choose above for your gelato making, the main benefit to this is the ability to have complete control over the ingredients and flavors used. You can make 100% organic gelato, you can make add in your own chocolate chips, or a mix of nuts, or make a blueberry concoction too.
For those who enjoy thinking up their own creations – this is one type of dessert you’ve got to try – regardless of which method you decide to use.