If you’ve ever visited Italy, you’ve more that likely had the pleasure of experiencing velvety, luscious Italian gelato or possibly an icier version similar to American ice milk gone Italian ice. Maybe you assumed the only reason it seemed richer and more flavorful than American ice cream was because you were enjoying it in the crisp Italian air singing “Three Coins in the Fountain” at the piazza near the Fountain of Trevi in Rome as opposed to on your couch back home watching reruns of “Gilligan’s Island.” No offense, Gilligan, I love you just as much today as I did back then!
There are actually a few main differences between gelato and ice cream. Ice cream has a minimum of 10 percent fat, gelato is made with a greater proportion of whole milk to cream, so it contains about five to seven percent fat.
Nonetheless, don’t expect to get Italian gelateria-style results by attempting to make gelato in your home ice cream contraption: Gelato is churned at a slower speed than ice cream, so it’s denser because not as much air is whipped into the mixture. Italian Gelato contains about 25 to 30 percent air, while ice cream can contain as much as 50 percent air. Lastly, while ice cream is typically served frozen, gelato is normally stored and served at a slightly warmer temperature, so it’s not quite completely frozen.
As for that amazing, rich flavor, there’s not as much fat in gelato, it doesn’t coat the mouth in the same way. So the flavors are more intense.
However, there is one thing gelato and ice cream do have in common: both bring back memories of childhood. The hot summer days when we begged for just one scoop of the frozen stuff to cool our weary heads and flavor our self-indulgent hearts.