The Language of Gelato

Learning the language of gelato ensures that everyone from gelato-maker to gelato aficionado is able to savor every second of the gelato experience.

GELATO: In Italian, gelato means “frozen.” Gelato is a frozen dessert that originated in Italy and is known for its intense flavors, artisan presentation and nutritional value. Considered somewhat similar to ice cream, it differs in ingredients, production, flavoring, presentation, nutrition and texture.

Gelato is a natural product. The raw ingredients include milk (or water), sugar, and in some cases fruit. There are no artificial sweeteners or flavors in gelato, and it is lower in milk fat and has fewer calories than ice cream. Gelato also contains a good amount of protein,and because of the nutritional value and variety of flavors, gelato can be eaten at any time, day or night.

SORBETTO: Sorbetto is an American term for an even healthier version of gelato because it is made with water instead of milk, making it fat-free and dairy-free with a fruit-based flavor. In Italy, whether it is made with water or milk, it is still referred to as gelato.

BASE: The base is the starting point for gelato and sorbetto. Different types of bases create different levels of creaminess, texture and blending of flavors. There are milk-based bases, water-based bases and dietetic bases.

  • Display Case – Provides an eye-appealing display and maintains the appropriate/desired temperature for serving. Essential for every gelateria.

FLAVORS/PASTES: Flavor is what sets gelato apart from other frozen desserts. Gelato flavors are especially intense and are added to the gelato base in the form of a paste. See Flavors.

FILLINGS, SAUCES & TOPPINGS: Even gelato can be enhanced with Arabeschi® or Guarnizioni.

  • Arabeschi® – Doubles as a topping and filler. Adds flavor, texture and helps decorate gelato, mousse and semifreddo (a semi-frozen dessert such as a gelato cake).
  • Guarnizioni – Liquid toppings that contain more than 30 percent fruit and are perfect not only for gelato tubs, trays, mousses and semifreddo, but also for coffee, cappuccino and hot chocolate.

SEMIFREDDO: A semi-frozen dessert such as a gelato cake.

GELATO EQUIPMENT: Tools of the masters are required to create the best batch of gelato every time. Below is a sampling of the “must haves” for the serious gelato maker.

  • Spatula – A spatula is the preferred way to serve gelato rather than using a traditional ice cream scoop.
  • Spatulart – A special spatula with different edges to create unique gelato art.
  • Pasteurizer – A machine that heats up liquid ingredients to remove bacteria.
  • Blender – A hand-held machine with a cylindrical attachment that vibrates and mixes the milk, sugar and base, giving the product the right consistency.
  • Batch Freezer – Quickly freezes the gelato mixture and incorporates air to produce and control formation of small ice crystals necessary to give smoothness in body and a satisfactory overrun.
  • Gelato Pans – For storing and serving gelato. Once the semi-frozen mixture leaves the batch freezer it is placed in one of these pans.
  • Blast Freezer – Prepares gelato for the display case in less than 20 minutes.

PRODUCTION TERMINOLOGY:

  • Hot Process – One of two ways to make gelato. This process involves pasteurization.
  • Cold Process – The second of two ways to make gelato. Similar to hot process, except the pasteurization step is left out and the gelato goes directly into the batch freezer.
  • Overrun – Percentage of air in gelato. Gelato has much less air in it than ice cream, making it denser, more filling and more flavorful.
  • Emulsifiers – Essential ingredients of gelato, emulsifiers allow all components and ingredients to remain mixed together, and include mono- and di-glycerides.
  • Stabilizers – Serve as thickening agents in gelato. Many made from all-natural ingredients such as guar gum, locust bean gum and seaweed.
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