About Italian gelato, its origins, production and nutritional information
Italian gelato is loved worldwide. It is sweet, creamy and tasty, characteristics that make it desirable for each season of the year and each moment of the day, not only as a summer dessert.
Italians invented the Gelato and introduced it all over the world: today Italy is the largest producer of ice cream in Europe, with a large variety of gelato products. Many gelato specialties derive their recipes from the ancient handcraft traditions, especially from Sicily. Among the most famous gelato specialities we can find tartufo, cassata, sorbets and gelato cakes.
Rome gelateria map
Origins of Italian gelato
Gelato was officially born in the 16th century, but ice and snow-made desserts, which are very similar to ‘slushee’ or Italian “granita”, date back to the Roman times. Ice cream was officially served for the very first time in 1565, at the court of Cosimo de’ Medici.
The first gelato was created by Bernardo Buontalenti, artist and engineer from Florence, who invented a machine to freeze milk, wine and fruit. This enabled all of these substances to have a creamy consistency. The marriage between Caterina de’ Medici and the King of France, Henry II, contributed in spreading ice cream at the French court. Since then. Italian ice cream became popular in every European court.
Industrial production of gelato began in the nineteenth century, in the United States. Baltimore hosted the first prototype for the creation of non-artisanal ice cream, in 1851. This was thanks to a wealthy milk trader who, trying to turn his daily milk excess into an icy cream, created the ice cream. Italy’s first industrial gelato appeared on the market in 1949 and was called ‘fiordilatte’. Ten years later, in 1959, the famous cornetto was born.
Production of Italian gelato
Today, the modern Italian ice cream industry is working on a variety of high quality innovations, differentiated by season and occasion. To this end, gelato has become a part of every-day shopping.
Gelato is an iced cream created through the inflation of air. Water is the main ingredient, followed by sugar and all the others ingredients that give taste and flavor. The first step of the process of production of gelato is mixing all the ingredients to make a liquid cream. The resulting liquid is pasteurized in order to eliminate the presence of pathogens (heat-treated at 80-85°C/ 176-185°F). After a quick cooling, the liquid is left at 4°C/ 39°F temperature for half a day, to favor a better combination of all its components. The next stage is freezing at – 5°C/ 23°F temperature. The mixture is stirred so that water forms microscopic ice crystals. The air is trapped and scattered in countless little bubbles. At this point, the ice cream is further cooled, reaching a -25°C/-13°F temperature, in order to become compact.
Ice cream must be stored at a temperature of -18°C/-0,4°F.
Gelato has great nutritional and energy properties and its easy digestibility. This makes it particularly suitable for the diet of children and sportsmen. Gelato is a well-balanced product that provides proteins, lipids and carbohydrates in the right proportion:
- 100 grams of milk-cream ice cream provide about 200 calories,
- 4 grams of proteins,
- 26 of carbohydrates
- 9 of fats
100 grams of fruit sorbet have a 120 calories, and are lower both in fats and calories, while higher in vitamins.