How to make Italian artisan gelato. Let’s discover together this wonder of cold pastry that drives the world crazy.
Let’s start with a fundamental ingredient: sugar. This is the most important thing, not only for the sweet taste, but also and above all for its chemistry. In fact, it is precisely the sugar that does not allow the gelato to freeze excessively, giving creaminess to the dessert. It is therefore thanks to sugar that ice cream can be enjoyed in its soft form. The ancient Romans already knew cane sugar. They discovered with susprise that the Indian populations were able to produce “a honey without bees”. A very expensive ingredient to produce and transport. After the discovery of America and the spread of sugar cane in the new world, sugar price slowed down. While remaining an ingredient that few could afford to consume. So some scholars began a research aimed at extracting sugar from some other vegetable, the choice fell on beetroot.
Sugars for gelato.
Nowadays, gelato makers uses many different kind of sugars, not only glucose and fructose. The invert sugar, dextrose and maltodextrin are used as well. The selection of different types of sugars is what has allowed the gelato masters to create less cold and more palatable ice creams. The mix of sugars to be used is the real heart of the ice cream maker’s work, difficult to find one ready to reveal its formula.
Fats for gelato.
In addition to sugar, the use of milk proteins, locust bean gum or substances derived from other vegetables, terrestrial or marine, have changed the composition of ice cream. It is, therefore, a food that contains carbohydrates, fats and sugars. In addition to mineral salts and water. So a complete food whose proportions must be calculated mathematically. There is also a component of air, 20% that enters the mass thanks to freezing. Fats are mainly found in milk, cream, butter and eggs, but also in other ingredients.
Ice cream schools
How can we not imagine that in Italy, a country of food and wine diversity, there are different schools of thought in ice cream .. And indeed it is.
The Sicilian school, from which the tradition of the famous Procopio dei Coltelli, comes from, develops around the renowned pastry shops of Palermo and Catania. The largest and most prosperous cities in Sicily. Where the bourgeoisie went to get the sorbet, flavored with fruits, citrus fruits above all, orange blossoms. Here it was possible to stabilize the ice cream using starch. Obviously pistachio and coffee, so also chocolate are widely used products in Sicily. If you are lucky enough to visit this region, you will notice that the habits are different. In Sicily having breakfast with gelato (or granita) and brioche is typical as in Rome the cappuccino and croissant. There is also a jewel of pastry that represents the fusion between ice cream and Sicilian pastry: the cassata. That is a semifreddo composed of a solid part, ice cream and candied fruit.
The Venetian school
The Venetian tradition, of course, the primacy of milk and cream over that of water and fruit. Compared to Sicilian gelato parlor it is less sweet and richer in protein, such as eggs. The Venetian gelatieri, as we know, were absolutely renowned in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The award-winning Viennese patisserie, which made extensive use of fine ingredients, such as vanilla, lent itself to the creativity of Venetian ice cream makers. So the vanilla cream belongs strictly to the tradition of northern Italy. Even chocolate gelato, which in Sicily was prepared water-based, contained both milk and eggs in Northern Italy style.
How do you prepare a well-made ice cream? with mathematics
The first thing you need to do is choose quality basic ingredients. Then you will have to weigh them to balance them. A good gelato must contain a percentage of fat, water, sugars and proteins established at the table following a mathematical principle. Because ice cream is nothing but mathematics. Sugar, as mentioned, serves for flavor and to avoid freezing ice cream. Fats provide the solid base that supports mass and texture. To simplify we say that the weights of the main ingredients should be just under 20% sugars, 10% fats and 10% other solids.
The magic of cold in ice cream.
If we are making a cream based gelato it will be necessary to pasteurize, that is, assemble the ingredients and bring them for a few minutes to 85 ° C. This phase means to amalgamate the base and make it safer from any bacterial loads. It is optimal to pasteurize the mixture before blastening down quickly (+4°C). Later, the gelatiere pass the mixture to the machine (mantecatore) for few minutes at a certain temperature below zero. Before selling it, the ice cream maker again reduces the ice cream by about ten degrees. So, the gelato will have a better structure and will preserve better without hardening.
To know who invented gelato and its history read here.
When in Rome, visit with us some ice cream parlors, book your Espresso, Gelato & Tiramisù tour.