Differences between artisan Italian gelato, industrial ice cream and soft ice cream

Differences between artisan Italian gelato, industrial ice cream and soft ice cream

Often the differences between italian gelato, industrial ice cream and soft ice cream are not clear to everyone, even though in Italy the fact that there are so many gelato parlours as well as a history of hand-made gelato making would seem to facilitate this distinction.

Hand-made gelato involves producing small quantities, in a workshop, and selling them direct to the consumer, although today a number of gelato parlour chains have begun to open up, with a central workshop that distributes the mixtures to the various outlets where an attendant then handles the final stage of production – batch freezing – before providing customers with the finished product.

Gelato was originally designed as a product intended for immediate consumption and, unlike industrial scale ice cream, does not need to be kept in cold rooms until it is distributed and sold. Indeed, as ice cream is manufactured centrally and in huge quantities, it is designed to be stored for long periods in cold rooms.

From this point of view, hand-made gelato and ice cream might look similar, but especially when served up in tubs, the differences stand out a mile.

There are a number of other differences between the two products as regards production, production temperature and conservation:

• ice cream is produced using continuous freezers, generally being conveyed through a freezer tunnel at -40°, then held in a cold room (at the factory) for long enough to “ensure that the product temperature at the core is at least -18°C” (maximum limit imposed in Europe by the Code of Conduct for industrial gelato products). At a technical level, the product needs to be that cold both to give it a longer shelf life, and to facilitate the other pre-sale phases (shipment in refrigerated trucks to another cold room and/or to the client’s distributor and/or wholesaler) .

• hand-made gelato is produced using a discontinuous batch freezer and is then put out onto display with perhaps just a brief stopover in a cabinet freezer (or in a blast chiller at -40°) to make it even colder, as the temperature in the sales counter is lower (-15°) than when it is removed from the batch freezer (-12°).

• ice cream is produced in a continuous freezer; freezing is performed with a continuous input of mixture and a continuous outflow of finished product (in a continuous cycle). In this case, it stays little more than a minute in the freezing chamber where the mixture is transformed into ice cream (compared to the 10-15 minutes needed to make hand-made gelato). 

• the volume of ice cream generally increases far more than hand-made gelato does, as so much more air is blown into gelato (by law, up to 100% of its weight is allowed), which acts as a thermal cushion and so melts much more slowly. This means that 1000 ml of industrial ice-cream could weigh only 500 grams.

• Creamy hand-made gelato contains much less fat (6-10% in hand-made gelato, 8-12% in industrial ones)

Soft ice cream is also very popular abroad because it requires less investment in terms of machines, showcases and equipment, and is a completely different product from the first two: it is produced directly in a specialised production machine. It gets its name from the fact that it is squeezed out of the machine onto the cone at a higher temperature (-4/-6°C) than hand-made gelato or industrial ice cream (-13°/-18°C) and so looks softer, creamier and less cold. Compared to hand-made gelato, it contains more fats and less sugar, so its air content is above 50%.

Want more information on how to open a hand-made gelato parlour or soft ice cream outlet? Write to us at info@ilgelatoartigianale.info
 

 

Differences between artisan Italian gelato, industrial ice cream and soft ice cream
Brioche with gelato
Brioche with gelato

Sliced open and filled with gelato, with cream, or even with both, the brioche with gelato is a typical Sicilian speciality which has recently been exported to the rest of Italy; it is becoming increasingly common to see gelato shops offering this delicacy, with regional variations such as croissants and buns or the truly Sicilian “tuppo” brioche.

Vegan gelato, the new trend of Italian gelato-making.
Vegan gelato, the new trend of Italian gelato-making.

The last SIGEP, the International Homemade Gelato, Pastry, and Bakery Fair, in Rimini, saw a trend among all of the major companies in the industry to offer products – and in some cases an entire product line – for vegans. 

Part 2 - Pasteurization and homogenization of italian gelato
Part 2 - Pasteurization and homogenization of italian gelato

After selecting, assaying and processing the raw materials with the other ingredients, the next stages in making hand-made gelato are pasteurization and homogenization.

Part 3 -Maturation and Batch freezing of Italian gelato
Part 3 -Maturation and Batch freezing of Italian gelato

After pasteurization and homogenization, it is time for the mixture to undergo maturation and batch-freezing, which are crucial stages for a good hand-made gelato.

How to select ingredients for your gelato
How to select ingredients for your gelato

Why do manufacturer of ingredients for gelato parlours offer such a wide range of different bases? As user requirements differ so widely, the products are designed to help the gelato-maker to get consistently balanced mixtures, for creamier, more scoopable gelato.

Investments, costs and revenues in opening a gelato shop
Investments, costs and revenues in opening a gelato shop

Over the course of time, Italian gelato has earned itself a reputation for continuous innovation in production methods, technologies and ingredients, often dictated by the needs of both practising and would-be gelato-makers.

Differences between artisan Italian gelato, industrial ice cream and soft ice cream
Differences between artisan Italian gelato, industrial ice cream and soft ice cream

Often the differences between italian gelato, industrial ice cream and soft ice cream are not clear to everyone, even though in Italy the fact that there are so many gelato parlours as well as a history of hand-made gelato making would seem to facilitate this distinction.

How to make a good hand-made gelato
How to make a good hand-made gelato

Making gelato used to involve a machine known as a sorbetière, refrigerated using ice and salt, with the mix being batch frozen by hand using a long spatula-shaped stick. Luckily, things have changed quite a bit since then! 

Selecting the gelato ingredients
Selecting the gelato ingredients

Choosing the right raw materials is a fundamental part of making outstanding hand-made gelato: the finest milk, eggs and sugar, and the best semi-finished ingredients and semi-finished products are a key component in the creativity of every craftsman.

The role of semi-finished products in gelato-making
The role of semi-finished products in gelato-making

Compound ingredients for gelato or semi-finished products are mixtures of ingredients in powder or paste that the gelato-maker keeps by his side when preparing mixtures (stabilization) and giving them flavor.

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