Each with their own sweetening and antifreeze properties, sugars are a key factor in making hand-made gelato. Sucrose, dextrose, invert sugar, fructose, glucose, isoglucose, honey, etc. all have their own characteristics that help us to create various different levels of sweetness in our hand-made gelato, but maintaining the same level of robustness, a gelato which is just as sweet, but with a different texture or a sweeter or less sweet gelato with different resistance to freezing.
To make a hand-made gelato that will satisfy the palate of our customers, we need to understand the different properties of sugars, and get a feel for what consumers are looking for in a gelato, in terms of sweetness and consistency.
For example, we have to bear in mind that mixing two sugars with a similar effect, often has an effect that is totally different from what we might have initially calculated. This effect, known as synergism, makes our hand-made gelato sweeter than we might have anticipated.
The quantity of sugar needed also varies according to the type of gelato: the creamier hand-made gelatos, which have a higher fat content, tend to contain less sugar, whereas those with lower fat content (fruit gelatos) need more sugars to reach the right percentage of total solids.
In terms of consumer tastes, here in Italy we need to bear in mind that people in most areas of the South tend to prefer a much sweeter taste. Conversely, most areas further north prefer a gelato that is less sweet, but with more cream in it. The use of sugars for making hand-made gelato changes according to the season. During spring and summer, consumers prefer a more tart, refreshing hand-made gelato, while in autumn and winter consumers go for a hand-made gelato that is sweeter, rich and nutritious.