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.

Historically, it was the gelato craftsman who prepared the semi-finished products in his kitchen to make his job easier during the busy season, to make up for the lack of fresh raw materials at some times of year or to standardize ingredients that are difficult to assay.

The increase in sales volumes, the legislation in force, the need to produce gelato with outstanding hygiene standards and, last but not least, the need for systematic research into meeting the needs and tastes of the consumer, saw the birth of this specific industry for hand-made gelato. Starting from the initial experience of the craftsmen, it has since become a vital link in the chain, alongside the machinery and equipment manufacturers.

As a general rule, compound ingredients can be found in all gelato parlours in the form of bases, supplements and pastes.

Bases and any supplements that might be used (designed to improve the performance of gelato in a few specific areas such as dripping, spreadability, etc.) are the highest expression of corporate research in the fields of rheology (the study of the behavior of fluids) and of emulsion. Over the years, semi-finished products have gone from being merely “service” products, i.e. neutral mixtures with dextrose and milk powder, to fat-containing products (which may be simple, pre-emulsified, or fractionated, according to the final result one wishes to obtain), proteins (foaming agents, binders, emulsifiers), fibers (soluble, partially soluble), intense sweeteners, flavorings and so on. When it comes to bases, research has also focused on finding a solution for various intolerances (using sugar-free and lactose-free bases), on following market trends on window presentations or on obtaining particularly “clean” labels (nutritionally balanced, with no additives, emulsifiers or artificial ingredients). These tools thus act as the base (hence the name) for creating a gelato that enables the expert craftsman to express the pinnacle of skill and imagination.

Pastes, on the other hand, come under the heading of flavoring compounds or flavor strengtheners. There are both simple oily pastes (hazelnut, pistachio, almonds, pine nuts) and compound ones (gianduja, white chocolate): the role of laboratories is to optimize flavor and carry out sometimes painstaking tests for hazardous pollutants (such as ochratoxins or aflatoxins) which are often too complex for small independent producers to perform. In addition, there is a whole range of other pastes where excellence means completeness and persistence of aromas and flavors, using the finest Italian produce (eggs, wine, fruit, spices, milk) creating preserves that are microbiologically pure (as they are added cold to the mixture, this is essential for product safety purposes) and can thus take pride of place within the Italian tradition and its exportability.

Finding the right combination of gelato-maker & compound ingredients is one of the factors that has made Italian gelato craftsmanship so famous, a Made in Italy product that is recognized abroad as the height of Italian quality and skill.

The role of semi-finished products in gelato-making
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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