The quality of hand-made gelato

The quality of hand-made gelato

The quality of a hand-made gelato depends on various factors which we call characteristics  and which involve several aspects of the product. 

Luca Caviezel, one of the greatest experts on Italian hand-made gelato, divides the characteristics of gelato into two main categories:

  • Objective values: mainly linked to the gelato-making processes, the ingredients used and their respective ratios.
  • Subjective values: dependent on personal opinion and suitability for specific occasions.

Body

Gelato which “runs” is too soft and so lacks consistency. Gelato which “snaps” has too much consistency and becomes “chewy”. Gelato has to be “palatable” which means semi-hard. The best body for gelato is consistent, homogeneous, harmonious and looks even. It should not have a consistency that is too watery, gelatinous or floury.

Structure

This corresponds to the “texture” of the product sold to consumers. An excellent gelato is the fruit of quality, healthy and balanced ingredients, but also careful attention to practical detail. One false move and the structure of the gelato can be altered in some way. The variables for this characteristic are as follows: lightness or heaviness (according to how much air is incorporated during batch freezing); “coarseness” (ice crystals that are too thick due to mistakes in the freezing and hardening phase); “sandiness” (excess lactose); “butteriness” (smoothing process incorrect).

Nutritional qualities

Gelato has to be a complete, balanced food in nutritional terms and preferably have no contraindications (such as being too fatty).

Inside a good hand-made gelato we should find water, carbohydrates (including sugars), fats (animal or vegetable), proteins, mineral salts and vitamins.

Organoleptic qualities

This area involves a more personal area – the sense of taste. But it is also the most important factor in the customer’s choice of whether or not to accept the gelato.

In general, a good hand-made gelato should

  •  have a smooth surface that is slightly porous
  •  natural attractive color
  • fresh taste
  • specific flavor (clearly identifiable).

and should avoid:

  • rough appearance
  • granular appearance
  • garish colors
  • rancid stale flavor
  • non-specific flavor, hard to identify 
The quality of hand-made gelato
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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