Vanilla - a classic flavour for hand-made gelato

Vanilla - a classic flavour for hand-made gelato

Vanilla is an ingredient that is commonly used in cooking in a variety of recipes, from sweets and creams to liqueurs and beverages, for making gelato, and also in some savoury dishes.

Vanilla (Vanilla planifolia) is a vine in the Orchid family (Orchidaceae), native to Central America. Distinctive and famous for its large fragrant yellow flowers, vanilla is one of the most popular flavourings in the world. Vanilla extract comes from its pods, the long, thin fruits of the plant which, once they have turned dark, can be picked and used as a spice in a variety of sweet and savoury recipes.

Vanilla extract has a long history, dating back to the Aztecs, who used the spice “Tlixochill” to sweeten their own drinks, and give their infusions a more delicate flavour. Vanilla began to be imported and sold in Europe in the 16th century, when it was brought to Europe by the Spanish. Initially, vanilla flavourings were considered a privilege, used by nobles to spice their beverages, but in the 19th and 20th centuries, vanilla began to be used as a spice in its own right, for example as an essential ingredient for making classic vanilla-flavoured hand-made gelato.

Today, vanilla extract is used in many recipes to flavour liqueurs or beverages, to sweeten desserts, to make exotic dishes, but also for making hand-made gelato. Among the different varieties of vanilla are Bourbon vanilla from Madagascar which is considered the finest and premium quality, followed by Tahiti vanilla with its aftertaste of plum and finally Vanilla Tahitensis with its taste reminiscent of aniseed.  

Vanilla - a classic flavour for 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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