Artisanal Gelato: a brief definition

Artisanal gelato is a high-quality food, the result of the skillful blending of selected and balanced ingredients, expertly carried out by the gelato maker in their production laboratory. This process, based on the gelato maker's creativity, personal recipes, as well as entrepreneurial choices, gives life to a unique product, loved worldwide.

The preparation of artisanal gelato begins with the creation of a blend of premium ingredients, which is transformed from liquid to solid, pasty, soft, and creamy through a combined process of mixing and partial freezing in an open-cylinder batch freezer. This method allows for the natural incorporation of air, without resorting to forced air systems, giving the gelato a superior texture and quality.

Artisanal gelato is distinguished by its freshness, creaminess, and readiness for consumption, as the negative temperature is an intrinsic characteristic of the product and not due to extreme freezing processes.

For the preparation of homemade artisanal gelato, fundamental primary ingredients such as milk and/or its derivatives, cream, fats, eggs or egg products, sugars, water, emulsifiers-thickeners (neutral), etc., are used, to which secondary characteristic ingredients are added to complete the blend, such as fruit or its derivatives, composite ingredients (semi-finished products), creams (pastes), cocoa, chocolate, dried fruit, etc.

During the preparation of artisanal gelato, the gelato maker exclusively uses a batch freezer with an open cylinder, actively intervening in all phases of the production process.

The main stages of artisanal gelato processing include blending and emulsification, pasteurization, maturation, batch freezing, chilling, and finally, storage and display for sale to consumers.

1. Blending and Emulsification - It is carried out with a mixer (immersion, countertop, pedestal) to properly prepare the various ingredients for subsequent processing. For fruit gelato, it allows reducing cut pieces into pulp, and for milk-based mixes, it amalgamates the milk base with the characteristic ingredients.

2. Pasteurization - Pasteurization involves heating the mix at variable temperatures, ranging from 65 to 90 degrees, depending on the type of mix, followed by a subsequent cooling process. This procedure is preferably done for mixes containing milk and becomes mandatory when using raw milk. Pasteurization is carried out through a specific machine called a pasteurizer, which blends the composition, improving its overall characteristics and reducing bacterial load. Alternatively, a combined machine consisting of a batch freezer and a heating chamber can be used.

3. Maturation - Maturation, performed or not by the gelato maker based on their production tradition, occurs after pasteurization and allows for the amalgamation and hydration of ingredients to achieve a more stable mix and better shelf life.

4. Batch Freezing - It occurs solely through open-cylinder batch freezers and is carried out using a combination of refrigeration and mechanical agitation. The batch freezing process must be rapid so that quick freezing results in small crystals for a better texture. Additionally, through agitation, the mix incorporates air, reaching the creamy-pasty consistency characteristic of traditional Italian gelato.

Depending on the gelato maker's production tradition, machines called "combined" can be used, which, having a direct connection managed by a valve between the heating tank and the freezing cylinder, allow for combining the pasteurization and batch freezing phases in a single machine.

5. Chilling - Chilling gelato after batch freezing is a process that has become widespread in recent years in gelato shops. It involves rapid cooling through a very powerful refrigerator. This process hinders the formation of large crystals in residual water and is useful during storage.

6. Storage and Display - Artisanal Gelato, being a fresh product usually made locally, is typically stored for short periods and displayed at service temperatures of approximately -11/-12°C in special bins and display cases during sales and overnight storage. For prolonged storage in specific refrigerators and/or cold rooms, the temperature should be below -18°C. The gelato then needs to be brought back to service temperature in bins and display cases for scooping.

7. Sale - Artisanal gelato is typically scooped to provide consumers with a creamy and velvety product and enhance taste perception.


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