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December 16, 2022

Gelato vs ice cream. Yes, they are NOT the same thing! Here’s the difference

Gelato VS ice cream: what's the difference?

Gelato vs ice cream: a neverending story. Most of the people, except the ones who work in the gelato industry, usually get shocked when they realize the unspeakable truth. Gelato and ice cream do have a difference: they ARE NOT the same thing!

We know what you are possibly thinking right now. 

“These Italians…”

Well, we are. And as Italians, we’re definitely picky when it comes to food!

Besides, gelato is one of our national prides. But regarding the gelato and ice cream difference, it’s not about us being picky. They are different things by definition.

In our previous articles, we explained what you should know before opening your own gelato shop, and we collected some very useful data about this industry in the US.

In this blog post, we are briefly going to explain what’s the true difference between gelato and ice cream.

Read it till the end!

Ingredients and fats

Which ingredients differ between gelato and ice cream? And why is this so relevant?

First of all, you should know that gelato and ice cream basically share the same ingredients. Both are indeed made by dairy, sugar and air. Flavors can be added in different ways.

Dairy can be milk, cream or, more frequently, a mix of those two. Both gelato and ice creams are the results of the blend of dairy, sugar and air. Then, where does the gelato and ice cream difference lie?

The answer is: in the proportions.

Ice cream has more cream than milk, whereas gelato on the other hand has more milk than cream. This is a highly relevant difference because it alters both their flavor profile and their nutritional attributes. Moreover, very often ice cream also includes egg yolks to add texture, spiking up the amount of calories.

Cream contains a lot more fats than milk, making ice cream way less healthy when compared to gelato. According to the FDA (the National Food and Drug Administration), ice cream is a frozen dessert with at least 10% of calories coming from fats. But usually the amount of fat is at least 15-20%, up to 25%.

Gelato, on the other hand, usually stays in a fat range of 5-7%, which makes it easier to digest and overall better for your health.

Air & Texture

A second key element that makes gelato and ice cream different products, is the process which incorporates the air into the dairy-sugar blend.

The dairy and the sugar are mixed and pasteurized; then you can add the flavors. The next step is incorporating the air to compose the texture. In order to do so, you need to churn the mix with a certain overrun that depends on your recipe.

The overrun is the amount of air incorporated into the mix, and it may vary according to the recipe. Typically, ice cream has high overrun, while gelato has low overrun. That means ice cream incorporates much more air than gelato.

This depends on the churning speed: ice cream is churned faster than gelato. The more the churning speed, the more the air incorporated; the more the air incorporated, the bigger the volume of the product.

Gelato, due to its slower churning speed, includes less air and as a consequence it keeps a more compact density and texture. That’s why it remains silky and smooth, caressing your tongue while you eat it.

Make a high quality artisanal gelato and you won’t ever find any dull trace of ice crystals in your mouth.

A rainbow of flavors

As we just pointed out, gelato is way superior both in terms of healthiness and texture. And these surely are great things.

But what about the taste?

Let’s be honest: people eat gelato not just because it’s healthier or smoother. People prefer gelato for all these reasons, but also, and especially, because it tastes better.

This is not a coincidence or a personal opinion. Gelato is superior to ice cream in terms of flavors for three main reasons.

The first reason lies in the fats we already talked about. The ice cream’s bigger amount of butterfats makes the product less tasty because, once on your tongue, they slow the sensitivity to the flavors of your taste buds. The more the butterfats, the longer it takes for you to feel the flavors.

The second reason is similar to the first one, and it depends on the temperature. Gelato is produced and stored at a higher temperature than ice cream. Ice cream is frozen and kept around 0°F, whereas gelato usually stays around 15°F. This is a huge difference, because the cold inhibits the tongue’s taste buds. Gelato is softer and warmer, therefore, immediately releases an explosion of flavors while melting in your mouth.

The third and last reason is related to the flavors usually used. Being ice cream less performing in terms of taste, producers usually choose cheaper ingredients. More often, they use artificial ones, such as premade powders and mixes. Also, they frequently add a ton of super sweet toppings to compensate for the lack of natural flavors. By contrast, gelato is usually a gourmet dessert packed with healthy flavors coming from natural ingredients.

So, given the gelato VS ice cream difference, which one should I choose?

Gelato vs ice cream: in the end, who wins?

As we have already pointed out, gelato is usually a much higher quality product rather than ice cream.

It’s indeed healthier, superior in terms of quality of ingredients, texture and flavors, and as a consequence, even the worst quality gelato is normally more expensive than ice cream. Which means that a gelato shop can sell its products with higher margins and better customers’ satisfaction.

But of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean you compulsorily have to choose or prefer gelato to ice cream. People are different and have different flavor profiles, so you should be free to eat and produce the one that fits your own taste buds best.

On the other hand, we at MODALiTA we always focus on quality and strive to work with food businesses which do the same.

As Italians and as experts on the matter, we highly recommend new entrepreneurs to at least keep in mind these differences in order to make your own well mulled over choices.

And if you decide to open or improve your own business by focusing on a top notch gelato rather than on its cheaper, lower profile icy cousin, we’re here to drive you towards success.

Check our top class gelato equipment right now, and hit us up to get a quote!

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