Gelato vs. Ice Cream: What’s the Difference?

Yes, they are not the same! Here are some differences between these popular icy desserts.

The origin of ice cream is still mysterious but many trace it back to China where frozen desserts included ingredients such as rice, spices, snow and milk. The history of Gelato goes back to the 16th century to Florence in Italy. Some say it started when Italian chef Procopio dei Coltelli started selling gelato in his café in Paris. It is also said to be started when Bernando Buontalenti made ice-cream made with milk, wine, lemon, orange and served it to Charles V, the king of Spain. Regardless of where the origin of these icy desserts was, it is indulged on by millions of people across the globe.

In 2016, Europe had Gelato sales of 9 billion euros with Italy contributing 30% of the European market, amounting to 2.7 billion euros. There are over 100,000 gelato parlors spread around the world. Aside from Europe it has gained popularity in China, Japan, Australia and the United States. There are 39,000 gelaterias in Italy that whipped 595 million liters i.e. 6.8 billion scopes of gelato in 2017 as noted by Bloomberg.

Ingredients: Gelato and ice-cream share a few ingredients such as dairy, sugar and air! The key difference is the amount of the same ingredients used to whip the dessert. Gelato is made with less cream and more milk and usually does not need egg yolks, which is common for an ice cream recipe. Gelato butterfat amounts 0% to 5% fat and Ice cream contains 12% to 25% butterfat. This makes the fat and calorie of Gelato substantially lower than ice cream.

Temperature: Italian Gelato is served at about 10-20 degrees while ice cream is usually served at 7-10 degree Fahrenheit.

Texture: Since Gelato is served warmer than ice cream, it is more smoother and silkier! It is also more dense and elastic than other ice cream. Gelato is more flavorful than ice-cream as ice cream is more buttery that coats the tongue quickly limiting one to experience the flavor as compared to Gelato.

Serving style: Ice cream is shaped into round balls by scooping it from a rounded spoon, which is possible as it has more fat helps make it firm. Gelato is served with a spatula that is flat and helps soften the dessert.

Nutrition: Half a cup of vanilla ice cream contains about 16 grams of sugar while the same serving of gelato has 17 grams of sugar. Ice cream is 10-15% fat whereas gelato has 4-9% fat. For an extra cold buttery feel on the treat, ice cream sure satisfies the dessert need. However, if you want a silkier frozen texture on your treat with low fat, gelato is your pick!

Thai-Italian Chamber of Commerce with Ospitalita’ Italiana is glad to announce the new certification for gelateria (ice cream parlor). The aim of this project is to promote and safeguard the authentic Italian Gelato production following the strict standard of the National Institute of Research on Tourism (IS.N.A.R.T).

Author: Ayusha Sigdel, Research Fellow at Thai-Italian Chamber of Commerce

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