Ice cream and gelato are popular sweet treats for people around the world. There is little doubt that both are a delicacy. They have been used as a popular frozen dessert in many settings as well as a refreshment and the perfect cool-down for people in fun situations, especially during warm summer months.
However, as much as there are similarities, there are also differences which warrant their use of separate names. These differences are also the reason why both ice cream and gelato are popular with varying groups of people; gelato sometimes considered as the ‘grown ups’ ice cream.
From how they are prepared to how they are stored, it is important to explore the contrasts for a more enlightening experience whether from a selling perspective or just for the enjoyment of both delicacies.
Here we pin point some of the main factors that make gelato different from ice cream.
Differences between Ice Cream and Gelato
Gelato and ice cream are prepared differently. Both delicacies are churned during preparation to incorporate air into the scoop. This, in turn, helps them gain the creamy feel you get when enjoying them.
The churning in the gelato making process is slower thus limiting the amount of air added into the scoop. Churning in ice cream is faster, allowing more air to be infused which in turn increases its volume. You are likely to find more air in cheap ice cream.
Ingredients used during preparation also play a major role in their differences. While the two have the same core ingredients it is the ratio that is a determining factor. Gelato has more milk content than ice cream, ice cream having a higher concentration of cream. Gelato also contains fewer egg yolks or no eggs at all.
Normally, ice cream has a wider array of flavours than gelato. There are thousands of weird and wonderful ice cream flavours available whereas typically gelato will have the core favourites such as vanilla, chocolate and common fruit flavours. Ice cream also includes combinations of flavours which you are not likely to find in gelato.
Gelato is lower in fat than ice cream. This not only means it’s a healthy alternative but also that the flavour is considered more vibrant and intense.
Both gelato and ice cream are served under different temperatures. Ice cream is best-served ice cold and has a more solid texture, while gelato is served at a warmer temperature hence having a softer, silkier feel.
Storage and Display
Consistency during storage of both products is vital as frequent fluctuations in temperatures will have a negative impact on the crystals formed within the product itself and therefore the end results.
Both require cold temperatures in order to maintain their consistency. Ice cream is generally served between -12°C to -18°C while Gelato is served at around -11°C. If you’re unsure which type of equipment would be compatible for each dessert, take a look at our handy in-depth ice cream refrigeration buying guide or get in touch and speak to one of our experts.
Features of a Commercial Ice Cream Freezer
Ice cream freezers are uniquely designed to provide the right conditions for the preservation of the ice cream. The right conditions allow ice cream to maintain its physical qualities as well as its flavour.
- Temperature range - Ice cream requires extremely cold temperatures to retain all its qualities. An ice cream storage freezer should be able to maintain an even temperature between approximately -14°C to -24°C, ideally set greater than -18°C. Ice cream display freezers should generally hold temperatures between -12°C and -18°C.
- Storage or display - Most ice cream freezers are used for commercial purposes hence equipment will be durable and efficient. Storage units usually resemble a chest freezer with a transparent lid which allows customers to view and select their choice of ice cream. An ice cream display freezer adopts more of a counter format, holding ice creams at optimum temperatures for scooping in an open freezer section with a glass guard feature to protect contents whilst still allowing full visibility.
- Type of cooling - Usually, cooling of ice cream has to happen rapidly and consistently to guarantee the quality of the results. Freezers use two types of cooling; ventilated or static. Static relies on the natural circulation of cold air while ventilated uses fans to help move and circulate air around the freezer.
Differences between Ice Cream and Gelato Freezers
Given the differences in the products, it is normal to expect differences in the freezers used to store and display them. They include:
Both gelato and ice cream require different temperature ranges to maintain their respective qualities. A gelato display freezer needs to be able to achieve temperatures ranging somewhere between -10°C to -15°C (approx.), the upper limit of this range being something that select ice cream freezers should be able to accommodate. Ice cream displays require temperatures of -12°C to -18°C (approx.) to remain soft enough to scoop. Storage conditions for both may often be only slightly colder than the temperatures at which they are displayed.
While ice cream freezers are available with either ventilated or static cooling it is recommended that ventilated systems be used for gelato. Ventilated equipment is less likely to suffer from warm spots, meaning conditions are much more consistent – exactly the environment needed for perfect gelato. Static cooling units are generally not considered suitable for gelato.
The design is actually rather similar between both gelato and ice cream equipment. Storage freezers often resemble commercial chest freezers and are available with solid or glass lids. Display freezers are typically more aesthetically pleasing, with a freezer well in which to hold ice cream or gelato pans and a glass cover or guard to protect products whilst on display. Customers can select their flavour and the Ice cream or gelato can be served straight from the display.
Understanding the fundamental differences between ice cream and gelato and how to store and display these cold treats in the best possible condition, is a sure way to make certain that they remain undoubtedly the stars of summer.