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Italy has the best gelato in the world. Gelato was invented in Italy by a Florentine named Bernardo Buontalenti in the 16th century. He served it at a banquet held by the powerful Medici family. Gelato uses fresh, local ingredients, is highly flavorful, and has an exceptionally smooth, silky texture.
What are the Differences Between Gelato and Ice Cream?
Gelato is not simply Italian for ice cream. While both are made with milk, cream, and sugar, gelato contains no egg yolks and has a much higher proportion of milk to cream than ice cream. Less cream means a lower percentage of butterfat. Butterfat can often overpower the flavors. Gelato is also churned at a much slower rate than ice cream. That means there is less air in gelato, which makes it denser and silkier than ice cream. Authentic gelato is generally served at around 10 to 12°F, which is 10 to 15°F warmer than ice cream. The colder the dessert, the more the ice numbs your tongue and dulls your taste buds to the flavor.
Indicators of Good Gelato Shops
Counterintuitively, when gelato has more vibrant colors, it is a sign that the gelato is using less natural ingredients and more artificial flavoring and coloring.
The best shops keep their gelato in round metal tins with lids. Lids indicate that the gelato is kept at the correct temperature and that the shop doesn’t need to lure its customers with bright colors and decorations.
Avoid shops with flashy, loud signs out front. The best shops don’t need tacky advertising. They draw their many customers mostly by word-of-mouth.
Fruit flavors offered should be seasonal. Most flavors come and go with the season: peach and watermelon in the summer, apple and pear in autumn. You shouldn’t see watermelon in the winter or pear in the summer.
Brand name labeling for a flavor indicates the gelato has probably been mass-produced or made with industrial mixes.
Good gelato shops take pride in what goes into their gelato and will post ingredients in a visible spot.
Ingredient lists with “E” followed by a series of numbers indicate additives and preservatives.