How Authentic Gelato Is Different From The American Version

Ice cream is one of those things that just makes everything better. A rich and chocolatey brownie is taken to the level when topped with a creamy scoop of ice cream. A walk through the historic city of Rome during the summer is made that much more beautiful with two scoops of gelato in hand. Although many consider the terms gelato and ice cream to be interchangeable, they are anything but (via Italian Feelings). 

Despite having some similarities, both versions have some key differences that set them apart from another. Italy Magazine reports that gelato was said to have been created well over 12,000 years ago in Mesopotamia, but that it wasn't until the Italian Renaissance when alchemist Cosimo Ruggieri created the first gelato flavor fior di latte for the Medici family in Florence. The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) states that ice cream can allegedly be dated back to the second century BC, although there are no substantiated claims. The IDFA explains, that despite this, there were recorded instances of there being an ice cream-like dessert on the table of Charles I of England in the 17th century. The first report of ice cream in the New World wasn't until 1744 in a letter from a guest of Maryland's then-Governor William Bladen.

The two are full of delicious differences

According to the Food Network, there are stark differences between the two in terms of creaminess, ingredients used, the temperature they are stored at, and the fat/air ratios for both. Gelato, which is the Italian word for ice cream, is considered to be more dense than its American counterpart, Kitchn explains. The reason for this is that it has a higher whole milk proportion and lower cream and egg (sometimes no egg at all) proportion to ice cream. Ice cream, on the other hand, is considered fluffier due to its higher fat content that stems from the milk, cream, sugar, and eggs. Italian Feelings reports that American ice cream, by law, must contain at least ten percent fat, while Italian gelato contains an average of 3.8 percent. 

The churning process is also different. The Spruce Eats explains that both are churned at different speeds, something that affects the end consistency. Gelato is churned at a slower pace, adding to its density, and is said to contain about 25 to 30 percent air. Ice cream is churned at a faster pace and is said to contain about 50 percent air (via The Spruce Eats and Kitchn). The Food Network also reports that both are kept at two distinct temperatures as well. Gelato is said to be kept at about ten to 15 degrees Fahrenheit, while ice cream is said to be kept at seven to 12 degrees Fahrenheit.