Gelato versus Ice Cream

A local gelaterie offering various flavors. Here we got rose and pineapple flavors.

It is summertime, and ice cream or gelato are perfect snacks or dessert picks for many folks, adults and children alike! I love trying different flavors of ice cream, especially locally made and small batch productions.  Their flavors are always changing, and seasonal variations are fun and delicious way to spend an evening date night or even while just hanging out with friends.  Moreover, with the level of inflation, ice cream can make for a fun activity without spending on an entire meal at a restaurant.

There are two main ice cream contenders that always steal my heart (and taste buds), ice cream and gelato.  However, many of my family and friends are confused with the difference between the two.  One of my favorite places to grab ice cream actually serves “gelato” which is a popular frozen dessert based out of Italy.  The name itself comes from an Italian verb “gelare” which means “to freeze”.

I am currently in Calgary and there are many delicious ice cream joints in town. But, having visited Italy and tried a different gelato flavor every day, I am a self-pronounced gelato connoisseur.  I personally love the varied flavors and healthier “less heavy” feel of gelato more than ice cream.  However, for something heartier and more satisfying, I would sometimes go for a cheesecake ice cream, or anything with “cheese” in the ice cream.  The cheese gives some ice cream flavors a salty dimension which is unique and addicting.

What’s the difference between gelato and ice cream?

A spinoff from the traditional ice cream – an ice cream float

The origins of ice cream can be found in all areas of Europe and popularized in England and France.  Ice cream is generally made with a higher proportion of cream to milk and contains egg yolks, which add to its richness, whereas gelato uses more milk than cream and has little to no egg yolks, meaning there is less fat content than in ice cream.

Fat content in ice cream range between 10-25% which gives it a creamier and richer texture, while gelato is only 4-9% fat and this makes it more dense and intensely flavored.  Some may also argue the latter is a healthier alternative to the traditional ice cream.

There is also a difference in the way that ice cream is churned compared to gelato.  Whereas ice cream is churned at a faster speed (with more incorporation of air bubbles) giving a fluffier texture than gelato, gelato is churned at a slower speed and is more densely packed with a smooth taste.

Rum raisin ice cream is a classic delicious flavor that can never go wrong.

The temperature at which both are served is also different.  Ice cream is served at colder temperatures of around -20 degrees Celsius, giving a firmer texture.  Gelato is served at -15 degrees Celsius, which enhances the creamy texture and makes the flavors even more pronounced.