It used to be easy for me to say no to ice cream. The hours of aches and pains my lactose-intolerant tummy endured were hardly worth the lackluster flavor every carton of ice cream had to offer. This all changed two years ago while I was living abroad in Italy. Quaint gelaterias lurked on every street corner in Rome, making it impossible not to give it a shot. Eventually, I caved, only to discover the true bliss of this delicious summer treat.
So, what’s the difference between gelato and ice cream? Gelato has a greater proportion of whole milk to cream—this means less fat. But less fat does not mean less flavor. Gelato is comprised of less than 10% butterfat, while ice cream may have up to 25%. And unlike ice cream, where air is added to a cream, milk and sugar mixture, gelato has very little air churned into it—allowing it to endure higher temperatures than ice cream, as well as making it more dense and thick. Essentially, gelato tastes richer because its lower serving temperature is easier on our taste buds and the thick mixture is full of flavor rather than air.
Does gelato have eggs in it? Not always. Like so many other foods in Italy, gelato is extremely regional. Gelato from the Northern region of Italy is often made from an egg-based custard with milk or a combination of milk and cream. Sicilian style gelato from the Southern regions use cornstarch to thicken the gelato base as to not distract from traditional regional nutty and fruity flavors such as: lemon, orange and pistachio.
So, I may not be enjoying my gelato on the Spanish Steps in Rome anymore, but every now and then I still have a craving for this decadent treat. Now living in the Twin Cities, it’s harder to locate gelato (making it easier on my tummy) but I have discovered a few places worth a try:
- Jackson’s Coffee & Gelato– Uptown Minneapolis
- Pandolfi– 50th & France, Edina
- Fat Lorenzo’s- South Minneapolis
- Ring Mountain– Eagan
Treat yourself to some gelato this summer. I promise, it’s even worth the tummy-ache.