Gelato, the representative of high-end ice cream, has a fresh and solid unique taste. It frequently appears in the dessert lists of fine restaurants and is sought after by countless gourmets. What makes it so special? How to make super delicious gelato?
Italian Ice Cream Gelato
/ The beginning of modern ice cream /
Gelato, a wonderful combination of fresh cow’s milk, ice crystals, sugar and air, sublimates the already extraordinary taste of cream into a more flavorful and enchanting treat. Man’s attempts to mix ice and snow with food began in B.C. Whether it was the rose-flavored smoothies once popular among Persian royalty, or the slush drinks favored by the Arabs, or the ice cheeses and crispy mountains of our ancient legends, all seem to be ice cream in its infancy.
The birth of Gelato is generally considered to be the starting point of modern ice cream. The word “Gelato” is derived from the Latin word ” gelātus”, originally meaning “frozen Gelateria” means “ice cream store”.
Sorbet, on the other hand, is probably derived from the Arabian slush, which is very different from the real ice cream in terms of taste and preparation, but it is certain that this dessert is inextricably linked to Gelato, which appeared in Italy in the mid-17th century.
Descriptions of gelato made from fruit already appeared in Italy in the early 17th century, and the first documented recipe for frozen cow’s milk and ice appeared in Naples in the 1780s and 1790s, which is also considered to be the birthplace of modern gelato.
It was Louis XIV, the Sun King of France, who introduced ice cream to the European court, and the banquet records of that time describe in detail the deliciousness of Italian ice cream. The Italian Francesca Boccopio, in turn, brought the delicacy from Sicily to the Parisian folk.
In 1686, he opened a café called Procopio, which sold a mixture of whipped cream, fruit, sugar and ice that became the first ice cream in Paris. Diderot, Rousseau and Beaumarchais, the great thinkers of the Enlightenment, were all regulars at this café, and the centuries-old café continues to write its legend today ……
Café Procope since 1686|wikimedia
How was Italian ice cream made in the early days?
/excellent use of salt for freezing/
How was gelato made in hot weather before freezing equipment was invented?
If fresh cow’s milk was frozen directly, it would become as hard as stone, and although adding a lot of sugar would make it soft, it would lower the freezing point of the sweet cream so that it would not solidify sufficiently. The wonderful effects of snow and saltpeter were discovered long ago, and the Arab world in the thirteenth century had already mastered the role of salt in freezing, a skill that eventually spread to Italy.
People mixed fresh buttermilk, juice, and sugar and poured them into metal barrels, which were then placed in wooden barrels and filled with crushed ice and salt in between the spaces. Ice and salt mixture is an effective chilling agent, ice because of the absorption of environmental heat melted into water, salt dissolved in water so that the ice surface water to form a concentrated salt solution. The freezing point of the concentrated salt solution is much lower than pure water, and at this time the salt solution and ice coexist, so the temperature of the whole system must fall to maintain this state, followed by heat absorption, so that the cream mixture in the metal barrel to get enough low temperature.
During the production process, people had to keep turning and shaking the metal barrel in order to get ice cream with small ice crystals and delicate taste. At that time, the production of ice cream relied on manual labor, which was time-consuming and labor-intensive, and the output was very small. In addition, the raw sugar of ice cream was extremely expensive, so in Europe at that time, ice cream was a luxury delicacy that only royalty and celebrities could enjoy.
It was not until the early nineteenth century that the French gradually mastered the method of extracting sugar from beet. Soon, the invention of the ice cream machine with a curved handle to drive the mixing also further reduced the cost of ice cream. All of this made the popularization of ice cream a possibility. Vienna, the center of art and technology in Europe at the time, was the first place to bring gelato to the general public.
The popularity of ice cream did not happen overnight either. In nineteenth-century Europe, it was vulgar and uncouth to lick ice cream with one’s tongue in public, and the ice cream sold on the street was usually served in small crystal cups, which were elegantly scooped with a spoon, a habit that is still practiced in some areas today. The popularity of ice cream was somewhat affected by the fact that the crystal cups on ice cream trucks were recycled, which could spread diseases.
As society opened up, a new type of serving utensil gradually replaced the crystal cups in order to allow people to enjoy delicious ice cream anytime and anywhere: the egg cone, rolled up in a waffle crust. The use of the cone brought a more casual and joyful atmosphere to ice cream tasting, and this usage continues to this day.
The innovation of the industrial age has led to the development of ice cream, a significant drop in the price of raw materials, and industrial refrigeration technology to promote the production and transportation of ice cream, which has gradually become popular all over the world, with a variety of styles and flavors.
What should a good ice cream look like?
/The game of cream, syrup, ice crystals and air/
There are many kinds of ice creams, but the most basic ingredients are sugar and buttermilk. The taste composition of ice cream also consists of three elements.
❶ Syrup and cream that precipitate when the mixture solidifies
❷Fine ice crystals formed by water
❸ The countless small air bubbles that are filled when mixing
Ice cream production begins by mixing the ingredients together, heating and sterilizing them, and then emulsifying them, which means breaking up the large particles of cream by rapid stirring. The diameter of the fat particles is reduced and, accordingly, the contact surface between fat and water is increased. The proteins from the milk are then filled in between the fat and the water, so that the fat and protein are in a more homogeneous state, which facilitates the production of a fine texture.
Even at low temperatures, a small part of the ice cream mixture remains unconsolidated, and the thick cream with dissolved sugar wraps millions of small ice crystals and makes them stick together; the numerous small ice crystals formed by water form the skeleton and shape of the ice cream, which can play a role in stabilizing the ice cream system and making the ice cream structure dense.
Increasing the content of solid ingredients, whether it is fat, protein or syrup, is conducive to reducing the size of ice crystals, because the more solid ingredients, the smaller the proportion of water, which is naturally not conducive to the formation of large ice crystals. The size of the ice crystals determines the texture of the ice cream. The numerous small bubbles filled between the ice crystals and the cream make the ice cream fluffy and easy to lick, and make the ice cream expand in volume.
The key to good ice cream is to make the structure of cream syrup, ice crystals and air reach a certain balance when frozen, dense and slightly chewy, lubricated and not sticky, the smaller the ice crystals the more delicate the texture, the more grease and sugar the more lubricious the taste, but too much grease and sugar will make the ice cream moist and sticky.
The unique charm of Italian ice cream
/Low fat content and low air content
Gelato is made with fresh cow’s milk instead of whipped cream, and the milk fat content is generally 6%, which is lower than the common American ice cream, which usually has a milk fat content of 15% or more.
To ensure a smooth texture, egg yolks are added to gelato, so the texture of gelato is more refreshing rather than thick and sticky, and the calories are lower.
When making gelato, the mixture is stirred slowly and filled with less air than American ice cream, so the texture of gelato is denser and harder, and the freezing temperature is higher than American ice cream. The emulsified egg yolk helps the formation of small ice crystals, which makes the gelato taste more delicate. The same volume of gelato is heavier than American ice cream.
The quality of an ice cream can usually be measured by its air expansion rate. The less air filled, the harder the texture, the more solid the taste, and the higher the cream and yolk content; the more air filled, the lower the relative density, so you can weigh the ice cream with your hands when buying.