|Place of origin||Italy|
|Region or state||Florence, Tuscany|
|Serving temperature||−14 to −11 °C|
7 to 12 °F
|Other information||Usually served with spade instead of ice cream scooper|
Gelato (Italian pronunciation: [dʒeˈlaːto]; lit. 'frozen') is the common word in Italian for all kinds of ice cream. In English, it specifically refers to a frozen dessert of Italian origin. Artisanal gelato in Italy generally contains 6%–9% butterfat, which is lower than other styles of frozen dessert. Gelato typically contains 35% air (substantially less than American-style ice cream) and more flavoring than other kinds of frozen desserts, giving it a density and richness that distinguishes it from other ice creams.
In the Italian language, gelato is the generic word for ice cream and means simply "frozen", independent of the style, so every kind of ice cream is referred to as gelato in Italian. In the English language, however, the word gelato has come to be used to refer to a specific style of ice cream derived from the Italian artisanal tradition.
Main article: History of ice cream
In 1295, Marco Polo returned to Venice from China with a recipe similar to sorbet.
Cosimo Ruggeri, Bernardo Buontalenti, and Catherine de' Medici were 16th-century contemporaries who are variously credited with the invention and spread of gelato.
In Florence, Cosimo Ruggeri is credited with creating the first gelato, fior di latte, at the court of Catherine de' Medici, in a competition, with the theme "il piatto più singolare che si fosse mai visto" (the most unique dish that had ever been seen).
In the 1530s, Catherine de' Medici took gelato to Paris.
Circa 1565, Bernardo Buontalenti, an innovator in ice conservation, made a sorbet with ice, salt, lemon, wine, milk, sugar, egg, and honey, "plus orange and bergamot flavouring". Buontalenti is credited with inventing gelato alla crema, whipped cream or egg cream gelato, the precursor to modern Florentine gelato.
In 1686, Francesco Procopio dei Coltelli, a Sicilian, brought his grandfather Francesco's gelato-making machine to Paris, opened Café Procope and introduced the dessert. Procopio obtained French citizenship, and a royal license from Louis XIV, making him the sole producer of the frozen dessert in the kingdom.
In 1904, in America, Emery Thompson built the first automated ice cream machine.
In 1945, in Bologna, Bruto Carpigiani began selling gelato-making equipment, and created Motogelatiera, the first automated gelato machine. The batch freezer made it easier to store frozen desserts. Carpigiani is a big manufacturer of gelato machinery.
The process consists of heating the ingredients to 85 °C (185 °F) for pasteurization. Then, it is lowered to 5 °C (41 °F) and mixed to the desired texture. The cold process mixes the ingredients and is batched in the freezer. In the "sprint" process, milk or water is added to a package of ingredients which is then mixed and batched.
As with other ice creams, the sugar in gelato prevents it from freezing solid by binding to the water and interfering with the normal formation of ice crystals. This creates smaller ice crystals and results in the smooth texture of gelato. Commercial gelati are often sweetened with inverted sugar, sucrose, dextrose, or xylitol, and may include a stabilizer such as guar gum.
The first, fior di latte ('milk flower'), is a plain, base ice cream with no flavor and no eggs added. Stracciatella is fior di latte gelato with chocolate chunks. Traditional flavors of gelato include cream (also known as custard), vanilla, chocolate, hazelnut, almond, and pistachio. Modern flavors include raspberry, strawberry, apple, lemon, pineapple, and black raspberry.
Giovanni Battista della Porta describes a method by which 'Wine may freeze in glasses' using saltpetre (Natural Magick, English edition, 1658, p. 324