I have been asked many times, "Whats the difference between gelato and ice cream?" Since today is very cold, the high was 0 C, I thought today was an excellent day to talk about the cold treats.
Getato is Italy's version of ice cream. Gelato is made with some of the same ingredients as most other frozen dairy desserts. Milk, cream, sugar, fruit and nuts are the main ingredients.
Gelato is different from some other ice creams because it has a lower butterfat content. Gelato typically contains 4-8% butterfat, versus 14% for many other ice creams. Gelato generally has slightly lower sugar content, averaging between 16-22% versus approximately 21% for most ice creams. Non-fat milk is added as a solid. The sugar content in gelato is precisely balanced with the water content to act as an anti-freeze to prevent the gelato from freezing solid. Types of sugar used include sucrose, dextrose, and invert sugar to control apparent sweetness. Typically, gelato and Italian sorbet contain a stabilizing base. Egg yolks are used in yellow custard-based gelato flavors, including zabaione and creme caramel.
The mixture for gelato is typically made using a hot process, which includes pasteurization. White base is heated to 85°C (185°F). Heating the mix to 90°C (194°F) is essential for chocolate gelato, which is traditionally flavored with cocoa powder. Yellow custard base, which contains egg yolks, is heated to 65°C (149°F). The gelato mix must age for several hours after pasteurization is complete for the milk proteins to hydrate, or bind, with water in the mix. This hydration reduces the size of the ice crystals, making a smoother texture in the final product. A non-traditional cold mix process is popular among some gelato makers in the United States.
Unlike most commercial ice creams in the United States, which are frozen with a continuous assembly line freezer, gelato is frozen very quickly in individual small batches in a batch freezer. The batch freezer incorporates air or overage into the mix as it freezes. Unlike most American-style ice creams, which can have an overage of up to 50%, gelato generally has between 20% and 35% overage. This results in a denser product with more intense flavor than many U.S. style ice creams. U.S. style ice cream, with a higher fat content, can be stored in a freezer for months. High-quality artisan gelato holds its peak flavor and texture (from delicate ice crystals) only for several days, even when stored carefully at the proper temperature. This is why gelaterias typically make their own gelato on the premises or nearby.
Source - Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gelato