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How Many Calories in Gelato?

A few years ago, there was this fantastic product receiving a lot of hype in my area: Gelato. Apparently, I was just like ice cream, except fat free. I believed the hype and treated myself to many a serving of this creamy delight. Gelato is touted as low in fat because it's made with milk instead of cream, though what I, and many others probably neglected to consider is that milk has fat too and anything sweet and creamy has got to be high in calories.

Anyway, here's the question. How much fat and calories does a 1-cup serving of Vanilla gelato have?

A) 420 cal, 24 g of fat
B) 320 cal, 12 g of fat
C) 550 cal, 20 g of fat
D) 210 cal, 10 g of fat

The answer is A) 420 cal, 24 g of fat. So much for being low in fat! What's more, there's 16 g of saturated fat in there! Keep in mind that the calorie count is even higher if you opt for other flavors like hazelnut chocolate or Dulce de Leche. This is a little better than a cup of vanilla ice cream, which weighs in at 532 cal and 34 g of fat, but not by much. So be sure to consume gelato in moderation, folks! Instead of getting the large, how about opting for the small, or even child size serving?

Gelato is a wonderfully cool treat that is perfect for special occasions, hot summer days and anytime you need to indulge in a sweet dessert. Gelato is a more health conscious choice than traditional American ice creams, yet it is still a decadent indulgence. While ice cream is a traditional American family favorite, gelato ice cream is gaining popularity in North America and has been a staple in European freezers for centuries. No one knows exactly when gelato was first made, but historians have traced it as far back as the 16th century.

History of Gelato

Gelato emerged in the 16th century and was first seen in Florentine, Italy. This delicate frozen treat was a lucrative industry for Italians skilled in making the delightful dessert. Consumers had to pay paying an exorbitant price to indulge in this sweet treat, however. For this reason, gelato was not available to the common citizens and was reserved for Italian royalty. Fortunately, the gelato ice cream making process was a not a closely guarded secret and common citizens began making their own gelato, adding variations to the traditional royal recipe.

The history of gelato is clear about the origin of the name given to the sweet frozen treat. The Italian term gelare means to freeze and is believed to be the derivative of the name gelato. Contrary to popular belief, gelato usually does not contain gelatin and was not named after the substance.

How to Make Gelato a family Tradition

Many families make gelato ice cream together. The experience of working and eating together provides a great opportunity for family bonding and quality interaction. By choosing to make gelato instead of ice cream, you are providing your family with a healthy treat that can be customized with your family’s favorite toppings and fruit flavors.


Making Gelato

Gelato ice cream can be made with whole milk, water or soymilk as the main ingredient. Fresh fruits, nuts and sugar are added to the mixture and stirred continually while cooled. The continual stirring process breaks up ice crystals as they form and binds the ingredients together, resulting in a rich, creamy texture and intense flavor.

Making gelato can be a time consuming process but it yields great rewards. Some people choose to make their gelato with a commercial ice cream mixer in order to decrease the amount of stirring needed to freeze the product. Gelato is generally served in smaller portion sizes then ice cream due to the intense flavor and density of the product. Gelato must be eaten immediately after serving as it melts much quicker than ice cream.


Homemade Gelato

Homemade gelato ice cream can be made with an electric ice cream machine or a hand churned ice cream maker. While the recipe used for making gelato in an ice cream maker contains nontraditional ingredients such as powdered milk, eggs and cream, the resulting product is still delicious.

You will need to mix 2 cups of whole milk, one cup of sugar or equivalent artificial sweetener (such as Splenda), and ¼ cup powdered fat free powdered milk in a sauce pan over low heat, stirring constantly until all ingredients are dissolved. Next, whip eight egg yolks for about two minutes until they are thick. Add one cup of the warm milk mixture slowly into the egg yolks and stir. Return the yolk mixture to the saucepan with the remaining milk mixture and heat over medium heat while stirring constantly with a non-metal spoon. Continue to heat the mixture until it reaches a temperature of 180° F. Add in one cup of light cream or half-and-half plus one teaspoon of vanilla.

Cover the mixture tightly and refrigerate for 6-48 hours.

The mixture can be used as is for a vanilla gelato or you can add chocolate syrup, fruit and nut pieces or fruit puree for flavoring. Nearly any fruit can be added to gelato.

Simply add the mixture to the ice cream maker and follow the mixing directions for your machine. Your gelato will be ready to eat in about a half an hour!

Gelato is best stored in metal containers at a temperature just below freezing (30° F). If gelato is stored at a cooler temperature, it will need to be thawed slightly and whipped by hand before serving to achieve the proper texture.

Italian Gelato

Traditional Italian gelato is made with pride and often uses a recipe that has been passed down for generations from father to son. The recipe changes slightly over the years, but the family tradition remains unchanged.

Italian gelato is often made with fresh fruit, chocolate or nuts and served with cookies, waffles or other types of small baked goods. Gelato is stored in a forced air freezer at a temperature between 0° F and 6° F. Because of the warmer freezer temperature, the best gelatos are made fresh daily and served immediately.

Traditional Italian gelato uses only fresh ingredients. Many gelato vendors use powdered milk, fruit concentrates and sugar substitutes to decrease the cost of gelato production. Some manufacturers also add product stabilizers such as eggs and other preservatives to improve the longevity of the fast melting gelato.

Sorbet is a type of gelato made with water and lacks any dairy products. Italian sorbets are made with fresh fruit, sugar, water and lemon juice. The tart flavors of sorbet were used to cleanse the palettes of diners in between heavier courses of a meal in centuries past. Today, it is a popular choice for vegetarians and those looking for a special treat while counting calories.

Several Italian desserts include a well-made gelato in the recipe. Spumoni, Tartufo, Italian ice cream cakes and candies all use gelato as a main ingredient.

Popular Gelato Flavors

While popular gelato ice cream flavors may vary from region to region, the most popular gelato flavor worldwide is vanilla. Chocolate, strawberry and pistachio are also popular choices and some vendors sell delicious confections such as peanut butter delight, heavenly hazelnut, lemon-orange sunrise, peach passion, caffeinated creamy coffee, coconut cream, blissful banana and mouth watering mint flavored gelato.

Gelato versus Traditional Ice Cream

Gelato ice cream is considerably healthier than traditional ice cream. Where a sample traditional ice cream may contain up to 30% fat, gelato has between one to eight percent fat content. Gelato is made with whole cow’s milk, where ice cream is made with cream as its base ingredient. A serving of gelato contains far less calories than the same sized portion of ice cream.

Since gelato is not homogenized the way ice cream is, the ingredients separate more easily and gelato tends to melt more quickly than ice cream. Gelato is richer and denser than ice cream because the gelato making process whips less air into the mixture than traditional ice cream. High-end ice creams contain less air and have a similar texture to gelato, but also have more cream added than regular ice cream, and therefore have a higher fat content as well.

Gelato ice cream is a healthy, welcome addition to any family dessert menu. Making gelato ice cream as a family can provide pleasant memories for your loved ones and can become a family tradition that is passed down for generations to come.

Differences Between Gelato & Ice Cream

One of the primary differences between gelato and ice cream is the butterfat content. Gelato is made from whole milk or low fat milk. Ice cream is made from cream, giving it a higher butterfat content than gelato. The Café Gelato website states that this lower fat content leads to it melting faster when eaten, which allows the flavors to be more pronounced.

Air is incorporated into ice cream during the manufacturing process. This creates a greater volume of product. Introducing air also makes ice cream easier to scoop. The opposite is done when making gelato. Care is taken during the churning process to avoid incorporating air. This is done by churning the gelato at a slower rate. The end result is a creamier, denser product despite its lower fat content.

Both gelato and ice cream are served at below freezing temperatures. However, gelato is served at a slightly higher temperature than ice cream. Traditionally gelato is served at a temperature 10 to 15 degrees warmer than ice cream, according to Café Gelato. The consistency of gelato is closer to a soft serve ice cream than a scooped variety of ice cream. This allows gelato to melt quicker in the mouth, again enhancing flavor.

Gelatos are made with fresh fruits, nuts, chocolates and flavoring. Syrups and artificial flavoring are not usually used. Syrups and artificial flavoring are often used in commercial ice creams. Gelato makers tend to adhere to long-standing traditional ingredients. Gelatos are also known for more adventure some flavors such as cucumber and rose.

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