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Gelato (Italian pronunciation: [dʒeˈlaːto]) is ice cream made in the Italian style. Gelato is simply the Italian word for ice cream, but in English, it has come to mean specifically Italian or Italian-style ice cream.[1]

Type Ice cream
Place of origin Italy
Region or state Sicily
Serving temperature Cold
Main ingredients Milk, sugar, flavoring ingredient (e.g. – fruit or nut puree)
Cookbook: Gelato  Media: Gelato

Gelato is made with a base of milk and sugar. It is generally lower in fat than other styles of ice cream.[2] Gelato typically contains less air and more flavoring than other kinds of frozen desserts, giving it a density and richness that distinguishes it from other ice creams.[3][4]

The Italian law requires gelato to have a minimum of 3.5% butterfat.[5] In the United States, there is no legal standard definition for gelato as there is for ice cream, which must contain at least 10% butterfat.[6]

Gelato can be served in any way that ice cream is, including cup, cone, sandwich, cake, pie, or on a stick.



Some believe the history of gelato is rife with myths and very little evidence to substantiate them. Some say it dates back to frozen desserts in Sicily, ancient Rome, and ancient Egypt made from snow and ice brought down from mountaintops and preserved below ground.[citation needed]

However, gelato was simply invented by Buontalenti, in Florence (Tuscany), during the Renaissance period. As eccentric as he was, Buontalenti created this dessert for the Grand Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici who wanted him to organize an opulent banquet to celebrate the Spanish deputation. It was the 5th of October 1600, and Buontalenti had worked for four months to prepare such a banquet. In Florence, most shops selling hand-made ice-cream also usually offer a "Buontalenti" flavour. In 1686, the Sicilian fisherman Francesco Procopio dei Coltelli perfected the first ice cream machine.[7] However, the popularity of gelato among larger shares of the population only increased in the 1920s–1930s in the northern Italian city of Varese, where the first gelato cart was developed. Italy is the only country where the market share of artisanal gelato versus mass-produced gelato is over 55%.[8][9] Today, more than 5,000 modern Italian ice cream parlors employ over 15,000 people.[10]


The traditional flavors of gelato consist of vanilla, chocolate, hazelnut, pistachio, cream (also known as custard), and Stracciatella (fior-di-latte gelato with chocolate chunks). [11]

The more modern flavors consist of fruity flavors such as raspberry, mango, and pineapple. [11]


Gelato in Florence, Italy

There are various processes to produce gelato. As the technology advances, the process becomes more simple.

The Old Fashion Process combines eggs, milk, sugar, and flavoring which is then heated and chilled. Then, it is batched, which incorporates air into the gelato to give it its distinct texture.

The Hot Process consists of heating the ingredients to 85°C (185 °F) completing a pasteurization program. 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.[12]

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.[13] American commercial gelati are typically sweetened with sucrose, dextrose, or inverted sugar, and include a stabilizer such as guar gum.

See alsoEdit

  • Custard, a dessert made with cream, eggs and vanilla
  • Frozen custard, a frozen dessert made with cream and eggs
  • Frozen yogurt, a frozen dessert made with a base of yogurt rather than milk
  • Granita, a semi-frozen dessert made from sugar, water and various flavorings.
  • Italian ice, also known as water ice, a frozen dessert made from either concentrated syrup flavoring or fruit purees.
  • Semifreddo, a class of semi-frozen dessert
  • Sorbet, called sorbetto in Italian
  • Stracciatella


  1. ^ Oxford English Dictionary, 3rd ed., 2005, [1]
  2. ^ "Nutritious facts on gelato compared to ice cream". San Francisco Gate. Retrieved August 20, 2014. 
  3. ^ Ferrari, p. 21
  4. ^ Poggioli, Sylvia (17 June 2013). "Italian University Spreads The 'Gelato Gospel'". NPR. Retrieved 7 July 2016. 
  5. ^ "How Gelato is Made Served and Displayed". Orion. 2017-04-14. Retrieved 2018-05-03. 
  6. ^ "CFR - Code of Federal Regulations Title 21". Retrieved 2012-09-10. 
  7. ^ Storia del gelato. Retrieved on 2012-07-06.
  8. ^ See
  9. ^ See
  10. ^ See, outside of Italy the bigger number of gelaterie is located in UK, France, Germany and north Europe in general.
  11. ^ a b "Traditional Flavors | WhyGelato". Retrieved 2018-04-16. 
  12. ^ "How It's Made | WhyGelato". Retrieved 2018-04-24. 
  13. ^ Omran, A. Monem (July 1974). "Kinetics of ice crystallization in sugar solutions and fruit juices". AIChE Journal. 20 (4): 795–803. doi:10.1002/aic.690200422. 


  • Ferrari, Luciano (2005). Gelato and Gourmet Frozen Desserts - A professional learning guide. ISBN 978-1-4092-8850-3. 

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