Gelato. The more glamorous and mythical cousin of American ice cream. We’ve already explored the differences between gelato and ice cream, but what about gelato itself? Let’s take a look at how gelato is made, served, and displayed.
Gelato is an Italian word meaning “frozen.” To begin, we should recap the ingredients that go into a gelato, with a base of milk, cream, and sugar that are flavored with fruit and nut purées that traditionally have NO artificial colorings or flavorings.
Gelato typically contains less air, giving it a density and richness that distinguishes it from other types of frozen dessert like ice cream. It is also held in a display case that allows for the gelato to be kept at warmer, more ideal temperatures than ice cream. This allows the flavor of gelato to come through immediately versus a product displayed at colder temperatures, which need to melt in the mouth before the flavor comes through.
In Italy, by law, gelato must have at least 3.5 percent butterfat. In the United States, there is no legal standard of definition for gelato as there is for ice cream, which must contain at least 10 percent butterfat.
The good news is that better results and longer shelf lives go hand in hand. This is accomplished when gelato is made with a hot process to first dissolve the sugars. The white base is heated to 185º F in order to undergo pasteurization. This is pretty standard, though the hot process to make chocolate gelato can vary as it is flavored with couverture and cocoa powder.
Like most frozen desserts, the sugar it contains also prevents it from freezing into a solid state. American commercial gelati are typically sweetened with sucrose, dextrose, or inverted sugar and will include a stabilizer or guar gum.
In reality, gelato production has moved beyond some of the old fashioned methods of days past, in Italy and the United States alike. Today they require technological advances that do not comprise the flavor or consistency of the end product, and the hot process is the most common method.
In addition, a gelato base can be ordered from a local dairy to then be frozen in a batch freezer.
Regardless of how you make it, how you display gelato will directly impact sales.
According to the market research firm Mintel, gelato sales rose from $11 million in 2009 to an estimated $214 million in 2014. It represents a shift in American preferences to small, artisanal, batch-made products that continues to grow.
In order to increase foot traffic into a gelato shop and take advantage of these trends, operators must maximize the potential of their gelato display cases. Learn more about how to increase impulse purchases in your gelato shop by reading our free Guide to Increasing Sales with a Refrigerated Display Case.