Nope, they’re not the same. Here’s the scoop.
Oh Mother Nature, we see your summer heat and raise you our refreshments! Townsvillians are well and truly out of Spring hibernation and taking respite from the sweltering temperatures the best way we know how – with sweet treats of the frozen kind.
But not all frozen desserts are created equal, so for those of you who scratch their heads at the very idea that ice cream and gelato might not in fact, be the same thing, let us melt it down for you in order to better guide your decision when it comes to getting at least one of the two into your belly.
LET’S START WITH THE HISTORY BOOKS
The history of ice cream goes all the way back to the second century BC, when Alexander the Great would combine ice, snow, honey and nectar for his evening treat.
Similarly, the Bible references King Solomon enjoying iced drinks during the harvest, while it has also been documented that Nero Claudius Caesar would send runners into the mountains to fetch snow for his evening dessert.
But it wasn’t until the 16th century that ice cream as we know it was first churned out into a bowl.
Venetian merchant Marco Polo returned to Italy from a trip to the east with a recipe scratched onto parchment (we assume) that created a dish that closely resembles today’s sherbet. That discovery would pave the way for ice cream as we know it.
The pedigree of these ‘iced’ creams remained a prestigious and rare treat for the very elite until the 1800’s.
And then, there is Gelato, but before we get too imersed in it, we should tell you upfront that ‘gelato’ is literally just the Italian word for ‘ice cream’. Despite this, there are key differences between these two sweets.
Both products start with a rich custard, but there are differences in how these are made.
With ice cream, the ingredients are traditionally milk, cream, sugar and egg yolks. After these are baked together, they are churned at a high speed to bring air into the equation to make it light-textured and creamy.
Gelato usually does away with the eggs and uses less cream, or none at all. It is churned at a lower speed, making it more dense and able to be served at a warmer temperature – making the texture a little bit more velvety.
WHO ARE YOU CALLING FAT?
Because ice cream uses egg yolks and cream, it usually carries a higher fat content. This is usually set at about 10 per cent, although homemade ice cream and premium products will usually soar much higher than this.
Gelato is much lower in fat because of the lower volumes of cream and egg yolks, which often aren’t used at all.
THE OTHER ICY TREATS
Of course, ice cream and gelato aren’t the only options on the market when it comes to frozen treats. Sorbet, like that created by Polo’s discovery all those centuries ago, presents a dairy-free option, gluten free and often vegan alternative. It is usually made with fruit and has more icy shards than ice cream or gelato, although it is usually packed solid. And then there is frozen yoghurt, which is, um, yoghurt that has been frozen.
So while there are key differences, it all comes down to taste and personal dietary requirements. Ice cream may pack more calories than gelato, but it is more readily accessible and comes in a wider variety of flavours and varieties. Options also exist for those who cannot partake in dairy or eggs so there is an icy treat out there for everyone. Hurrah!