Gelato (Italian pronunciation: [dʒeˈlaːto]; lit.'frozen') is the common word in Italian for all kinds of ice cream. In English, it specifically refers to a frozen dessert of Italian origin. Artisanal gelato in Italy generally contains 6%–9% butterfat, which is lower than other styles of frozen dessert. Gelato typically contains 35% air and more flavoring than other kinds of frozen desserts, giving it a density and richness that distinguishes it from other ice creams.
In the Italian language, gelato is the generic word for ice cream, independent of the style, so every kind of ice cream is referred to as gelato in Italian. In the English language, however, the word gelato has come to be used to refer to a specific style of ice cream derived from the Italian artisanal tradition. This is similar to the word chai, the generic word for tea in multiple languages like Hindi, Persian, Russian, Turkish and Swahili, that in English has come to refer to a specific style of tea of Indian origin.
In the 1530s, Catherine de' Medici took gelato to Paris.
Since 1565, Bernardo Buontalenti (1531–1608), an innovator in ice conservation, made a sorbet, with ice, and salt, consisting of lemon, wine, milk, sugar, egg, and honey, "plus orange and bergamot flavouring". and is credited with inventing gelato alla crema, the egg cream gelato, precursor to modern Florentine gelato.
In 1904, in America, Emery Thompson built the first automated ice cream machine.
In 1945, in Bologna, Bruto Carpigiani began selling gelato-making equipment, and created Motogelatiera, the first automated gelato machine. The batch freezer made it easier to store frozen desserts.Carpigiani is a big manufacturer of gelato machinery. Italy is the only country where the market share of artisanal gelato versus mass-produced gelato is more than 55%.
The process consists of heating the ingredients to 85 °C (185 °F) for pasteurization. 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.
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. Commercial gelati are often sweetened with inverted sugar, sucrose, dextrose, or xylitol, and may include a stabilizer such as guar gum.
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