Gelato vs Ice Cream

The battle over creamy treats continues
Bella Fresco

I need to write about/think about something to do with summer, because this winter weather slash the thirty degree temperatures are definitely killing it for me, and not in a cool way. I think I have that SAD thing they talk about on the commercials. So, let's talk about the eternal battle of ice cream vs. gelato. What is the difference and which is more delicious? I didn't become an investigatory journalist for nothing.

Gelato: Gelato, the Italian word for ice cream, is a creamy treat made in much the same way as ice cream. A combination of milk, cream, sugar, and flavorings are the recipe basis for this dessert, which is made in much smaller batches and without much air being stirred into it. In Italy, there must be at least 3.5% butterfat for the concoction to be considered gelato (most gelaterias say it has to be between 3-5%), although there are no specific USDA rules about butterfat or milkfat content here in the US. Another note: when gelato is served, it is not totally frozen, lending to its creamier texture. Because of the not-frozen component, gelato also coats the mouth differently than ice cream, leading to a different texture experience. 

Ice Cream: Like its Italian cousin, ice cream is a concoction made from milk (or some kind of dairy), sugar, and flavorings. While making ice cream, the mixture is stirred slowly while it cools, becoming icy throughout (without forming big ice crystals), so it is, literally, frozen or iced cream.  The stirring process also adds a large amount of air to the mixture, making it less dense than gelato. There also must be greater than 10% milkfat (according to the USDA which does have strict rules about ice cream); much greater than the 3.5% butterfat present in gelato. 

To me, there are certain flavors better as ice cream, others which are better as gelato. Rocky Road should always be ice cream; but pistachio, to me, should always be gelato. There are tons of places to get either here in Charlotte, so pick your favorite. Try Elizabeth Creamery (should be reopening soon!), Bella Fresco (AMAZING gelato all made in house), or Pike's Old Fashioned Soda Shop (mmm root beer floats) for your own take.  

Categories: Dine & Dish, Food + Drink