We use the terms "gelato" and "ice cream" interchangebly but they are actually significant differences between the Italian and American frozen treats. There are three key differences between the two are air, serving temperature, and fat content.
1. When ice cream is being made, more air is churned into it as opposed to gelato. This makes for a less dense product. The amount of air that is trapped in the final product, is about 25%-30% in gelato and usually in excess of 50% in ice cream.
2. Ice cream is served frozen, while gelato is served at a warmer temperature. Hence why it instantly begins to melt on contact with your tongue. Allowing the gelato to melt sooner rather than later gives the eater instant flavor.
3. For a product to be labeled “ice cream” in the United States, it has to have a minimum 10% fat content. Higher quality products will average about 16% and higher. The fat content is significantly lower in gelato- anywhere between 3 and 8%. This is important when it comes to taste, as the lower fat content does not coat the taste buds as much, and the flavors have the chance to emerge stronger.
Do your own taste test and see what you like better, gelato or ice cream.
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