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Bringing the Spirit of Italy Back to American Gelato

In Italy, gelato is about so much more than just taste. Italian gelaterias are often esteemed local businesses; in fact, more than 55% of the market share of gelato in Italy is handmade. American business owners may wonder how such an old industry can still have such a strong hold on the market. Grab your gelato spoons to get a bite of the unique ways gelato is made, presented, and eaten in Italy.
Formation
The temperature and texture of gelato sets it apart from other frozen treats. Gelato is served at a slightly warmer temperature than ice cream, allowing it to contain less air and fat without melting and separating. This is what keeps gelato seemingly colder and more refreshing longer than ice cream, especially on hot days. American ice cream is also often harder at its serving temperature which requires spoons and scoops that are able to cut through despite resistance. In this sense, the closer American cousin to gelato is frozen yogurt. Frozen yogurt spoons are more appropriate for an American gelateria because they are designed for smoother consistency desserts and usually have soft, rounded edges that allow texture and flavor to take the stage.
Presentation
Long bars gleam with pan after pan of gelato, often in surprisingly warm and natural colors because true Italian gelato does not use artificial food coloring. Instead of coloring the gelato itself, Italian gelato makers pile fresh examples of each flavor’s primary ingredient atop the half of the pan of gelato toward the customer’s side of the case. The fruits used are often purchased fresh at the crack of dawn at local farmers markets. Customers point eagerly to flavors they’d like to try, which are provided on tiny flat taster spoons to give the perfect hint at the joys a full order of gelato will bring them.
Gourmandization
Even the way gelato is served has been only partially imported to America. When visiting an authentic Italian gelateria you will often find brightly colored menus showcasing spreads of elaborate “coppe”. Coppe are best explained as the distant and elaborate Italian relative of the ice cream sundae. Decked out with a variety of flavors, biscuits, toppings, and other decorations, coppe are eaten with long-necked gelato spoons that allow the user to sample flavors all the way at the bottom of the cup without having to eat the rest first.
Gelato has a rich culture beyond simply being a tasty high-quality dessert. American gelato vendors with a true appreciation for gelato should look to their fellow dessert-makers across the sea for more than just recipes.
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Gelato Products is a frozen desserts supplies retailer based out of Los Angeles, California. Check out their wide range of products, such as taster spoons and gelato bowls, at gelatoproducts.com.

The History of Gelato

Written by: Gelato Products

The sweet and icy glory of gelato dates back to the early beginnings of history when the first cold desserts were recorded in Asia. More than 4,500 years ago, Italians were already enjoying their signature dessert during traditional Roman ceremonies in which the icy caps of the Vesuvius and Mount Etna would be ritualistically eaten, covered in sweet honey or fruit.

The First Gelato
The perfected gelato recipe that we know today is a product of its time: the Italian Renaissance period. According to history, the powerful Medicis of Florence discovered a farmer named Cosimo Ruggieri during a city-wide cooking competition sponsored by the family. Ruggieri entered the competition with a dessert selection that combined ice and fruit juices. It was so well-balanced that it won the competition, vaulting Ruggieri into celebrity super-stardom.

The Creamy Gelato
Although Ruggieri is historically connected with the basic gelato ingredients, it was not until Bernardo Buontalenti, an artist also known to the Medicis, that the final recipe was concocted. The base recipe was missing one important component that we take for granted today. Using Ruggieri’s base dessert model, Buontalenti added cream, creating the gelato that we consume today. Gelato is definitely a memento from the Renaissance.

Gelato Makes the News
Gelato did not become famous on its own. In fact, the propelling force behind gelato becoming a worldwide noun is attributed to the restaurateur Procopio Cutò. A Sicilian chef and restaurant business man, Cutò was the first to serve gelato in fancy egg cup containers with fashionable gelato spoons. This is what made gelato the rage in 18th century Europe.

Gelato in the USA
Gelato did not come to the US until chef Giovanni Basiolo brought the recipe to New York City in the in the 1770s. Gelato suppliers began to grow in the city, providing more recipes and tools to atone to the growing popularity of the product.

Gelato 2.0
Fast forward to the 21st century, and gelato still ranks among one of the most popular desserts in the planet, with hundreds of flavor varieties and thousands of locations worldwide where people can find and enjoy this historically-famous treat. You see them displayed in high-end ice cream stores, with gelato pan liners showing off bright colors and textures so the dessert can be fully appreciated. It is never too cold to appreciate a good dessert, and the fine texture of gelato is decadent to say the least.