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10 Facts and Reasons Gelato Has Us Hooked

10 Facts and Reasons Gelato Has Us Hooked

Behind the façade of Italy’s famed smooth and velvety gelato lies a wealth of biting facts and history that make it all the more scrumptious. We’re not sure about you, but we’ll always have room for gelato trivia. From the roots of its exquisite name to its identity as a guiltless pleasure and its global impact, we have curated a list of ten compelling facts about gelato and its profound influence. Get right into the thick of gelato knowledge with us here!

1. Gelato means ‘frozen’ in Italian

The word
gelato originates from the Italian word congelato, which translates to frozen. Related terminologies include gelateria, which refers to the shop where gelato is made and sold, and gelatai, which refers to the gelato maker and seller.

2. It is an ancient craft dating back to the Renaissance period

The precise origins of gelato remain uncertain, but historical records suggest that this frozen delight has been enjoyed since at least the
14th century. This is marked by the innovation of Bernardo Buontalenti, a renowned Italian stage designer and architect, who was tasked by the Medici family to organise a banquet in honour of the Spanish deputation. Amidst the grandeur of the occasion, a dessert of frozen cream was created – an ancestral precursor of the gelato we consume in the present. Buontalenti’s inaugural flavour choices included bergamot, lemon, orange, and wine, laying the foundation for the myriad delectable options that grace the rows of modern display freezers today.

3. Gelato is different from regular ice cream

Although both gelato and ice cream contain the same staples, the former is made with less cream and no egg yolks. As a result, it is healthier than ice cream due to its lower fat content, which also amplifies its flavours.

Another difference between gelato and ice cream is that gelato contains less whipped air than ice cream. It is comparatively more compact and dense (meaning you truly get the bang for your buck), and much creamier and richer. You can test this by how fast the gelato melts in your mouth and how soon its smack hits your tongue.

4. It is also different from sorbet

Gelato’s close relative, sorbet, is also known as
sorbetto. Originating from Iran, this frost-kissed treat shares remarkable similarities with gelato except for the fact that it uses water as a base in place of milk. While gelato is favoured for its thick and creamy texture, sorbet is primed as a light and refreshing option, often used as a palate cleanser between dishes. 

Sorbet shouldn’t be confused with sherbet, a light and frozen dessert that resembles sorbet but contains a small amount of dairy in the form of milk, cream, or buttermilk.

5. Gelato is served at warmer temperatures compared to ice cream

Gelato is typically stored at temperatures between -10°C and -15°C, whereas ice cream is kept at -18°C or below. The specified temperature range serves to preserve the soft and buttery consistency of gelato by preventing it from getting too hard or icy. Additionally, these elevated temperatures contribute to the immediate effect of the gelato tasting experience, leveraging the heightened sensitivity of your taste buds for more pronounced and pleasurable flavours. 

6. A Sicilian fisherman built the pioneering gelato machine

Francesco Procopio dei Coltelli was the first person to manufacture a gelato machine in 1686, after refining a prototype that was invented by his
grandfather. His entrepreneurial spirit eventually helped him popularise the concept of the chilled confection, allowing him to move from his hometown in Palermo, Sicily to Paris, where he opened a café. 

7. The first gelato shop is still open in Paris, France

And thus began the legacy of the world’s first gelateria. Named Café Procope, Procopio brought the pleasure of savouring gelato to France, which gradually spread to the rest of Europe. Recognised by French King Louis XIV for his exceptional culinary skills, Procopio had sold his creations to royals and esteemed figures at his coffeehouse, including the likes of Voltaire, Bal­zac, and Rousseau. 

Today, the multi-concept establishment still stands at its original location in Paris, where it offers a quaint and heritage-laden dining experience from substantial mains to heavenly desserts. 

8. Gelato is often made with natural ingredients 

Authentic gelato often utilises fresh and natural ingredients instead of flavouring agents – the artificial additives used in commercial ice cream. Employing the essence of pure ingredients such as real fruit, quality chocolate, and vanilla beans keeps gelato selections authentic, unprocessed and delicious. 

9. Gelato craftsmanship is celebrated universally 

The art of gelato is not isolated to Italy or Europe alone. The
International Gelato World Cup (Coppa del Mondo della Gelateria) is a biennial championship that spotlights artisanal gelato craftsmanship in Italy. It brings together the world’s top chefs to compete in various areas, from flavour innovation, presentation, to other technical skills – ensuring a dynamic and spirited event where gelato- and pastry-making become the focus of an international camaraderie. 

On the other hand, the Gelato Festival World Masters stands as another highly renowned gelato tournament. Occurring once every four years in Italy, this event builds anticipation through a series of qualifying competitions held in multiple countries. These preliminary competitions aim to identify the top contenders, ultimately assembling the cream of the crop to compete on the global stage for the grand finale.

10. There are over 39,000 gelaterias in Italy

The global footprint of this beloved Italian delicacy should not be underestimated. Among one of the nation’s most popular traditional desserts, gelato’s esteemed reputation is supported by over
39,000 gelato shops in Italy, and over 100,000 gelato shops all over the world to boot. While Italy undoubtedly remains the trailblazer of their signature frozen treat, the future is promising for the burgeoning gelato scene, with strong potential observed in Europe as well as South East Asia. 

Immerse yourself in the ancient and multidimensional charm of this authentic and luscious ice-cold dessert with Sugartee Gelato’s exclusive range of gelato flavours, from fragrant chrysanthemum oolong, classical vanilla bean cacao nib, zesty passionfruit, to captivating Sicilian pistachio. 

Find out how you can experience the heart of Italy right here in our store or have it delivered straight to your doorstep. 

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