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The Difference between Gelato and Ice Cream

While they might be the close cousins of the dessert world, gelato and ice cream each have a few differences that really distinguish themselves from each other. In fact, we at Lighthouse Ice Cream Kompany have discovered that many of our customers generally prefer one over the other.

But even with these preferences in mind, not too many people really know what sets these two mouthwatering treats apart when it comes to how they’re made. Today, we give you the scoop on what really makes the difference between these two all-time favorites: gelato and ice cream.

The Gist on Gelato

Over the years, we’ve heard stories of customers flying all the way to Italy with a sizable to-do list, and unsurprisingly, one of the things on that list is trying out authentic Italian gelato. Little do they know, however, that the process here at home is identical to where it originated. This is probably why sales for gelato in the United States have spiked in recent years, going from $11 million in 2009 to a whopping $214 million in 2014, according to Mintel research.

As for why gelato is beginning to gain in popularity in America - first and foremost is its place as a healthier alternative to ice cream. During production, gelato focuses more on the use of milk rather than cream to build its tantalizing structure. It also often doesn’t contain egg yolks, or if egg yolks do make it into the mixture, they are used a lot more sparingly than in ice cream, effectively making gelato a superior choice for anyone trying to watch their fat and cholesterol intake.

Sugar also tends to be used in smaller amounts than ice cream when gelato is made, though because gelato is slow-churned, which results in a denser product, a scoop of gelato will often outweigh a similarly sized scoop of ice cream. Additionally, the slow-churning process gives gelato a silkier, softer mouthfeel that really lets its ingredients come through with tons of scrumptious flavor.

The Information on Ice Cream

While gelato can boast about its sales over recent years, ice cream is still the champion in the dessert category, particularly in the U.S. where it was expected to reach $10.8 billion in sales in 2014, according to Mintel research. While health enthusiasts might be making a move towards gelato as an alternative to ice cream, it doesn’t appear the ice cream industry is the least bit concerned. Ice cream’s versatility, creaminess and range of flavors are just hard to compete with.

In order to be called ice cream, a mixture must contain at least 10 percent milkfat, and usually a comparable number of nonfat milk solids, though many of the best ice creams in the world usually hover around 14-17 percent of the former. Beyond these ingredients, there are varying levels of sugar and egg yolks that come together to give ice cream its creamy, flavorful punch that so many adore. It’s probably the reason why so many who enjoy a healthy lifestyle still choose to keep ice cream as part of their healthy and happy diet.

When it’s being made, ice cream typically starts out with the ingredients being combined together into a velvety custard through a light cooking process. Afterward, the ice cream is churned at a higher speed than gelato in order to incorporate air into the mixture and give it its creamy volume – all of which is done at very low temperatures. Once the ice cream is completed, the finished product exhibits everything that people have come to love about it: a smooth, buttery texture that no one can resist.

Coming to the New York area? Be sure to visit our ice cream shop in Tarrytown, New York! We’re only steps away from the Tarrytown train station and the Riverwalk at the Tarrytown Harbor. Bring the whole family and enjoy some of the best handmade ice cream on the East Coast!




Phone. 914-502-0339