Italy has a rich and strong tradition in bakery products. Every region and every single village has been contributing to the Italian gastronomic heritage with their traditional bakery recipes.
Italian Gelato is loved worldwide. It is sweet, creamy and tasty, characteristics that make it desirable for each season of the year and each moment of the day, not only as a summer dessert. Italians invented the Gelato and introduced it all over the world: today Italy is the first producer of ice cream in Europe, with a large variety of gelato products. Many gelato specialties derive their recipes from the ancient handcraft traditions, especially from Sicily. Among the most famous gelato specialities we can find tartufo, cassata, sorbets and gelato cakes.
Gelato was officially born in 16th century, but ice and snow-made desserts, very similar to slushee or Italian “granita”, were already eaten back in Roman times. Ice cream was officially born in 1565, at the court of Cosimo de’ Medici where a “creamy ice cream” was served for the very first time during a banquet. The first gelato was created by Bernardo Buontalenti, artist and engineer from Florence, who invented a machine to freeze milk, wine and fruit, providing all these substances with a creamy consistency. The marriage between Caterina de’ Medici and the King of France, Henry II, contributed in spreading ice cream at the French court: since then Italian ice cream became popular in every European court. Industrial production of gelato started only in the nineteenth century, in the United States. Baltimore hosted the first prototype for the creation of non-artisanal ice cream, in 1851, thanks to a wealthy milk trader who, trying to turn his daily milk excess into an icy cream, created the ice cream. Italian first industrial gelato appeared on the market in 1949: it was the fiordilatte. Ten years later, in 1959, the famous cornetto was born.
Today, the modern Italian ice cream industry is working on a variety of high quality innovations, differentiated by the time and occasion of use, to make gelato a part of every-day shopping. Gelato is an iced cream created through the inflation of air. Water is the main ingredient, followed by sugar and all the others ingredients that give taste and flavor to the gelato. The first step of the process of production of gelato is mixing all the ingredients to make a liquid cream. Then, the liquid is pasteurized in order to eliminate the presence of pathogens (heat-treated at 80-85°C/ 176-185°F). After a quick cooling, the liquid is left at 4°C/ 39°F temperature for half a day, to favor a better combination of all its components. The next stage is freezing at – 5°C/ 23°F temperature: the mixture is stirred (giusto per non ripetere “the mixture is mixed) so that water shapes microscopic ice crystals, while air is trapped and scattered in countless little bubbles. At this point, ice cream is further cooled, reaching a -25°C/-13°F temperature, in order to become compact. Ice cream must be stored at a temperature of -18°C/-0,4°F.
Gelato has great nutritional and energy properties and its easy digestibility makes it particularly suitable for the diet of children and sportsmen. Gelato is a well-balanced product that provides proteins, lipids and carbohydrates in the right proportion: 100 grams of milk-cream ice cream provide about 200 calories, 4 grams of proteins, 26 of carbohydrates and 9 of fats; 100 grams of fruit sorbet have a 120 calorie intake, ad are lower both in fats and calories, while higher in vitamins.