We went to a gelato production facility to see a demonstration of how gelato is made. The president and vice president of the Association of Ice Cream Makers were there. The lady showed us how to make the fior di latte, the base for most gelatos. She first mixed the sugars: glucose, dextrose, and normal granulated sugar. The ratio determines how thick the gelato will be; dextrose prevents gelato from being too frozen and glucose makes it thick. Powder milk is added to make richer. Neutral powder is added to help ingredients angulate together. Local, fresh, high quality whole milk is added. Cream is added. The mixture is put down a funnel inside the machine that mixes, pasteurizes, and cools the gelato. It whips the mixture to force air into the liquid and make it more solid. The machine gets colder, to the negative degrees, than the gelato to make sure the gelato doesn’t melt. For small quantities, it takes about 20 minutes. When it is done, the gelato is poured onto a frozen track to prevent thermal shock.
In Italy, the production of gelato is important. There are many strict laws that gelato-makers must follow and those laws are constantly being updated. Also, they take their jobs very seriously and make sure that the product they make is safe for their customers. They still pasteurize the mixture even though the milk they use has already been pasteurized. They also take great care of making sure there is no contamination for those people who are allergic to nuts or eggs or are gluten intolerant. One thing that I noticed is that the gelato making process is very secretive. Each maker has their own special recipe with different ratios. They take great care in making sure no one knows the ratio. During the demonstration, everything was pre-measured and stored in measureless containers.
The fior di latte that we tasted was amazing; it tasted like milk. I never knew that flavorless gelato would taste so good. It reminded me of the milk-flavored popsicles that I used to eat in China. The gelato was very creamy and smooth, and sweet. It would just melt in my mouth, much softer than ice cream. The gelato did start melting quickly after I started eating it; it explains why it must be kept at low temperatures at all times. I defintely prefer gelato over ice cream.