Frozen trees have been around for thousands of years. There are various fascinating stories surrounding these tasty frozen beats and still some mystery behind the origins.
The Emperors of China had flavors such as honey or fruit added to snow to make frozen desserts.
It is believed that Nero, Emperor of Rome, sent slaves to the mountains to bring back ice and snow that was then mixed with fruit or honey.
It was the addition of milk that first made these frozen treats "ice cream". The Tang Dynasty in China claims the credit for adding cow and goat milk to grounded rice and letting it ferment. Ninety four icemen were in charge of this duty for the King Tang of Shang, not a job that you would easily find today.
Bernardo Buontalenti, a Florentine cook, is accredited with inventing modern ice cream in 1565. The first ice cream machine was invented by Sicilian Francesco Procopio dei Coltelli.
At first, gelato was a treat only for the rich. It could only be made in small quantities and had to be eaten within a few hours since it required too much ice to keep it frozen. It was not until the first gelato carts were invented in the 1920s that the popularity of the concoction is really great. The city of Varese in Italy claims credit for this invention.
With the creation of better ways to refrigerate and freeze foods, frozen desserts become more available to the general public. As the popularity of frozen treasures grows, different countries created their own versions. Gelato is considered the ice cream of Italy. The frozen dessert is made with many of the same ingredients as ice cream but with significantly less fat content and usually less sugar. The reason gelato contains less fat is due to the fact it's made with milk instead of cream.
The mix of water and sugar in gelato is what keeps it from freezing solid like ice cream. The mix acts as a kind of anti-freeze. Generally, gelato is made in two ways. One is a hot process that includes pasteurization. In the US a cold process is also popular.
While ice cream can be kept in a freezer for several months, gelato is best ate within a few days. Gelato is flavored with a variety of things including fruit and cocoa. Nuts, cookies, waffle biscuits, and chocolate flakes are sometimes added later, after the gelato is frozen.
People eating gelato for the first time are often surprised by the intense flavor. With less fat in the mix, the flavors are more pronounced.
Less air is whipped into gelato as opposed to ice cream. This makes in much denser and also adds to its more intense flavor. The consistency is softer making it so it has some similarities to soft-serve ice cream in the US
When looking for a place to try gelato, always insist on one that uses natural, not artificial flavors. Preferably, look for a shop that makes its own gelato in-house. Once you've sampled the intense flavors of gelato you may never return to ice cream again. Whether you choose a fruity concoction or chocolate covered in sprinkles, you will not regret your choice. It's certainly an indulgence on the pallet; one would never guess it's a healthier alternative to some other dessert options.