Gelato used to be a rarity, often only found in places where Italian immigrants gathered. Now it’s a nation-wide phenomenon. Chances are you’ve tasted the gelato made from one supplier in Franklin Park, Illinois. Angelo Quercio has been making gelato for 40 years and his product line can be found in hundreds of stores. 200 in the Chicago area alone!
His gelato is sold everywhere from Whole Foods to Piggly Wiggly, and he even provides it to local restaurants. His churns out thousands of gallons of gelato every week in more than 100 flavors. The most popular are pistachio, chocolate, lemon, and hazelnut, but he also offers exotic flavors like rose champagne, basil, or lavender.
Gelato is Italian for ice cream, and in fact Italians have been making ice cream for centuries. The very first ice cream machine was invented way back in 1686! But gelato really didn't take off until the early 1800s when the gelato cart was created.
Gelato is very different from American ice cream. It’s much denser and most recipes omit the eggs. Some gelatos have very little butterfat, while others have quite a lot. Traditional gelato must have at least 3.5% butterfat, compared to US requirements of 10% butterfat for ice cream.
Gelato is easy enough to make in a normal ice cream churn if you have a good recipe. You'll need a strong motor and the ability to control the amount of air whipped into the mixture in order to get a good consistency. Many soft serve machines now have the ability to make gelato as well.