Gelato is also known as Italian-style ice cream and a frozen dessert. It has more milk, less cream, 70 percent less fat, creamier, and has less air than traditional ice cream, making the flavor much more intense. It is healthier: a 3.5 oz serving has 90 calories, 3 grams of fat and 10 grams of sugar, while the other has 125 calories, 7 grams of fat and 14 grams of sugar.

Gelato is one of the most popular types of ice cream. Many people want to learn how to make it in their own kitchen. Luckily, you can participate in an ice cream making course online, where you can learn the secrets of this fascinating frozen dessert.

Want to learn making ice cream from the best pastry masters? An artisan ice cream course is ideal for you. Here, you will learn gelato making using traditional techniques, recipes and ingredients.

In this article we will be discussing:

 

Marco Polo’s sherbet evolved into gelato flavors, a variety of Italian ice cream, some time in the 16th century. France was introduced to this Italian frozen dessert in 1533, by Catherine de Medici, who was the wife of Henry II. According to multiple sources, Bernardo Buontalenti, a native of Florence, introduced it to Catherine de Medici, who was instantly impressed. Although nobles enjoyed this dessert during this period, it wasn’t until the late 17th century that it became available to the general public.

Gelato flavors in an ice cream pan

Gelato Flavors

In 1686, a Sicilian named Francesco Procopio Dei Coltelli, was summoned to Paris, and opened the first establishment that sold it to the general public. Café Procope, as it was called, became an attractive literary establishment in France and was quickly copied by numerous other cafés across the country.

The History of Ice Cream

Ice cream and its multiple variations have held a special spot in our hearts for millennia. Our love for sweet frozen delights is not new. Ancient chefs worked tirelessly to come up with ways to create icy desserts. And the fortunate few who had a chance to have a scoop fell in love with them instantly.

So who invented ice cream?

Good question! Unfortunately, there’s no straight answer. The medal for the inventor has not been awarded, so we can’t precisely know who was the first and foremost master of icy desserts. We can only go by what history tells us:

Who invented Ice Cream?

The first mention of a dessert similar to ice cream comes from the Achaemenid Empire (now modern Iran) in about 500 B.C. Ancient Persians combined ice with honey and flavors to produce summertime treats. Faloodeh*, an icy Persian dessert still popular today, can be traced back to 400 B.C. It consists of vermicelli (a type of pasta), rose water, saffron, and dried fruits. Icy desserts became so popular, that Persians built yakhchals**, cone-shaped buildings especially designed to store ice during the sweltering summer months.

In Europe, ancient Greeks often ate snow mixed with fruit and honey in the open markets of Athens and Sparta during the 5th century B.C. Hippocrates even encouraged Greeks to consume this delight because “it livens the life juices and increases well-being”.

Ancient Romans also enjoyed their frozen desserts. The Roman Emperor Nero (37 to 68 A.D.) often welcomed his guests with chilled delicacies made of snow and fruit syrup.

The closest ancestor of modern-day of frozen dessert was created in China, during the 3 rd century B.C. The ancient Chinese made a frozen mixture of rice, milk and fruit syrup. They then poured a mixture of snow and saltpetre over the container, to lower the temperature to below the freezing point.

Back in Europe, after the collapse of the Roman Empire, it was forgotten. It wasn’t until Marco Polo returned to Venice from his 24-year Far East journey in 1295 that icy desserts became popular again. The icy sherbet recipes brought from China fascinated Venetian nobility and icy desserts quickly evolved across the country.

Ice cream in England and the United States

During the 16th century, the English created their own variety. Charles I of England was so impressed by this “frozen snow dessert”, that he offered his ice cream maker a lifetime pension in return for keeping the recipe secret.

Two different ice creams in England and the USA

Ice cream in England and the USA

However, the secret was kept only for a short period. The recipe was first published in Mrs. Mary Eales’s Receipts in 1718, in London. This was an amazing accomplishment, as the general public was now able to create their own at home.

Recipes evolved, new flavors were created and became a cheap, ubiquitous dessert across the country. By the mid-19th century, ice was imported from Norway, bringing down the price to one penny per scoop, and it was available everywhere.

It was first mentioned in the United States in 1744, as “some fine ice cream, with the strawberries and milk, eat most deliciously”, in the Oxford English Dictionary. In 1751, the first recipe was published in the United States, and the dessert quickly became popular in major cities. The first advertisement was created in 1777 and appeared in the New York Gazette.

In the ad, confectioner Philip Lenzi announced that it was “available almost every day” in his store. Official records show that President George Washington spent $200 for ice cream during the summer of 1790, while Thomas Jefferson developed his own 18-step recipe.

Although it was popular in the United States during the late 18th century, it was reserved only for the elites, as the ice was difficult to obtain and store. In the early 1800s, insulated ice houses were invented which helped expand ice cream’s popularity.

The first efficient machines were invented in 1851, by Jacob Fussell, a Baltimore based milk dealer. Further developments in steam technology, motors, electricity, and packing machines, helped it become of the most sought after desserts in the country. By 1946, the average American was eating 20 quarts per year.

Gelato in the USA

It was first introduced in the United States by Giovanni Basiolo, in 1770, in New York. Other Italian immigrants opened their own cafés in New York and other major cities across the country and grew its popularity during the 19th century together with the Italian diaspora, particularly in major cities on the East Coast.

USA flag with three cone of gelato ice cream

Gelato in the USA

As technology improved, it became even more popular in the United States. The introduction of the first automatic ice cream machine in 1904 opened up new markets in the country. The motorized batch freezer also helped make it available to the general public.

From the 1950s, gelato ice cream has become a symbol of Italian cuisine and pastry in the United States, and it is commonly found in both supermarkets and in local cafés. It is a very versatile dessert and now often made at home, in multiple varieties, flavors, and textures.

 

Learn how to make gelato professionally

How to make Gelato Professionally