Have you ever wondered what the difference is between ice cream and gelato? Gelato is denser than ice cream because it has less fat. Ice cream is typically made with cream. Cream, with its high fat content, incorporates more air during churning. Ice cream has more fat, more air and is less dense. Gelato, made with half and half has less fat, less air, and is more dense.
There is another significant difference. Real gelato doesn’t use eggs yolks as a thickener. Instead cornstarch is substituted and that really makes a difference in the taste. The flavor of the fruit really shines in Gelato. This recipe for strawberry gelato is from Jon Snyder of II Lab oratorio del Gelato in New York’s Lower East Side.
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3 cups half and half, divided
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
About 2 quarts fresh strawberries (about 8 cups)
Use the freshest strawberries available. Local, in season is your best bet! Rinse then air-dry strawberries completely on paper towels.
Whisk cornstarch and ¼ cup half and half together in a small bowl to make slurry. Set aside.
Combine sugar and 2 ¾ cups half and half together in a medium size saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Remove pan from heat and whisk in slurry. Return pan to medium heat and cook, stirring the whole time, until mixture comes to a boil and thickens slightly (about 8-10 minutes total time). Pour mixture into a heatproof (stainless steel) bowl and cool completely in an ice bath (about 25 minutes).
While mixture is cooling remove caps from strawberries and quarter. Mash enough berries with a potato masher until crushed and juicy to yield 3 cups strawberry puree. Stir puree into half and half mixture. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled about 2 hours (I use an ice bath in the refrigerator for 2 hours. You can also refrigerate overnight or up to 2 days.)
Pour half of cold strawberry mixture into freezer bowl of a 1½-quart electric ice cream maker and proceed according to manufacturer’s directions. (Since you are only processing half the volume of the chilled strawberry mixture at a time, the ice cream should freeze in less time than the manufacturers’ directions indicate. Less time equals less air in the gelato and more concentrated strawberry flavor!)
Transfer gelato to a freezer safe container. Press a sheet of plastic wrap or parchment paper directly on surface of ice cream (so ice crystals won’t form). Seal container with airtight lid.
Refreeze ice cream maker freezer bowl and repeat churning process with remaining chilled strawberry mixture. Remove freezer container with first batch of gelato. Remove plastic wrap or parchment paper. Layer gelato on top of first batch then press plastic wrap or parchment paper directly on surface of gelato. Seal container with airtight lid. Freeze at least 8 hours or overnight to harden. Makes about 7 cups.
Published in The News and Neighbor on May 8, 2019.