By Stella Lemper-Tabatsky, an undergraduate student in her 4th year at University of Pennsylvania. At the time of this writing, Stella was an intern at The Writer’s Grotto in San Francisco.
Craftsmanship comes in all shapes, sizes—and flavors. And, as exemplified in Erla Zwingle’s “The Secrets of an Italian Gelato Master,” in Craftsmanship’s Summer 2017 issue, the simple delectability of a frozen treat is far more complex than what we take home on a waffle cone.
Zwingle’s story about master Italian gelatiere Andrea Soban, who was just voted, by his peers, to be the 2017 gelatiere of the year, details the intricacies of gelato’s history and finessed recipes. Though most of us will never achieve the mastery of Andrea and his fellow gelatieres, we can try our hand at some amateur craftsmanship to bring a taste of the Veneto to our own kitchens.
Here are a few favorite tips (simple and easy to follow at home!) from the interwebs on how to make your own gelato:
It all starts with the basics. FoodNouveau, a Quebec-based pastry blog, which has won several International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) awards, suggests that “The best gelati are made with the best ingredients. Use super-fresh eggs, whole milk, and cream as well as top-quality flavorings, such as vanilla beans, pure vanilla extract, and cocoa powder. If you’re making fruit varieties, use seasonally fresh, perfectly ripe fruits or top-quality fruit purees.”
Equipment is sometimes an unavoidable necessity. According to FoodNouveau, superior texture comes only with the use of an ice cream maker. Fortunately, the slower churning speed of a home ice cream maker, as opposed to its speedy, commercial cousins, lends itself perfectly to gelato.
If buying a machine feels like too much, check out this recipe of David Lebovitz, esteemed chef, author, and food blogger, based in Paris, for making ice cream without a machine. These strategies can work for gelato as well, though don’t expect the velvety wonder of the pros to emerge, especially on your first try.
The popular British chef Jamie Oliver provides an alternate strategy, citing Sophia Brothers of Nonna’s Gelato, in NYC. Sophia advises that eggs are unnecessary for gelato, as opposed to conventional ice cream, which is what makes it so remarkably light and flavorful. She provides Nonna’s “recipe for the traditional Italian flavor Fior di Latte, which translates to, flower of milk. It’s a delicious milk gelato which we like to describe as the ultimate Mr. Whippy!”
So, whether you’re an Italian frozen treat connoisseur or an ice cream neophyte, you, too, can try your hand at an age-old culinary craft, just in time for the blistering August heat to roll in. Get whipping!
Postscript: Gelato is said to date back to the 16th century. Most credit Bernardo Buontalenti, a native of Florence, as the “inventor” of Gelato. Apparently, he delighted the court of Catherina dei Medici with his creation.