You are on page 1of 11

10/28/2016 Basics from Gelato Messina by Nick Palumbo | Cooked

Nick Palumbo
0 recipes
Published by
Hardie Grant Books
Billy Law

Core Ingredients
Like any food product, especially in the gelato and patisserie arena, there are several key ingredients that are
critical to achieving a well-balanced and textured product. Some of these ingredients are for taste, some for
texture and some are simply necessary in order for the gelato to be edible at a sub-zero temperature.

The purpose of this chapter is not to get down to the scientific level but, rather, to give you a brief idea of
why we use certain ingredients and the effects they have on your recipe.

Gelato making is an ever-evolving process and new research is coming out all the time, so if this sort of thing
intrigues you and youd like to learn more, there is ample information on the internet, or sign up for a gelato
course; these are run by companies such as Carpigiani (makers of gelato equipment) at various times of the

It may seem strange to think of water as an ingredient, but whether we are talking about a gelato, ice cream
or sorbet, water by weight is the most voluminous ingredient in any recipe.

Milk and cream by weight hold the largest amount in any ice cream or gelato recipe, but milk is nearly 90%
water and cream is almost 60% water, so you can see that most recipes contain quite a lot of water. Sorbets,
too, are generally made with fresh fruits and water, and because most fruits contain about 90% water, again
you can see that water is the dominating ingredient.

But what happens when water is chilled to 0C? Obviously, it begins to turn into ice. So if water turns into
ice and we have a large amount of water in all gelato, ice creams and sorbets, this could become a major
problem we arent making flavoured ice blocks, we are making gelato and there shouldnt be any ice in

A well-balanced recipe ensures that all the water present finds a home it gets absorbed by a solid and
therefore will not present itself as an ice crystal in your finished gelato.

Water is readily absorbed by some solids such as sugars, but it wont be absorbed by solids like fats, so there
will always be a percentage of water that is not absorbed but is bound to another ingredient, such as fat.
The result, however, is the same: less chance of free-flowing water, which can turn into ice and destroy the
texture of your gelato.

When we talk about total percentage of water in a recipe, we have some general rules that account for almost
all gelato, but please remember that there will always be exceptions to the rule.

In gelato the percentage of water ranges from 54% to 70%; the rest are solids, generally made up of sugars,
fats and proteins. 1/11
10/28/2016 Basics from Gelato Messina by Nick Palumbo | Cooked

In sorbet the percentage of water ranges from 65% to 75%; the rest are solids, generally made up of sugars
and fruit fibres.

One last point on water. When adding any water to a recipe, my rule is: If you wouldnt drink it yourself,
then dont use it to make gelato or sorbet.

I am often asked if its best to use spring water or mineral water and yes you can use either one, but save
your money; no one will ever know. This doesnt mean you can use any water; the water must be clean and
not have any foreign tastes like chlorine. Its a good idea to set up a water filter and regularly change the

When we think of ice cream or gelato, milk is generally the first ingredient that comes to mind. Its virtually
irreplaceable in ice cream and alternatives such as soy, rice or almond milk, Im sorry to say, just dont cut it,
at least for my palate. Having said that, I do like to experiment with these; the results are often pleasing and
interesting, but they will always be an alternative.

Milk contains nearly 90% water; the rest is approximately 3.5% fat, 3.5% proteins and 6% carbohydrates
(namely lactose, a sugar). All four main elements of milk have a critical function in any gelato recipe but,
unfortunately, not in the amounts required. We therefore need to add more of each of these ingredients from
other sources, which are listed further on in this chapter.

The question of UHT (ultra-high temperature) milk versus fresh milk versus milk powder deserves a
mention. All three will give you a satisfactory result but only fresh milk will give you a truly exceptional

The issue with UHT milk is that it gets pasteurised at very high temperatures and so it caramelises the lactose
(sugar), giving the milk a slightly cooked flavour. Milk powder is dehydrated milk and contains a high
percentage of animal fats, which tend to go rancid very quickly. This results in a taste thats close to milk but,
like the UHT milk, has a slight variation. The only real reason to use UHT or milk powder is if you are
making your gelato in a country where fresh milk is difficult to find or is extremely expensive. There is
absolutely no reason why you would not use fresh milk except perhaps if you are making gelato on a
commercial scale and you are building your gelato to a price.

When using milk, ensure that its from a trusted source and that it has been kept below 4C. Its also
important that it has been pasteurised and homogenised.

Cream is the source for the majority of fats found in gelato. It has a great flavour and its mouthfeel is
unmatched by any other type of fat because it has the tendency to melt at close to our body temperature.

As we are making gelato and not ice cream, we generally use significantly less cream in our recipes. We aim
for about 4% to 8% total butter fat (fat derived from dairy), but remember that your finished gelato may
contain around 12% total fats if you have added ingredients such as nut pastes.

By law, commercial ice cream must contain a minimum of 10% butter fat. Gelato has no such rules, only
averages that, over the years, gelato makers have come to respect.

All the recipes in this book are made with fresh, pure cream, which has a fat content of 35%. There are many
other types of creams and there is no reason why you cant use double (thick) cream, mascarpone or low-fat
cream, but their fat content will structurally alter your end result. For example, if you use a cream with a
55% fat content, then your gelato will resemble more of an ice cream and you will find that it will set harder
in your freezer because of an excess of fat solids. 2/11
10/28/2016 Basics from Gelato Messina by Nick Palumbo | Cooked

When using cream, ensure that its from a trusted source, has been kept below 4C and has been pasteurised.

Skim milk powder (SMP)

Not to be confused with milk powder

Skim milk powder is a critical ingredient as it helps us bulk up the total proteins in our gelato recipe. There is
no fat in SMP; its made up of mainly milk proteins and lactose, both of which are desirable in correct

Think of proteins as the building block of your gelato. Proteins help give the gelato structure and also
facilitate air incorporation during the churning stage. The protein molecules help trap the air and keep it in
the gelato once churned; this aids in what we call the scoopability of the gelato. Gelato, or any ice cream or
sorbet, needs a certain percentage of air; without it, it will be hard and difficult to scoop.

The lactose also has its function. Even though lactose is a sugar, we dont consider it as such because its not
very sweet, but what it does do is absorb lots of water, and thus helps control some of the water in our recipe.

A word of warning: if you use too much SMP, you will end up with a powdery or sandy-textured gelato. This
is because the lactose in the SMP will soak up all the water in the recipe and the excess SMP will simply
remain as a powder not very nice. If you use too little, then there will be lots of freeflowing water present
and you will end up with ice crystals in your gelato again, not very nice.

The total percentage of SMP in any recipe should be between 4% and 5% but, again, this will work for only
95% of gelato recipes. I have a simple rule: the more solids I have in my gelato, the less SMP I use; the less
solids, the more SMP I use to absorb the extra water in the recipe.

Sugar is important because without it, there is no gelato, sorbet or ice cream, or at least one that can be
served in the traditional way.

While sweetness is an important attribute of sugar, its not the only reason its used. Sweetness definitely has
its place because, like using salt in cooking to lift the flavour, sugar helps lift the flavours in your gelato,
especially fruit flavours, but it is important that we find the correct balance of sweetness.

Sugar has two other amazing properties. Firstly, it has the ability to lower the freezing point of your gelato,
meaning that at a sub-zero temperature you can trick the gelato into not freezing hard. Think of it as an

Secondly, the carbohydrates in sugar help warm the gelato at sub-zero temperatures. The best analogy I can
think of is ice. Imagine taking an ice cube from the freezer and placing it on your tongue. After only a few
seconds you would encounter freezer burn so why is it possible that you can grab gelato out of the same
freezer at the same temperature and place it on your tongue without anywhere near the amount of discomfort
as the ice? Its the sugar in the gelato that helps to keep it soft at a sub-zero temperature and gives you the
illusion of it being warmer than ice, making it pleasurable to eat.

So the trick is to use sugar for sweetness and texture, but herein lies the balancing act. We know that by
simply increasing the sugar content you will achieve a soft gelato, but it will be sweeter; conversely,
reducing the amount of sugar will result in a harder gelato, but it wont be as sweet. As a general rule, gelato
has 16% to 22% sugar and sorbets have 26% to 30% total sugar content.

Understanding the different types of sugars available to you as a gelato maker is vital, as not all sugars act
the same. I like to use caster (superfine) sugar for my recipes, as it dissolves easily, but there is no reason 3/11
10/28/2016 Basics from Gelato Messina by Nick Palumbo | Cooked

why you can't use ordinary granulated sugar.

Dextrose is the most important secondary sugar we have after caster (superfine) and granulated sugar. It is
indispensable in gelato recipes because it gives you great flexibility.

Dextrose has only 70% of the sweetness of sugar but has the incredible ability of being able to reduce the
freezing point by nearly two times. This means that by introducing some dextrose to your gelato recipe as
part of your total sugars, you can make your gelato less sweet and, critically, softer at serving temperatures.

Heres an example of how to use dextrose in a recipe:

Flavours with a high solid content are generally the flavours that have a higher fat content. For example, a
recipe for hazelnut gelato that uses the correct amount of hazelnut paste will result in a gelato with about 6%
butter fat and about 5% to 6% fat from the hazelnuts 12% in total.

This would push up the total solids in your hazelnut gelato to around 40% or even 42%, meaning that it will
be a heavy gelato. Gelato with 12% fat and a total solid content of 42% will freeze harder because the extra
solids and fat solidify more than, say, a vanilla gelato with 6% fat and 34% total solids.

The question is, how do we make a hazelnut gelato with the same texture and consistency as the vanilla

You could add more sugar, because the extra sugar will make the hazelnut gelato softer to compensate for the
extra solids and fats, although this will make the gelato sweeter as well. This may not be desirable, as you
want your gelato to have the same perceived sweetness across all flavours.

Dextrose would be ideal in this situation because dextrose has a greater antifreezing capacity than sugar and
is less sweet.

So Assume that you need to add an extra 100 g of sugar to your hazelnut gelato in order to achieve the
correct consistency at sub-zero temperatures. You could replace the sugar with 50 g of dextrose because
dextrose has double the antifreezing capacity of sugar and it only has 70% of the sweetness of sugar.

In essence, using 50 g of dextrose will give you the added sweetness of 35 g of sugar (50 g/1 oz x 70%)
and the same antifreezing capacity as 100 g of sugar.

Trust me, very few people will pick up on that extra sweetness and your hazelnut gelato will behave the same
as your vanilla gelato, even though it has more solids.

A final point on dextrose. Technically you could replace all the sugar in your recipe with half the amount in
dextrose. Structurally and visually it will look and perform like the 100% sugar version, but because you are
now only adding 50% of the carbohydrates, you will have less solids absorbing less water, meaning that you
run the risk of ice crystals forming, not to mention the fact that the gelato will stick to your tongue like an ice
cube (the lack of carbohydrates means you will have a colder mouthfeel). I like to keep the amount of
dextrose used to 10% to 30% of the total sugars, remembering that you use more dextrose for heavier, fattier
flavours and less for lighter flavours.


This is another important sugar because it has great binding properties and virtually no sweetness. Think of it
as the cornflour (cornstarch) for gelato. Maltodextrin is great to use in sorbets and alcohol-based flavours
where the solid content is quite low and you need something that will help bind the excess water present.

The table below shows different types of sugars and their sweetness and antifreezing capabilities. Note that 4/11
10/28/2016 Basics from Gelato Messina by Nick Palumbo | Cooked

we use sugar as our reference point when comparing the sweetness and antifreezing capabilities of these
other sugars.

SUGAR: sweetness = 100 / antifreezing capability = 1

DEXTROSE: sweetness = 70 / antifreezing capability = 1.9

MALTODEXTRIN: sweetness = 20 / antifreezing capability = 0.3

FRUCTOSE: sweetness = 170 / antifreezing capability = 1.9

GLUCOSE SYRUP: sweetness = 50 / antifreezing capability = 0.8

INVERT SUGAR: sweetness = 125 / antifreezing capability = 1.9

Notes: Sweetness greater than 100 is sweeter than sugar; less than 100 is not as sweet as sugar. An
antifreezing capability greater than 1 has more antifreezing capability than sugar; less Than 1 has less
antifreezing capability than sugar.

Below outlines some different sugar combinations for different flavours and can be used as a reference point
in a recipe that you have never tried before. Once you make the gelato using one of these combinations, you
will better understand how to alter your recipe if the gelato is too sweet or not sweet enough, or if its too soft
or too hard at serving temperature. Its all about constantly experimenting and understanding the ingredients
youre using.

(SWEETNESS: 1 = sweetest / ANTIFREEZING CAPABILITY: 1 = softest at sub-zero temperatures)




SWEETNESS = 2 / ANTIFREEZING CAPABILITY = 1 / POSSIBLE USE: high solids or high fat e.g. 39%
solids and above

SUGAR: 70 g / DEXTROSE: 20 g / MALTODEXTRIN: 10 g / TOTAL SUGARS = 100 g

SWEETNESS = 3 / ANTIFREEZING CAPABILITY = 2 / POSSIBLE USE: medium solids e.g. 34% to 39%

SUGAR: 70 g / DEXTROSE: 10 g / MALTODEXTRIN: 20 g / TOTAL SUGARS = 100 g

SWEETNESS = 4 / ANTIFREEZING CAPABILITY = 4 / POSSIBLE USE: low solids, such as sorbet or

low-fat gelato 30% to 34%


SWEETNESS = 5 / ANTIFREEZING CAPABILITY = 5 / POSSIBLE USE: very low solids and alcoholic

There are many other sugars we can use, such as glucose, fructose and invert sugar. These all have different
characteristics but the purpose of this book is to introduce you to the world of gelato and a few key points on
formulating basic recipes. With time, you may start introducing some of these sugars, but I find that dextrose
and maltodextrin can be used to make endless recipes and give you great flexibility in terms of serving

Sugars such as honey, treacle, golden syrup, molasses and maple syrup can all be used too, but you will need
to replace a portion of the sugar with one of these. If you simply add any of these to a standard vanilla recipe,
it wont freeze because you will have too much sugar in your recipe. 5/11
10/28/2016 Basics from Gelato Messina by Nick Palumbo | Cooked

In the early days of gelato and ice cream making, eggs were an integral part of all recipes, not for flavour but
because of the physical attributes of the egg yolk.

Eggs have three critical ingredients that are required in any gelato recipe: fat, protein and lecithin.

As we know, fats are important because they give the gelato its creamy mouthfeel and also help give the
illusion that the gelato is warmer than what it actually is (as do sugars). Proteins help with air incorporation
and give the gelato its body and scoopability, and lecithin, a natural emulsifier, helps bind the water in the
milk to the fat in the egg yolk and milk.

One of the oldest gelato recipes I could find is as follows:

Milk: 1 litre Sugar: 300 g Egg yolk: 200 g

This recipe predates any research that was conducted on gelato or before stabilisers were created for gelato
purposes, and I recommend you try it at least once. The recipe wont result in the most amazing gelato
youve ever made, because we have now replaced all the key ingredients of the egg yolk with better versions
of each.

Fat: This now comes from cream, which has a cleaner mouthfeel.

Proteins: Now come from skim milk powder, which is much better suited to help with air incorporation and

Lecithin: Now comes from specialty stabilisers and emulsifiers specifically for gelato and ice cream
production (lecithin is not a good emulsifier at subzero temperatures; more on this further on).

So, today, we really only use egg yolks when we require egg flavour.

One last point is that we never use the egg whites. In the past, whipped egg whites were used in sorbets to
help aerate them, but the aeration only lasts a day at best before collapsing, because the proteins are not
strong enough to endure freezing. Also, the risk of bacteria is enormous with raw egg whites, so there really
arent any reasons for their use in gelato.

A tip: Before cracking an egg, please wash the shell first. Even though eggs are washed at packing, they may
have hair-line fractures, which can cause a leak, contaminating the rest of the eggs in the carton. To wash the
shells, use lightly soaped water and wipe over the egg, then rinse well under cold water.

Stabilisers & emulsifiers

The reason why gelato and ice cream are now commercially viable and edible after days, weeks, months and
even years is mainly due to the types of stabilisers and emulsifiers used in gelato making.

There has been a lot of talk about E numbers (a reference code used by the food industry in Australia, New
Zealand and the European Union for additives and preservatives that can be added to food; in the United
States, these are usually labelled by name), but remember that every additive, whether good or bad, natural
or manufactured, has an E number prescribed to it, so its not fair to discard them or avoid them simply
because of this.

We can break these additives into two categories: stabilisers and emulsifiers.

Stabilisers 6/11
10/28/2016 Basics from Gelato Messina by Nick Palumbo | Cooked

Stabilisers thicken and absorb much of the water present in your recipe. They can absorb up to ten times their
weight in water and they also give the gelato flexibility in its frozen state. The best analogy I have is to think
of them as a sponge that soaks up water and retains it.

Some stabilisers, such as xanthan gum, are great for sorbets because they are acid resistant and can work at
room temperature during preparation. Others, such as guar gum, are great for dairy and work at room
temperature as well. The ultimate stabiliser is locust bean gum, but its use is limited because it needs to be at
a temperature of 85C or above during preparation in order for it to do its job properly.

These bind the fat particles to the water present in your gelato. Fat and water do not mix, so you need an
emulsifier to help do the job. Think of when you make a vinaigrette. You mix the oil and vinegar and then
you shake them to help blend the two ingredients. After a few moments, separation begins and over time, the
two ingredients totally separate.

Youll notice, however, that when you go to your local supermarket that the shelves are filled with different
types of salad dressings, all perfectly blended. There is no salad dressing manager who goes around
periodically shaking the bottles the dressing doesnt separate because emulsifiers are used during

The most common emulsifier in gelato and ice cream is mono and diglycerides of fatty acids. Yes, that does
sound a bit freaky, but we use it in very small quantities, roughly 3 g per kilogram of gelato mix, and this
product has been used for decades in a host of food products.

Stabilisers are usually sold blended, depending on whether you are making a sorbet or dairy flavour. Based
on a 5 g dose per kilogram of gelato mix, the break up is about:

2 g of stabiliser 3 g of emulsifier

Its best to buy stabilisers from companies that deal with gelato ingredients. Stabilisers are sold separately in
bulk bags of about 25 kg each, but we use so little of them that it would take a lifetime to get through a bag,
so I recommend you buy them blended in 1 kg packets.

You can make gelato without stabilisers and emulsifiers, but you will compromise the texture and storage
time. However, if you make gelato and you are planning to eat it within a few hours of churning, you can do
away with them.

A note regarding ingredients

You will notice that all weights in the recipes, whether they are solid or liquid, have been given in grams.
Some of the ingredients are measured in quite small quantities, so you will need to invest in a good quality
kitchen scale, if you dont already own one, and all your ingredients will need to be weighed out (not
measured by volume).

The reason we must weigh our ingredients is not only for accuracy but also because when you want to
calculate, say, the fat content of gelato, you need to know how many grams of fat there is in 1 litre of milk,
for example. A litre of milk weighs 1030 g/36 oz (not 1000 g/35 oz as most people would assume) so if milk
has 3.5% fat, you need to base your calculations on the weight of the ingredient in question.

Balancing & Composition

There is a lot of misconception about what gelato actually is. Gelato is simply the Italian word for ice cream.
This statement may cause an uproar among the gelato chefs outside of Italy who will tell you about fat
percentages and air content, and so on 7/11
10/28/2016 Basics from Gelato Messina by Nick Palumbo | Cooked

The confusion lies in the fact that in most English-speaking countries, there are laws on what you can call
ice cream. Ice cream must have a minimum of 10% butter fat in order for it to be called ice cream. If it has
less than 10% fat you can call it a gelato, but you cant call it ice cream.

In Italy, whether it has 2% or 10% fat its called gelato there is no differentiation or law like there is in
countries such as Australia, England and the United States.

Having said this, there are some parameters that, over the years, have become typical of what we call gelato,
but generally you can call your recipe a gelato, as long as it contains some dairy.

Sorbets are a little different; sorbets are simply dairy free and usually consist of water and fruits. They
contain virtually no fat and range from 26% to 32% sugar.

So, the most common ranges that we work with are as follows:

For gelato: fat 4% to 8% / sugar 16% to 22% / total solids 36% to 43%

For ice cream: fat 10% to 16% (minimum from dairy must be 10%) / sugar 18% to 24% / total solids 38% to

For sorbet: sugars 26% to 32% / no dairy

Gelato typically has less fat and sugar than ice cream, and when you consider that fat carries 37.7 kilojoules
for every gram and sugar has 16.7 kilojoules, you can see that ice cream has way more kilojoules than a
typical gelato.

The other key difference is the amount of air that is incorporated in the freezing stage. Standard domestic ice
cream or gelato machines may give you 10% air incorporation (this is why it goes rock hard in the freezer
overnight); professional gelato machines give you around 20% to 45% air; and industrial ice cream machines
50% to 100% yes 100%! That means a 1000 g recipe yields 2 litres of ice cream. No wonder ice cream is
often so much cheaper than gelato because half of it can be air!

The equipment that turns a mix into ice cream in major factories is totally different to what we use in a
gelateria. We use a batch freezer, meaning we do one batch at a time, while the factories use a continuous
freezing system: a liquid mix enters one end of the machine, air is pumped in while it freezes, then it comes
out of the other end as ice cream. This pump system allows you to regulate how much air you want to add
into the ice cream, so therefore the cheaper the brand of ice cream, the more air it contains.

Equipment & method

Now that you are familiar with the key ingredients used in gelato, an understanding of the method and
equipment we use will help you achieve the best results for both domestic and professional applications.

Professional gelato equipment is very expensive and domestic machines are not exactly miniature versions of
the real deal, so achieving great results at home is extremely difficult. There are a few machines out there
that will meet you half way (like a Pacojet or a Carpigiani Freeze & Go), but these guys are still expensive
and unless you use them frequently, dont warrant the expense.

For the domestic versions of the recipes, I have tried to give you the best possible method using everyday
equipment and a normal ice cream machine. However, please be aware that domestic ice cream machines
take a long time to turn your mix into gelato, meaning theres a greater chance of larger ice particles forming,
giving the gelato a grainy texture. Also, these machines do not allow for much air incorporation, meaning
your gelato will tend to be heavy and dense. If you then freeze it overnight, the quality of the product will be
affected. Gelato made at home should be made in small quantities and served soon after youve made it.

Pasteurisation 8/11
10/28/2016 Basics from Gelato Messina by Nick Palumbo | Cooked

Pasteurisation is the process where you mix all your ingredients and heat them to a specific temperature. This
heat treatment is done for two reasons.

The first is to ensure that you kill off as many bacteria as possible in your ingredients, especially in the milk
and cream. In the mid 1860s, Louis Pasteur, the French chemist and microbiologist, discovered that if you
heat raw milk up to 70C and refrigerate it quickly, you could prolong the life of milk. For this reason, we
pasteurise most gelato, with the exception of sorbets (you can pasteurise sorbets if you want to, but it does
alter the taste of the fruit). There are three common methods of pasteurising.

Low pasteurisation
Heat to 65C and hold at 65C for 30 minutes, then cool to 4C within 1 hour. You would use this form of
pasteurisation for delicate flavours with low amounts of solids and minimal vegetable fats. You must ensure
that you use stabilisers that work at low temperature ranges, such as guar gum or xanthan gum.

Medium pasteurisation

Heat to 75C and hold at 75C for 15 minutes, then cool to 4C within 1 hour.

This form of pasteurisation is good for flavours that contain egg, because eggs need to be heated to 72C
before the proteins start to thicken the mix (if eggs are heated over 75C, you run the risk of overcooking

High pasteurisation
Heat to 85C and drop straight back down to 4C within 1 hour.

This form of pasteurisation is good for flavours that are high in vegetable fats, such as hazelnut and cocoa, as
these fats require extreme heat to break down. When using this method, use the best possible stabiliser
available: locust bean gum, if available.

An important point to note from all three methods is the cooling down time of 1 hour to 4C. Its imperative
that this occurs, because from 45C to 15C on the way down to 4C, your mix will start forming bacteria
again, bacteria that you destroyed when you cooked the mix using one of the three methods above.

This is why when making gelato at home, I ask that you place your mixture in an ice bath to cool it down
from 85C to about 40C and then place it in the freezer until it cools to 4C. If you let the mix cool down
naturally, it will take hours and all the bacteria will form again. If you dont cool down the mix as quickly as
possible, you could actually create more bacteria than what you began with this is a health warning!

The best way to use the pasteuriser is to put all the liquids in first and when it gets to about 40C on the way
up, mix in all your powders. Its no different than using a saucepan, but the problem with using a pan is that
you need to constantly whisk the ingredients or they will catch and burn on the bottom of the pan. For this
reason, I recommend for the domestic recipes that you use a double boiler. The heat is transferred through
steam and water rather than directly off the stovetop, so there is less risk of burning your ingredients.

The second reason why we pasteurise is because its the best way of mixing all your ingredients.

Making gelato is basically the art of binding water to solids and then ensuring that it is scoopable at sub-zero
temperatures. In order to achieve this, we heat all our raw materials under agitation; this will help break
down the solids into smaller and smaller particles. This process is called homogenising. And this is why you
should use homogenised milk: the fat and protein particles in the milk are already smashed into smaller
particles for you. Even though a normal pasteuriser will never do the same job as a proper homogeniser that
the dairy industry uses, the heat and agitation will break down the solid particles in your recipe more so than
doing it over a stove with a whisk.

The smaller particles will have a greater surface area and so they will be able to absorb more and more water. 9/11
10/28/2016 Basics from Gelato Messina by Nick Palumbo | Cooked

Heat also helps to break down the fat particles, allowing the emulsifier to help bind any fat particles to water.
The smaller the particle size of all your solids, the more water they will absorb and the less likely chance of a
grainy gelato.

Ageing means leaving the mixture to rest at 4C for a few hours after the pasteurisation cycle is finished. The
longer the better, but I find no improvement if you age it for more than 6 hours, however there is nothing
wrong in making the mixture and letting it age overnight in the fridge.

During the ageing process you are allowing the mix to settle down, giving the solids time to absorb any
excess water that hasnt already found a home in the solids, therefore reducing the risk of ice crystals
forming in your gelato. Ageing also helps with the air incorporation during the churning phase, as all the
proteins are hydrated and can trap air particles with more ease.

Normal pasteurisers are designed to age the mix for you once the pasteurisation stage is over. They basically
become fridges that store your mix at 4C under intermittent agitation.

Once your mix has been pasteurised and aged, its then ready to be turned into gelato.

In professional gelaterias we use a batch freezer. These are expensive machines that can make upwards of 20
litres of gelato in 15 minutes. If youre making gelato on a commercial scale, you cant do it any other way.

There are lots of batch freezers on the market and you can get quite amazing ones that do lots of other stuff
as well, like the Carpigiani Maestro; this machine makes custards, tempers chocolate and can even make

But on the gelato front, the batch freezers job is to take your mix at 4C and churn it into gelato at a
temperature of 6C, within a 15-minute period. During this process, air is incorporated and a good gelato
mix should be able to incorporate 25% to 40% air. Its imperative that your gelato mix is capable of
accepting this quantity of air because this will give your gelato a soft and smooth texture when frozen.

You can work out the percentage of air (we call it overrun) by weighing your mix in a container (before
churning), then subtracting the weight of the gelato that fits into that same container (after churning) and
then dividing it by the weight of the gelato and multiplying by 100.

for example: weight of mix (100 g) weight of gelato (80 g) = 20 g divide by weight of gelato (80 g) then
multiply by 100 = 25%

Batch freezers can take your gelato mix down to 6C within a short period of time; this means you will get
smaller ice crystals forming. If it takes too long to bring the mix down to 6C (say more than 20 minutes),
then you will end up with larger ice crystals, which is not desirable.

A domestic machine takes much longer to churn, so place your mixture in the freezer for 20 minutes before
churning, so the mix is as close to 0C as possible, and switch the machine on a few minutes beforehand to
get it really cold. This could shave 10 minutes off your churn time, reducing the possibility of ice crystals

Dont expect much aeration in these machines; 10% would be amazing, although not ideal. They dont beat
the mix fast enough and thats why you need to eat home-made gelato within a few hours of making it.

Final freezing & storage 10/11
10/28/2016 Basics from Gelato Messina by Nick Palumbo | Cooked

Batch freezers only reduce the temperature of your mixture to about 6C; they cant go lower than that
because the beater simply could not cope with the harder mixture, so it is extracted when about 30% of the
mix is still unfrozen. You cant see that some of the mix is still unfrozen because it looks like whipped
cream, but under a microscope you would see that it is in a semi-frozen state. This is actually the perfect
eating temperature for gelato, but it is too soft to scoop onto a cone or eat in a cup, so it needs to be hardened
down to 11C to 14C, depending on the sugar content, before it starts to get the structure you would
expect of a gelato.

At 6C, even though the gelato is at its optimum taste, it will not last long structurally because the unfrozen
part of the mixture will cause the solids to start separating from the water, causing the gelato to acquire a
sandy texture. This is why rapid freezing to either its serving temperature of about 12C or storage
temperature of at least 18C is important (for domestic storage, you dont want to go below 15C or the
gelato will be too hard for serving). The quicker this happens, the longer your gelato will keep its structure.

Be mindful that if you get your gelato from the batch freezer at 6C and then freeze it to 12C and serve,
you will only get a day before the structure of your gelato will start to show defects such as separation and
crystallisation. If you want your gelato to last longer, then you need to freeze it to 18C very quickly.

You can use a normal storage freezer (or a domestic freezer) but they will take up to 8 hours to get the gelato
to the desired 18C. This would buy you a few days of storage and a few days of serving (at around 12C).

If you have the capability of blast freezing and can achieve 6C to 18C in under 2 hours, you can store
the gelato for up to 3 weeks at 18C and then it will last a couple of days at a serving temperature of about

The prolonged life of the gelato only comes during storage at 18C and its irrelevant how long you stored it
for once you place it in your cabinet for serving at 12C. At 12C, the gelato starts to melt; the solids start
to separate from the water, reducing the life of the gelato to a few days.

I hope I have given you a basic understanding of the principles of gelato making and an insight into the main
ingredients and equipment used. As with most new skills, the best way to learn is really through trial and

Good luck! 11/11