In Italian, gelato literally means “frozen.” The basis of gelato recipes is essentially more milk and less cream. Generally, the cheapest and lowest quailty ice cream is half air, or 100% overrun.
Since gelato has more milk and less cream, naturally it makes for a rich and creamy treat. The overrun in gelato is much lower, around 20-25%. Which is why gelato is denser. Gelato is kept and served from a forced-air freezer to maintain its semi-frozen consistency. Ice cream, on the other hand, is kept and served from a regular freezer. Because of this, most artificial flavourings are done away with. Instead real natural ingredients like nuts, chocolate, fruits, liqueurs are used – all of which will not be overwhelmed by cream. That’s why it’s customary for a good-quality gelato to have a heightened, purer flavour.
With its density, gelato is served between 10 to 15 degrees higher than ice cream, which gives it a smoother, creamier taste – that perfect point between firm but not hard, soft but not meltingly so. This consistency also makes scooping that much easier!
Gelato usually contains between 4 to 8 percent butter fat, while ice cream is usually made with cream and has a much higher fat content ranging from 10 percent to 26 percent. With gelato’s lower butter fat, it is less frozen than ice cream.