Things You Didn’t Know About Gelato

There’s a big difference between gelato and ice cream

Photo Modified: Flickr/ Derek Key/ CC4.0

Gelato and ice cream may have similarities, but they're very different.

Technically, gelato is the Italian word for ice cream. Sounds simple enough, right? Wrong. There is a lot more to gelato than what Google Translate will lead you to believe. Gelato has a long and storied history and has a few hidden secrets that you’ll be surprised to learn.

First, its origins have to do with good healthy competition. The famed Medici family in Florence sponsored a contest searching for the greatest frozen dessert in all the land. A chicken farmer named Ruggeri loved to cook in his spare time and thought he’d throw his hat into the ring. Ruggeri’s tasty frozen dessert was made from sweet fruit juice and ice (similar to today’s sorbet) and impressed the Medicis so much, he won the coveted award. Not one to let go of something good, Catherine de Medici took Ruggeri with her to France so that she could indulge in the treat as much as she wanted. He prepared the dessert at her wedding to the future King of France and gelato went international. Well, kind of.

Gelato really hit the big time when it first landed in the Americas in 1770. A dessert dreamer named Giovanni Basiolo brought two kinds of gelato to New York City: a fruit and water based one (sorbetto) and a milk, sugar and flavored one known as gelato.

If you ask an Italian, they’ll tell you that gelato is not ice cream. Ice cream is made with full fat cream; gelato is not. Since gelato is made with whole milk, it contains less fat than ice cream. Also, most gelato uses less (if any) egg yolks, while ice cream is full of them. Inspired by the traditional Italian gelato recipe and technique, Turkey Hill All Natural Gelato is as close as you’ll get to authentic Italian gelato without leaving your supermarket. It’s made with simple, natural ingredients like milk, cream, and sugar.

Gelato also has less air than ice cream. Yes, both are churned frozen desserts, but gelato is churned slower, so that less air is whipped into it. The result is a super flavorful and creamy treat that is less dense than ice cream. The flavor of gelato can also be more intense because gelato has less air. If you’ve ever made whipped cream by hand and tasted it side by side with whipped cream made with an electric mixer, you know the difference that a slower churn can make. When you grab a container of Turkey Hill All Natural Gelato, you'll be able to taste the freshness and purity of all the slow churned flavors in your gelato.

Another fun fact? Gelato is served warmer than ice cream. Ice cream is best served at around 10 degrees Fahrenheit. Any warmer and it melts into soup. Any colder and it’s basically frozen. Since there is less air and fat in gelato than in ice cream, it benefits from a warmer temperature, around 25 degrees.


We’ve got another fun fact and tip for you. When you’re ready to indulge in Turkey Hill All Natural Gelato, take it out of the freezer about 5 minutes before scooping it. Because Turkey Hill Gelato is all-natural, allowing it a few extra minutes out of the freezer will ensure a smoother scoop. So it may feel like a lifetime, but those five minutes will be well worth it. To keep the product fresh, place the container of gelato back in the freezer immediately after scooping.