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Try different flavors for a true gelato feast. Photo courtesy Paciugo Gelato.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

STEPHANIE ZONIS is a contributing editor.

 

 

March 2006
Last Updated April 2012

 

Product Reviews / Main Nibbles / Ice Cream & Sorbet

Gelato: Italian Ice Cream

Page 2: Gelato In America

 

This is Page 2 of a three-page article on gelato, Italian ice cream.  Click on the black links below to visit other pages.

 

Domestic Gelato ~ Italian-Style Ice Cream

There are many large ice cream corporations in the U.S., but very few produce truly excellent products. There are far fewer giants in the gelato world here, so if you’re lucky enough to live near a gelateria, your chances of getting gelato that’s fresh and and well-made are somewhat improved.

This is one aspect where Capogiro’s Reitano believes her products shine. She makes only 1.3 gallon batches at a time, and everything is made from scratch, including the caramelized sugar used in her Burnt Sugar flavor. She is adamant about using the best-quality ingredients she can find, although she understands this raises the price of her gelato significantly.

Reitano buys her milk from a single herd of cows that are grass-fed and hormone-free; the Amish farmer who owns the cows calls her in spring to warn her when it is onion grass season (his cattle love to munch onion grass, and that lends an off-taste to their milk). She sticks to seasonal flavors and says she really looks forward to new fruit coming in each year.

She confesses to already being nervous about the coming summer, though; if it rains too much in spring, the only raspberries she’ll use in her products will become moldy before they can ripen. Palazzolo, like Reitano, is intensely preoccupied with the quality of his ingredients; he insists on real liqueurs, actual fruits (not extracts), genuine chocolate, and the like. He has nothing but contempt for the modern-day powdered mixes that can be used to make gelato, some of which are oil- or starch-based.

 

Berries

Gelato-makers Stephanie Reitano of Philadelphia and Pete Palazzolo in Michigan both make everything from scratch. No fruit purées are purchased, although good ones are available. To ensure the very best, they make their own from scratch, selecting the best fresh fruit in season.

By tradition, gelato is produced in flavors associated with Italy, where it originated. Nocciola (hazelnut), coffee, gianduja (a divine blend of chocolate and hazelnut), fragola (strawberry), fior di latte (“flower of milk,” rather like a vanilla without the vanilla, otherwise interpreted as “cream”), and the aforementioned cioccolato are old standbys. But some of the gelati (the plural of “gelato”) made in the U.S. have a distinct American twist that emerges in flavors such as Il Laboratorio del Gelato’s Pumpkin or Maple Walnut.

The “king of flavors,” however, at least among gelato-makers who ship their products, must be Palazzolo’s. They offer more than 500 flavors of gelato, including Sundried Cranberry, Dark Chocolate Raspberry Swirl, and, for the adventurous in spirit, unusual choices like their Roasted Garlic Vanilla (they also carry more traditional Italian flavors, such as tiramisu and pistachio). Palazzolo’s will even custom-make a flavor for you, if you can’t find one you fancy in their roster.

 

Continue To Page 3: Where To Buy Great Gelato

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