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You Ask, I Answer: Gelato

Are gelato (pictured, right) and ice cream the same thing with a different name?

What about in terms of calories?

– Sara Stevens
(city withheld), FL

Although gelato is quickly becoming popular in the United States, it is what many countries (such Argentina) sell in their “ice cream” parlors (“true” ice cream is only available in pints at supermarkets)!

The main differences between the two is that what is known as “ice cream” in the United States has a higher milk fat percentage and more air than gelato.

Also, gelato usually does not contain cream as an ingredient.

I am partial to gelato’s soft texture and sharp flavors (the lack of air makes for a denser product), since it is what I grew up with in Argentina.

As far as calories are concerned, this is a tough call due to the multitude of ice cream and gelato flavors out there.

The differences are by no means astronomical, though — gelato is still made with whole milk and sugar.

Rather than get hung up on numbers, though, enjoy whichever of the two you like best in a small size.

FYI: gelato is easier to keep caloric tabs on, since, apart from the occasional almond, it does not contain mix-ins like brownie bits, fudge-covered cookie pieces, or chocolate candies — all of which can add an additional 100 or 150 calories to a scoop of ice cream!

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One Comment

  1. Alicia said on April 6th, 2010

    So this topic is near and dear to my heart since I am a dietitian and my husband owns a cafe that makes gelato from scratch :)

    In general, gelato is usually lower in fat and somewhat lower in calories, although like you said, not astronomically. Fruit-flavored water-based gelatos (sorbets) are very low fat, but tend to be higher in sugar.

    What I like about gelato is that the way it is produced is different than ice cream. Not as much air is incorporated during the freezing, and it is not frozen as deeply as ice cream is (meaning it’s at a slightly higher temperature). Both of those things make gelato have a creamy consistency and very rich taste. That means that it’s easier to be satisfied with a smaller portion size. In fact, you’ll find these “tiny” portions in most gelato shops in the US. Our largest size we sell is probably not much larger than Coldstone’s small, and even that would be way too much for me. That 1/2 cup serving is plenty satisfying when I’m eating gelato, but I find it hard to limit myself to such a small portion when it’s ice cream.

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