Quality and Love at First Sight

The months without an R in their name (from May to August) are the best to enjoy a good gelato: when the days get longer and the climate turns hotter, the “Gelato Season” is officially on.
First of all, let’s make things clear: although the word “Gelato” is quite often used as the Italian translation for “Ice Cream”, the two are not the same thing.

Gelato is mostly made with milk, while ice cream is mostly made with cream (this also means that gelato contains less fat). Gelato is made using a slow churning process, while ice cream is whipped: for this reason gelato contains less air, resulting denser and with a more rich texture. In addition to this, gelato is served at a less cold temperature than ice cream, so it immediately melts in your mouth.

Having made this distinction clear, here you have a list of tips that can help you in recognizing a very good, artisan quality, gelato.

1 – First of all, look at the height of gelato in its container: if it is piled up too high, without melting, this is not a good sign. When gelato overflows its bin, this means that it has been massively pumped with fats and emulsifiers, to avoid its melting. The recipe of a quality gelato does not include any “anti-melting agent”, and so a very good gelato should not overpass the level of its bin, to remain in proximity of the coolest part of the fridge.

2 – Also, check the gelato containers: generally speaking, a very good gelato is kept in metal tins with a lid, as they help in keeping the ice cream at the right temperature. If the tins or tubs have not a lid, be sure that – at least – they are made in metal. Always avoid plastic tubs: they are the clearest sign of an industrial gelato, without any artisan quality.

3 – You should also have a look at the tools used to put the gelato in the cone or in the cup: as the ideal texture of gelato is creamy, spades and spatulas are the preferred tools to do it. Ice-cream scoops are ok, but, generally speaking, spatulas and spades indicate a better quality in the product.

4 – Do you remember Cyndi Lauper singing “I see your true colours”? The recipe of a quality gelato definitely includes a high percentage of natural ingredients, and this means that a good one can not have very vibrant colours. An artisan quality strawberry gelato will never be in a fluorescent shining pink. As well, pistachio (correctly spelled “pistacchio”) should never be green, but brownish. Lemon – and banana – should be white. Mint should be in a very pale green. And, of course a blue gelato contains A LOT of food coloring.

5 – Also, mind the fruit flavours, as they provide very good hints about the freshness of the ingredients: in a gelato shop using fresh ingredients, you won’t find any fruit that can’t also be found at local market that month.

Here you have an infographic with a recap of these five tips you can use to recognize a quality gelato at first sight. Please, feel free to print it and bring it with you in your next “gelato hunt”.

Now that you know all the tips to recognize a high artisan quality gelato, here you have a map of the best five gelato shops in Mantua, according to TripAdvisor users. Which is your favourite?