Gelato is a delicious type of Ice cream that originated in Italy. It is sweet and indulgent and is perfect for a hot summer day.
But is gelato suitable for vegans? Are there any vegan alternatives to gelato? Keep reading to find out everything you need to know.
What Is Gelato?
Gelato is an Italian frozen dessert. It can be translated into ‘ice cream’, but gelato actually has more milk and cream in it than normal ice cream.
This makes it even more indulgent and delicious. Gelato comes in all sorts of different flavors and is a very popular sweet treat in lots of countries.
How Is Gelato Different From Ice Cream?
There are three main differences between gelato and ice cream:
- Fat – The higher proportion of milk and cream in gelato compared to ice cream gives it a more indulgent and creamy flavor.
- Consistency – Gelato is also mixed at a slower pace than ice cream. This makes it more thick and silky rather than light and fluffy.
- Temperature – Gelato is served at a slightly higher temperature than ice cream. This makes it softer and easier to eat. It is also served with a spade rather than a scoop. If you have ever had gelato from a street vendor you may have seen them softening and shaping the gelato with the spade before they serve it to you.
Is Gelato Vegan?
Gelato is a type of set custard that is made with large quantities of milk and cream. This means that it is not suitable for vegans.
The most traditional types of gelato are also made with egg yolks which makes it rich and silky. This is also unsuitable for vegans.
Gelato from Northern Italy tends to be made with egg yolks whereas gelato from the Southern regions often leaves them out. Many people think that gelato contains gelatin because of its name, but this is not the case.
How Is Gelato Made?
Authentic Italian gelato is made with the following process:
- Custard – First, you make a custard. This is made with milk, cream, sugar, and egg yolks. Some recipes leave out egg yolks and use cornstarch as a thickening agent.
- Flavor – Once the custard has been made you can flavor it with whatever you want. For a simple vanilla gelato, add vanilla pod seeds or vanilla essence. You could add nuts, fruit, or whatever else you want to use to flavor your gelato.
- Churn – As the custard cools, it is churned. This creates the thick, creamy consistency of the gelato. The custard is cooled and then frozen during the churning process.
Some of the most traditional flavors for gelato are:
- Cream (this is essentially plain gelato that tastes like custard)
- Fior-di-latte (this is an extra sweet creamy custard flavor)
- Stracciatella (fior-di-latte with chocolate chips)
There are plenty of modern flavors that are very popular, like salted caramel, strawberry, white chocolate and many more.
Can Gelato Be Vegan?
Some gelato vendors offer a sorbet that is similar to gelato, but less creamy. It tends to come in fruity flavors. It is called sorbetto, and it is churned slowly, just like gelato.
Fruit juices are used instead of milk and cream. It will be thicker than a standard sorbet. However, this isn’t really proper gelato.
It is possible to make a vegan version of gelato. It won’t be exactly the same as traditional gelato, but it will be pretty close in flavor and texture and is a good alternative for vegans.
The trick to making vegan gelato is to find a dairy-free alternative to milk and cream that has a high-fat content. This will replicate the rich, indulgent, and creamy textures and flavors of authentic gelato.
The best thing to use is coconut milk and coconut cream. If you are making coconut-flavored gelato then make sure the coconut milk and cream contains at least 60% coconut to intensify the flavor. You can also use these ingredients as a base and add whatever flavors you fancy to the gelato.
It is easier to find vegan ice cream in a store than vegan gelato. This is because ice cream has a lower fat content, so it is easier to make with dairy-free milk and plant-based products.
Gelato is a traditional frozen Italian dessert. It is not vegan as it contains a lot of milk and cream, and some recipes also contain egg yolks. However, it is possible to make your own vegan gelato using coconut milk and coconut cream.