Tuesday, May 26, 2009


With ice cream season getting into high gear and our last gelato shipment of the year coming for Father's Day, I'll hand the reins over to guest blogger Tim Miller who recently made gelato with our resident ice cream maker, Josh. Here are some excerpts from his visit plus photos. Take it away, Tim.

The history of gelato dates back to the 16th century. As most stories go, it is credited to Bernardo Buontalenti, a native of Florence, who delighted the court of Caterina dei Medici with his creation. Italians are certainly credited with introducing gelato to the rest of Europe. Sicilian Francesco Procopio dei Coltelli was one of the first to sell it to the public. Summoned to Paris in 1686, he opened a café named after himself called Café Procope which quickly became one of the most celebrated haunts of literary France. In Italy meanwhile, the art of traditional gelato making was passed on from father to son, improved and perfected right up to the 20th century, when many gelato makers began to emigrate, taking their know-how to the rest of Europe.

The “mix” that Josh uses for each flavor was made prior to my arrival with fresh milk, cream and sugar. I learned that different mixes are used depending on the flavor of gelato that will be made. Fruit flavors such as strawberry are made with a mix that includes more fat since fruit is naturally fat free. Flavors like nocciola (hazelnut) and peanut butter are made with a mix that has less fat since nuts contain more fat.

I start my shift by helping label the many pint cups that will be used for selling gelato to some of the Creamery’s guests. The cups are dated on the bottom with an expiration of two months out. The Creamery also makes tubs of Gelato and “trays”. The trays are used by stores that sell Gelato from cases and are dated a month out expiration since they are exposed to higher temperatures while sitting in the cases. Josh has a spreadsheet he uses to determine how much Gelato of each flavor he needs to make today.

As the machine is churning and freezing the gelato, Josh starts breaking up pieces of burnt sugar that will be mixed in as it comes out of the machine. Josh says that he makes the burnt sugar next door at the Bakehouse. He puts a mix of sugar and water in a kettle, and cooks off the water to make burnt sugar syrup that will be blended into the mix before freezing. He also cooks sugar into dark pieces that almost look like smoked glass. This is his favorite because of its depth of flavor and because it's not too sweet. There’s almost a coffee flavor, due to the bitterness of the burnt sugar.

I soon get the opportunity to get my hands dirty scooping Gelato into the pint cups that I was labeling earlier. I start with Dulce de Leche that was made earlier. It looks SO delicious that I just want to scoop it out of the container with my hands and shovel it in my mouth!! Instead, I try to get it into the cups. Josh explains that I need to be careful to not overfill the cups and to use a paper towel if there is spillage (more on this later). After filling a sheet tray with some cups, I take them into the freezer where we rotate the old stock to the front and place the new stock behind. The freezer reminds me of that episode of “I Love Lucy” where Lucy gets stuck in a freezer and finally comes out with icicles hanging from her nose. Every time I step in, I get a little bit of panic, thinking “What if this time, I can't get out?"

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