Ingredients for artisanal gelato and pastry
Ingredients for artisanal gelato (traditional italian gelato)
These ingredients appeared in the 1950s to meet a few practical needs related to the production of artisanal ice cream in ice cream parlours: these included the simplification of the measurements and mixing the ingredients, the need to preserve the raw materials, their function as binders, a reduction in production times, hygiene guarantees.
The first products that appeared on the market to be used as stabilisers – instead of eggs and sugar – were carob and guar seed flour and gelatine and pectin, natural products with thickening and stabilizing properties. As they didn’t provide anything from an organoleptic point of view, the mixture of these ingredients was defined as a Neutral Stabiliser. Unlike egg and sugar, these Neutral Stabilisers guaranteed better results. Due to a few somewhat problematic aspects of using Neutral Stabilisers (the need for correct and extremely precise measurements), Bases were introduced, which made it easier to measure out the Neutral Stabilisers and other necessary ingredients. The first Bases contained a mixture of stabilisers and emulsifiers, as well as other functional ingredients to ensure a well-balanced final product. Today there is a wide and diversified range of bases, and this allows artisan ice cream makers to meet the numerous demands that change according to consumer tastes and the seasons. They range from bases for making dairy ice creams to those for fruit ice creams; some make the ice cream creamier and softer, others lighter and more delicate. Regardless of the recipe ice cream makers decide to use, or whether they use primary materials or resort completely or partially to the use of semi-finished products, when making artisan ice cream it is essential to use stabilisers, thickeners and emulsifiers, which have a decisive effect on the microstructure of the ice cream and contribute to the physicochemical stability of the finished product. It is possible to make ice cream without stabilisers, thickeners and emulsifiers, but its structure will never be of the same quality as an ice cream made with the correct measurements of all the necessary ingredients.
Ingredients for artisanal gelato: what they are
Today artisans have a wide range of ingredients to choose from when producing artisan gelato, based on their needs and the tastes of their customers. They use common ingredients like milk, sugars, fruit, water, cream, eggs and powdered milk, while other ingredients like neutral stabilisers, bases and pastes are less known by the consumer because they are produced specifically for gelato, and are intended for professional producers of quality gelato. Bases and pastes can be made by the artisans themselves, or purchased from companies that produce specialised ingredients, as is the case in many other food sectors. The ingredients can be classified as follows, according to the function that each of them is intended to perform, and in relation to the different methods used to make the gelato.
Powdered ingredients for base mixes
This category includes all the blends of raw materials in powder form that have the function of stabilizing and integrating the gelato base.
They can be divided into:
1) Neutral Stabilisers: a mixture of ingredients with a stabilizing and emulsifying function. This category includes thickeners such as carob seed flour, guar gum and tara gum and emulsifiers like lecithin and monodiglycerides of fatty acids.
2) Gelato Bases: powder mix bases for gelato vary according to the measurements and ingredients that are present. Generally, they consist of a core of stabilisers and emulsifiers and other ingredients that have the function of improving the quality of the gelato, such as milk powder, milk proteins, sugars and derivatives, fibre and plant-based proteins.
Characterising ingredients for base mixes
These preparations are typical in Italian tradition and are used to flavour gelato and give its individual flavour. They can be divided into:
1) Characterising ingredients in powder form: these can be added to the bases, before or after pasteurisation, in varying amounts depending on the strength of the flavour required for the finished product (gelato). This category includes, for example: preparations made with cacao powder, freeze-dried coffee, powdered liquorice, powdered yogurt, cheeses.
2) Characterising ingredients in paste form: these can be added to the bases before or after pasteurisation, in varying amounts depending on the strength of the flavour required for the gelato. They can be divided into three main categories, based on their composition: fatty pastes, for example: hazelnut, pistachio, almond, gianduja and chocolate pastes; sugary pastes, made with sugary syrups, combined with, for example, eggs, coffee, mascarpone, concentrated milk, egg yolk, wines and other alcoholic substances, etc.; fruit pastes: made of fruit and sugars, citric acid, pectin, etc. They are used to supplement and stabilise the taste of the fresh fruit in gelato.
Complete preparations in powder, paste or liquid form (with basic ingredients, structuring products and characterising ingredients) make it possible to produce creamy and fruit gelato quickly, with no additional ingredients other than water and/or milk, according to the respective recipes. These products are mainly used abroad, in countries where it is difficult to find fresh milk and cream. The recipe can also be integrated with other additional ingredients.
Ingredients for variegates and decoration
These preparations are used to garnish gelato and fine bakery wares and pastry products. They can be based on sugary syrups or honey, chocolate or cacao, coffee or infusions, dried fruit, fruit and vegetable preserves or preparations, fruit juices and pulp, candied or syruped fruit, alcoholic products, possibly integrated with food colourings and flavourings.