How do they make low-fat gelato at Italian ice-creameries?
Most home ice-cream recipes are relatively high in fat, because this makes it easier to set the ice-cream to a nice texture. If you use an ice-cream machine it also works better with a high-fat mixture. If you make ice-cream by hand, the lower the fat content, the more you need to take the mix out of the freezer as it sets, and give it a thorough beating to stop it setting solid.
There are two things you need to do to get the right texture: aerate the mix, and prevent icicles forming.
Here (in a change of pace) I present a relatively easy technique for making low-fat gelato, with a new wonder tool I discovered, which you can buy at most kitchen stores.
To start, you need some fruit. Frozen fruit works really well. As illustrated here, I'm using about 500g (about a pound for the neolithics) of freshly hulled strawberries. Frozen actually works better; I should probably have put them in the freezer a few hours for the best result.
Next step: add sugar. My approximate measure is to about half the height of the fruit. You can judge this to taste. Too little, and the mixture is likely to set too hard. But you can regulate that by adjusting the milk content.
Next, add milk. I add slightly less than covers the fruit. You need to judge this as it can vary for fruits. Too much, and it sets too hard. Too little, and you have something more like a sorbet; maybe not such a bad thing. I have a little too much in this mix. What kind of milk? As pictured here, I am using low-fat soy. Just about anything vaguely like milk works. I've used soy, oat and rice milk, with equally good results.
At this point, I start using the wonder new tool: a potato masher. This turns out to be a good combination of the features you need. It can crush fruit, it can aerate the mix, and it can mix in the sugar. If you are starting with frozen fruit, it will be hard going at first, until the coolth transfers to the milk, and the fruit thaws slightly. Once that happens, start mashing more vigorously. Your aim is to break up the fruit, while mixing the sugar in thoroughly and adding enough air to soften the overall texture. Do this right, and it will set reasonably soft without stirring during the freezing stage.
In this case, I have slightly too much milk in the mix, and need to do a bit of stirring in the freezing phase. In the end, I lost patience and let it freeze hard. It was still not too bad; to serve, I had to shave it off rather than take scoopfuls.
Even with the sort of mistakes you can make, you still end up with a result that tastes a lot better than factory ice-cream and you know exactly what went into it.
Some may say there is a bit of justice in the fact that I had to do a bit of stirring. Read the rest of my blog to see for yourself.
If you use a plant-based milk, you can make a pretty good totally vegan dessert. Who says only carnivores have fun?
One warning: since you are using uncooked ingredients, you should not keep this gelato as long as you would keep a factory frozen product. Freezing doesn't kill most microbes; it does however slow their growth. So if there are some bad bugs in the original fruit (which I hope you remembered to wash), freezing won't kill them. But I've never had to keep one of these much longer than I'd have kept the fruit in the refrigerator, so I have not had a problem with proliferation of frozen microbes.