Good gelato is a great ending to an Italian meal. Authentic lemon gelato might be even better. Light, fresh, and tangy. Just what you need if the main course is something like my Italian Meatballs in Tomato Sauce (Polpette al Sugo).
With the right equipment and some secrets, you can come pretty close to the Italian experience. After much research and much trial and error, I have developed some tips for successful gelato at home. The key to this is using simple syrup giving a smoother texture. This is supplemented by the best equipment your budget allows. Please check out this discussion and tips here.
What is great about lemon gelato is I took a helpful hint from the great Italian cookbook author Marcella Hazan. She suggests boiling the lemon rind in water and sugar to extract flavor. This is a great idea, a double bonus giving the benefit of the simple syrup.
Notes on Lemon Gelato Ingredients
Look for healthy lemon peels. The lemons should be soft, but not mushy and appear to be moist. Since you are going to be boiling the lemon peel to produce the syrup you will likely want to find organic lemons. In that case, there will be blemishes but if no signs of damage, they are fine.
Cream and Milk
Most of my gelatos call for half cream, and half milk making them lighter than ice cream. Because this recipe uses both a simple syrup and a good deal of lemon juice, that mixture is too thin. Therefore, this recipe calls for 3 parts cream to 1 part milk.
Simple syrup is an addition to most of my gelatos. The reasoning is discussed in greater detail in my overview of gelato, but simply it is replacing large molecules of sugar with smaller ones making for a less icy texture. There is an extra bonus here, with boiling the zest in the syrup for a deeper flavor.
Notes on Technique
Ice Cream Maker
The choice of an ice cream maker is key to making gelato. In particular, you want a maker with a gelato setting that will more slowly churn the mixture. This ensures there is less air in the final product producing the desired texture. Please see my discussion on equipment for making gelato.
A slow churning machine, like this one, is required for gelato.
Gelato is best when enjoyed fresh. It allows for the use of fresh fruit and other ingredients. Therefore, it is not intended for long-term storage. Furthermore, I have found that completely filling multiple pint containers (as opposed to one large container) improves storage time.
Even under the best of storage, after about 3 or 4 days, the gelato will become a slight bit icier. Still tasty yes, but not quite as good of texture.
Visit a gelateria in Italy and you will notice the servers, called “gelatai” Italian, using paddles to constantly move the gelato, stirring and smoothing — almost zen-like. It breaks down the ice crystals giving a smoother tastier gelato.
If you have a gelato paddle – great, a strong spatula or ice cream scoop – fine, or even a large spoon will do. Do your version of the gelatai performance before serving; you will find it helps smooth your gelato.
- 1 1/2 cup cream
- 1/2 cup milk
- Peel of 2 lemons
- 2/3 cups lemon juice (the juice of about 6 or 7 medium size lemons)
- 1/2 cup sugar (for syrup)
- 1/2 cup water (for syrup)
- 2/3 cup sugar
- Put the 1/2 cup sugar, water, and the lemon peel in a saucepan and bring to a slow simmer. Simmer for about 3 minutes. Let cool to room temperature at least. If time allows, refrigerate to completely cool.
- When ready, add all ingredients (including the additional 2/3 cups sugar) to the mixer and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions.
- The gelato will be soft. Spoon it into airtight containers and freeze for at least 3 hours before serving. Overnight is best.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 114Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 34mgSodium: 17mgCarbohydrates: 4gFiber: 0gSugar: 2gProtein: 1g
Calculated Nutrition is estimated.