Friday, November 28, 2008

Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24: Behind the Scenes -- The Making of Artisan Gelato

Gelato and Sorbetto
VIVO! Gelato
The Machine
Holiday Flavors
The Production
Mounding "Christmas Cake"
Mounding "Peppermint Chocolate"
Finished Product
"Christmas Cake" Gelato Cake
Last Shot
VIVO! Gelato contact information

In our part of the world, autumn can be a somber time of year.

Most days, we wake up to grey skies, drive to work amidst the "morning fog," and come home in the dark. It rains or it drizzles and rains and drizzles and the damp air clings to one's clothes, seeming to burrow through to the skin or even, when the temperature so drops, through to the bone.

We do not get the reds, the oranges, the ochres of changing foliage around here: what we do get are the deep serious greens of pine trees and other evergreens. There's a certain beauty to all this sobriety and I find the season quite calming.

However, some people might find the autumns and winters here gloomy, which is why we thought a visit to a happy-making place is in order.


What could be better than looking at this display of beautiful colours and tasting the vibrant flavours within?

peanut butter cup gelato (chocolate & peanut butter)

Love those swirly patterns!

But we aren't content merely to taste the available flavours of gelato and sorbetto they have today. No, no. We bring you a behind-the-scenes look at making gelato at a local gelateria in Vancouver.

But first, we have to learn about gelato and sorbetto.

What is gelato?
What is sorbetto?

For those unfamiliar with gelato and sorbetto, VIVO! Gelato explains the difference.

Simply put, Gelato and Sorbetto are Italian-style ice cream.

Traditionally, gelato is made with only milk, instead of milk and cream as per the standard for ice cream. For the sorbettos, it's all non-dairy.

swirly cinnamon gelato

Less fat
Because gelato is made only with milk (instead of milk and cream), the butterfat in gelato is considerably lower than standard or premium ice creams. Depending on the flavour, the butterfat in gelato is around 4% to 10%, compared to 15% to 18% in regular ice cream and up to 24% to 28% in premium ice creams.

This is a surprise to hear because gelato always seems to feel richer on the mouth than regular ice cream. People thus assume that gelato contains so much more fat than regular ice cream.

Why is this so?

The answer is air.

Or lack thereof, for traditional-style, artisan gelato and sorbetto.

swirly guava sorbetto

Commercial ice cream contains a lot of air. For example, if one lets a tub of ice cream sit out on the counter and melt, the next day one will probably find that the ice cream has shrunk to only about half of its original volume. Most commercial creameries use big, humongous machinery to make ice cream and these machines are fast, creating and whipping a lot of air into the ice cream.

Artisan gelato, on the other hand, has less or little air. The gelato-making process is slower. Slow is good, because slow means a better product, much denser and much smoother. Hence, gelato tastes so much more flavourful and richer, even with considerably less fat, because we do not get all that air to dilute all the flavour.

VIVO! Gelato

gelato display at VIVO! Gelato

Now it's time for a field trip.
(Field trip!)

behind the counter

The venue:
VIVO! Gelato, a local gelateria here in Vancouver.

left: illy coffee for sale (and served)
right: very comfy seating

We bring you a behind-the-scenes look at making gelato. Coming up, two new holiday flavors.

The Machine

This is how the magic is possible.

It is pictured here not quite fully-assembled. There are two chambers. The smaller top one is the pasteurizer. The mixture goes in here and gets heated. After that, a lever is pulled and the heated mixture flows down to the larger second chamber, where it is then churned and cooled/frozen. When the liquid mixture has become gelato, a little "door" is opened and the gelato exits here and is mounded into pans.

Holiday Flavors

What flavors of gelato are going to come out of the machine this day at VIVO?

Christmas Cake
Creamy, custardy gelato studded with dried fruits (kiwi, pineapple, strawberry, cranberries, papaya, mango, ...) and nuts.

Peppermint Chocolate
Chocolate gelato with bursts of peppermint candy cane.

Let's get to work!

The Production

That's a lot of milk. As said, milk and no cream.

Whisking milk to make the base for Christmas Cake flavor.

Chocolate gelato mix waiting to go into the machine.

Gelato mixture being poured into the top chamber of the machine.

We had to wait a little bit for the top chamber to heat the mixture to the appropriate temperature. Then, the lever was pulled and the heated mixture flowed into the second chamber.

Mixture flowing from the top chamber to the bottom chamber.

Now for the exciting part: the mounding!

Mounding "Christmas Cake" Flavor

We had a tripod set up to take these photos.
(Thanks, gong1, for lending us the tripod!)

A note: the mounding of gelato was very ultra-, über-FAST! Hence, we have all these "action" shots (a nicer way to say "blurry" shots). We had to ask for a "posed" shot once in a while. ;)

Here is how the mounding goes:

2 pans are mounded at a time. The mixed fruits and nuts are standing by, ready for mixing in.

As the gelato comes out of the little "door", a spatula is "scraped across" the opening to obtain that gelato mound. That mound is placed in the pans.

left: The little "door" is closed so the fruits and nuts can be sprinkled onto the gelato.
right: Then, they are mixed well with the gelato.

Then, more mounds of gelato are placed in the pan.

left: More fruits/nuts go on the gelato.
right: Fruits/nuts mixed in with the gelato.

More gelato is mounded into the pan.

Repeat, repeat, repeat.

The final layer.

More sprinkling or decorating with the fruits and nuts finishes it!

Mounding "Peppermint Chocolate" Flavor

This is more of the same, except with crushed candy canes as the "mix-in." Mound gelato into pans, add crushed candy canes...

...and mix together. After mixing, add more crushed candy canes...

...and mound more gelato into pans. Add mix-in...

...and so on and so forth.


Live-action Mounding
Check out that live-action mounding once again (top of page).

Finished Product

Here they are, Christmas Cake Gelato and Peppermint Chocolate Gelato!

"Christmas Cake" Gelato Cake
For fun, an actual "Christmas Cake" was created using the Christmas cake flavor. Gelato cakes at VIVO! are usually round (with the occasional heart shape). This time, a log was created.

Christmas cake gelato was dolloped onto a sheet of parchement paper and more fruits and nuts were added. It was rolled up and placed in the freezer to harden.

The hardened log was placed on a cake board and a layer of more gelato was smoothed onto it. Then, it was studded with more fruits and nuts.

(You can get your own Christmas cake or any other cake by ordering from VIVO! Gelato directly. Please do not email us about any orders or such.)

Last Shot
Before we finished our "photo shoot", we stole a shot of this cake that was being finished for an order. Whoever Avery is, she's one lucky girl.

This post is our participatory entry to the November edition of Foodbuzz's 24 Meals, 24 Hours, 24 Blogs event, a worldwide live event celebrating the diversity of the food blogosphere.

The field trip is a change of pace for our blog. It wasn't too busy at VIVO! Gelato when we held the photo shoot. Understandable, I guess, as the weather was miserable. But, we eat gelato whatever the weather. Gelato is dessert, after all!

Thank you to Foodbuzz and VIVO! Gelato for making this post possible.


All photographs taken at the Kerrisdale location of VIVO! Gelato.

VIVO! Gelato website
VIVO! Gelato Cakes, a sampling: page 1, page 2, page 3

VIVO! Gelato (Kerrisdale)
5395 West Boulevard
Vancouver, BC Canada

VIVO! Gelato (Oakridge)
Oakridge Centre
650 West 41st Avenue
Vancouver, BC Canada


[eatingclub] vancouver 24, 24, 24 posts:
November 24, 24, 24
Behind the Scenes -- The Making of Artisan Gelato

December 24, 24, 24
A Starry, Starry Night in Vancouver -- Evoking the Philippine Christmas Spirit

February 24, 24, 24
Iron Chef -- Battle of the Recipes (Part 1, The Battle)
Iron Chef -- Battle of the Recipes (Part 2, Tasting and Judging)

Enjoyed this post? Why not subscribe to [eatingclub] vancouver? Subscribe via reader. Or, subscribe via email. Thanks!

Other November Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24 posts:
Presidential Sweet: A Tour of Presidential Holiday Desserts

No Recipes
A West Asian Thanksgiving

All Appetite for China
A Peking Duck Thanksgiving

Mike's Table
A Southern Inspired Thanksgiving

Wandering Chopsticks
Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner with an Asian Fusion Twist

Indochine Kitchen
Thanksgiving in the Tropics


  1. You are tempting me in hot humid Singapore :O

  2. molto magnifico! i've always wanted a gelatto machine! =) awesome post guys! thanks!

  3. That was so much fun, thanks for the field trip. You know I just had gelato for the first time this year

  4. whoa! this post must've taken forever to write. beautiful pics. i love, love love gelato and the holiday-themed types would usually cheese me out but those look beautiful and delicious too. nice 24,24,24 entry!

  5. Great post! I am drooling now....! Can't resist the temptation to grab one now. Slurp!!

  6. What a fun and educational experience! I should like to ask to get behind the scenes at our ice cream maker.

    Hey, you've been tagged! Come visit our site for details.

  7. gawd...I want my tummy...

  8. What a wonderful peek into a gelateria! Thanks for sharing this delicious field trip with us! :)

  9. Waaaait a minute. Back up-- is that Peanut Butter Cup Gelato I read? I think I've died and gone to heaven! Thank you for the tour-- they look so beautifully silky and not a bubble of air to be seen!

  10. Ah, gelato! I first had it in Venice and have been hooked ever since. What a fun field trip idea!

    FYI: I'll definitely be linking to your 24, 24, 24 blog post on my blog tomorrow!

  11. Wow! I'm heading off to Kerrisdale for the Xmas cake gelato!

  12. A good gelato shop is as important as finding a good butcher or fish monger...they are a rare find.

    I could eat ice cream like this all year 'round and I tip my hat to you both for a great report and 24 entry.

  13. Ooo, now that is my kind of field trip. That looks like a fun behind the scenes--I hope you got your fair share of samples. ;-) I wish I had a gelateria around me--when I took a trip to Italy, my wife and I had gelato everyday.

  14. Congrats on getting 24ed! Love the animation. That gelato looks incredible, makes me want one of those machines in my apartment:-D

  15. Oh, I love gelato! My homemade ice cream has no air, but is almost too rich. I should try my hand at gelato. That peppermint stick looks amazing.

  16. What a hard work behind the post! Congrats on being one of the 24! You did a fantastic informative job here... not to mention the delicious pictures :D

    A gelato is always welcome!!!

  17. Thanks for the wonderful field trip photos. The guava gelato is very interesting, I'd like to sample that.:)

  18. Oh ! superb, and I am drooling here ..great to read all about gelato/sorbato...Thanks for sharing..

    Hugs and smiles

  19. i've never had gelato =( it looks so incredibly good!!

  20. Okay, even though my browser will only load half the photos I am still drooling. What I wouldn't give for some nice creamy gelato right now...

  21. woah! gelato is what I need now for the hot weather here ;p congrats on your fb 24 feature :D


  22. Thanks everybody! And thanks to Foodbuzz!

    Haha, imagine having that big thing in your kitchen! =D

    We Are Never Full:
    There were so many photos to go through!

    Thanks for the tag! Our post will be coming up soon.

    Oh yeah! Peanut Butter Cup it is! There's also a plain Hazelnut, Chocolate Hazelnut, and Hazelnut Espresso, if nutty is your thing. ;)

    Hugging the Coast:
    Thanks so much for the link!

    Marc @ NoRecipes:
    Haha... At first the photos for the animation were very clear, but then I looked at the file size. Ack! So optimization happened.

    Yes, just put the machine in a corner somewhere. LOL.

    Oh no! But you will. =)

    Haha... sorry... this post *is* a bit image-intensive!

  23. Finally got a chance to read this post. I loved the behind-the-scenes look. I had no idea what was all involved. Extra whipping! :)

  24. lol! i could fill a 1990s condo with just kitchen gadgets i want! not counting tanks of liquid nitrogen, the anti-griddle, and other toys that the molecular gastronomists are playing with! = )

  25. What a fabulous entry for 24 24 24! Great photos, too.

  26. Wandering Chopsticks:
    I think there's even more fun stuff we didn't catch on camera. =)

    I would be curious as to how many people have any melocular gastronomy tools and ingredients now...

    Thanks! =)

  27. you are making me so hungry!! I LOVE LOVE gelato!! Thanks for sharing all the behind the scenes about it! For my 24 24 24 celebration we had a sushi night featuring non traditional flavors like BBQ sauce, bacon, and pesto :) So much fun!

  28. I *love* gelato and have wondered how it was made. Thanks!

  29. OK, now I want one of those machines! Really, how would they go in a domestic kitchen? AWESOME...beautiful photos and mouthwatering gelato pics...please a recipe???

  30. Outstanding job! What an investment in time for you. Great photos, great information, and oh jeez, do I want gelato right now.

  31. stephchows:
    Thanks for the visit! We also have our more recent 24 24 24 post: A FEAST(!) for New Year's Eve. =) Congrats on being a 24, 24, 24-er!

    Sid Khullar:
    Thanks for the visit! =)

    Haha... I think maybe your power would go out if you install that big machins. ;)

    Thank you. Gelato ANYTIME is good. =)


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