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Frozen yogurt, ice cream, and gelato. They can all be described as cold, creamy, and delicious, but what are the differences between these treats? From the creation, to the ingredients, to health and flavor, how much do you really know about your favorite summer desserts?
Well, this is the inside scoop!
The Creation Process
Here is where the differences begin. How each treat is made impacts the flavor, texture, and healthiness of the dessert. We can start by looking into the history, ingredients, and the processes underwent.
While regular yogurt has been around for thousands of years, frozen yogurt was introduced in the early 1970s. Starting out, it was scooped like ice cream, then shaped like popsicles. A great evolution of frozen yogurt has occurred in the past few decades. While invented fairly recently, frozen yogurt has quickly become a household staple for millions. Now there are thousands of “fro-yo” shops all over the country!
Frozen yogurt does not generally use cream because it gets its dairy from cultured milk. Cultured milk is created by adding live cultures into pasteurized milk. As a result, frozen yogurt contains bacteria, which results in its signature tart flavor. But no worries, these are actually good bacteria that can have very positive health benefits for the consumer!
Of course, different frozen yogurts are made differently. The freezing process in some frozen yogurts limits the probiotic effect. And if you have a lactose allergy, some frozen yogurts do not use milk at all! If you are looking for different frozen yogurts to satisfy dietary restrictions, you’re in the right place. Here at 16 Handles, we do our best to cater to your needs with a large variety of different flavor profiles and healthy ingredients! Learn more about our offerings. We have frozen yogurts that are vegan, sugar-free, gluten-free, fat-free, you name it!
Ice cream has a very far-reaching history, as some say it was introduced as early as the second century B.C. It was introduced to America in the mid-1700s, but it was considered an exotic delicacy for the elite even in the 1800s. Over time, however, it became more accessible to the masses. Since then, ice cream has become a great American staple as it pops up through every generation. From ice cream sodas, to the creation of sundaes, to ice cream parlours, ice cream has consistently stayed near and dear to our hearts.
As you can tell by its name, ice cream is made from cream. There is actually a required minimum of 10% milkfat for ice cream to be legally sold. As a result, ice cream has a much higher fat content compared to frozen yogurt (which does not use cream at all). Ice cream consists of a combination of water, milk, cream, and sugar, all of which are rapidly churned together. This produces the creamy and lighter concoction that you love! Because of its churning process, ice cream can have an air content that ranges from 25-90%. (It will never reach 100% because that would be just air!)
Gelato is the Italian word for ice cream and is thought to have been created during the Italian Renaissance in the 14th century. It was introduced to the United States in the late 1700s. When it was brought to the US, two types were introduced: one made by mixing water with fruits (sorbetto) and the other by mixing milk with cinnamon, chocolate, or other flavors. Of course, many changes have been made to produce the gelato we have today.
Like ice cream, gelato uses cream and has a much thicker consistency compared to frozen yogurt. However, unlike ice cream, there is no required minimum of milk fat. Therefore, gelato uses substantially less cream than ice cream.
Like with ice cream, the ingredients are churned together, but more slowly to incorporate less air. As a result, gelato tends to be denser, milkier, and more flavorful, while consisting of less fat. Because of its composition, gelato has to be served at higher temperatures compared to ice cream. Otherwise, you would get a rock solid popsicle! (But who knows; that could be delicious, too!)
The Health Effects
All three treats have nutritional benefits with protein, calcium, potassium, and other vitamins. Because ingredients differ amongst various brands, there are a variety of different amounts of sugar, fats, and nutrients. Some brands of ice cream may be healthier than other brands of frozen yogurt or gelato! It really comes down to how they are made individually.
Some frozen yogurts add more sugar due to the tartness of the flavor. However, some still have sugar-free options or add other flavorings to mask the flavor. Some frozen yogurts simply fully embrace the tartness. Because frozen yogurts sometimes have probiotic effects and good bacteria, there may be more health benefits compared to other frozen treats. Frozen yogurt with active bacteria can improve digestive health, lower cholesterol, boost immune system health, as well as freshen breath.
Because ice creams have a 10% milkfat minimum, wiggle room for fat content is limited. However, low-fat ice creams do exist! Ice cream sometimes contains less sugar than frozen yogurt, but it depends on the brand and type of ice cream.
Gelato sometimes contains less fat per serving, but serving sizes will seem smaller because the product contains less air. The density of gelato compacts it, which could double its calories per cup, but become equivalent or less per serving, so beware! While there may be fewer calories per serving compared to ice cream, one serving of gelato will often seem much smaller.
The Flavor Differences
Of course, it all comes down to the flavor.
Frozen yogurt has the most distinct taste out of the three. Given its signature tart flavor, many try to compensate by adding sweetness. Ice cream has a creamy and fluffy texture with a mellower flavor, while gelato is denser, with a stronger flavor.
Flavor differences are also strongly influenced by brand, so it really comes down to personal preference!
The Biggest Differences
There are many similarities between the three, but here is a brief overview of what the major differences between frozen yogurt, ice cream, and gelato are:
- Frozen yogurt does not use cream, but sometimes uses more sugar to compensate for its tart flavor.
- Some frozen yogurts contain very beneficial bacteria for numerous health benefits. Frozen yogurt can be “healthy” for you!
- Ice cream contains the most cream out of the three because of its 10% milk fat minimum.
- Ice cream has a much fluffier texture because it is 25-90% air.
- Gelato is very dense (1 cup of gelato can have double the calories of frozen yogurt or ice cream because it has less air).
- Gelato has a much lower fat content and much stronger flavor compared to ice cream.
Frozen yogurt, ice cream, and gelato are all delicious options for a cold treat! Who knew how many differences there really were? While they may look the same or sometimes even taste the same, with so many differences in the creation process and in ingredients, you are left with three distinct and yummy desserts!