20 December 2012

Reflecting on 12 and looking forward to 13

Posted in Blog

We thank our terrific loyal (local, regional and national) distributors...from the small independents to the big boys. We are proud to be with every one of you and appreciate all you do for us and your end-user customers.

We especially thank our direct-shipment customers, also big and small. Of course the bigger ones are the customers that instantly pop into our heads. You're the ones we've coached for years and know most intimately. You order nearly every week, are always asking for suggestions and seem to go along with our recommended pricing and service advice. In 2013, we're anxious to bring our currently smaller customers up to those levels and expectations too. Just remember, we're here because of you and for you.

To our future customers, thank you for looking at our page. If you're here because you're considering adding gelato & sorbetto to your concept, please heed our long-held advice. We became the culinary leader in gelato and sorbetto and are quickly doing the same with our expanding lines of frozen yogurt and vegan soft-serve, because we stay true to our mission of only using real, raw and uncompromised ingredients while listening to our restaurant chefs and customers needs. If we used the artificial flavorings and scientific components that the others rely on, we'd be just like everyone else...or worse, out of business. Same careful thoughts should be considered for every aspect of what you're offering your customers.

By continuously looking for ways to stay out of reach of our competition and by always focusing on how we can be better and different, we hope to be able to stay on top & welcome you to come along for the ride.

20 June 2011

Not all gelato cases are created equal

Written by Pete Palazzolo, Posted in Blog

Not all gelato cases are created equal

With many brands in the market place today and so many used cases available I must shout out to try to help. Not all gelato display cases are created equally. In fact not all display cases saying they are gelato cases are really gelato cases. I will go over what makes a gelato case a true gelato case and what should be thought of before the purchase.

A true gelato case displays the gelato in a 5lt pan that is 14"L x 6 .5"W x 5"T. This European pan size is close to our American 3rd pan but not really. If the display case is showing an American 3rd pan run! This is typical from some crafty dealers with cheap ice cream cases, usually a slide top for novelties or a normal ice cream case. This is a sad situation when we hear of this, the customer typically pays around $3,000.00 for a case that cost under id="mce_marker",000.00 but they hang a rack to hold pans. Sadly the freezer was made to display loose novelties or tubs of ice cream. The cold air plumes off of the side walls and should move around the display but with the rack in place the cold is below the pans at knee level and makes the bottom of the pans too hard to scoop while the top is melts. This customer would have been better off just buying the ice cream case the way it comes and use round tubs. In this case whether the gelato is in pans or tubs it does not matter since the display is not showing the gelato properly. The gelato is way too low in the case and typically displayed erratically.

The proper way to display gelato is at a slant so the customer can see the gelato anywhere they get a glance at the display case. To achieve the slant, a true gelato display is made like a walk in freezer with evaporator coils and fans to blow the cold air around the gelato allowing for the shelf slant. This is called a vented display. The big thing to watch out for is how well the vented display defrosts. As the air flows through the evaporator coils the humidity in the air sticks to the coils as ice. Ice is the enemy blocking the air flow making warm spots in the case. Some gelato display cases boast a patented defrost cycle with hot gas while others use an electric element to heat up and melt the ice. A few brands have to be thawed out every night and list their cases as daily merchandizers. These units take a bit more back room freezer to hold your display gelato each evening. Even the best gelato cases must be thawed out weekly.

Some beneficial features that make life easier when operating a gelato case are: *A pull down screen instead of plastic doors is nice because it allows more than one arm in the display and doors do not fall into your display when you bump into the plastic doors. *If the display has a controller with more than 4 buttons it will help when you need to adjust your temperature or do a manual defrost. If all your settings take a code of button pushing expect problems. It's nice to push a button that says set point or defrost. *A good gelato case will have an Engine that has a site glass to check for leeks with in the gas charge. This is a great tool to see if you're having a problem with a gas leak before calling a technician. *Multiple fans for pushing the cold air around, the more the better! *Drain Hose or condensate pan is an option; the drain hose is a nice option if you have a floor drain by the case so the hose can be directed to the drain. This is nice when it comes time to clean the display and drain the water, if a drip pan (condensate pan) is used its important not to allow dirty water into the pan.

Buying used is scary, just in the past few weeks we have got many calls from new gelato customers that have been swindled by a restaurant equipment dealer. Please be careful with used equipment. It's best to hold 50% of the payment to make sure the seller is being honest. It's typical in the used market to hear "as good as new" but the case is really spent and should be sold for scraps. If you are lucky enough to find a good used case hopefully you got it through your gelato supplier so you have someone on the hook when you have problems. We view it as a vested interest to keep our clients up and running because if there case is down and there not selling gelato we also are down and not selling gelato.

Proper certification for the United States is needed for all restaurant equipment. In Europe the simple is CE but our American inspectors do not except the CE stamp and are looking for NSF-7 and UL. In Italy they use the certification company ETL to certify the equipment to the American standard of NSF-7 and UL. Make sure the certification is active. Most dealers and companies from Italy will chance that you and your inspector will not be checking this and as far as they know the CE stamp is adequate but it's not. NSF-7 is the safety to have open food in the display case and the UL is for the safety of electric.

10 June 2011

The Difference Between Gelato and Ice Cream

Written by Pete Palazzolo, Posted in Blog

The Difference Between Gelato and Ice Cream

There's a lot of confusion as to the differences between ice cream and gelato, lets try to clear up some of these misconceptions. What we need to realize is that the Italian word "gelato" simply translates as "ice cream." Gelato, the original ice cream, was produced in a very crude manner, in a tub with ice and salt, stirred by hand. As this mixture froze with a slow-stirring motion, air wasn't likely to be whipped into the product.

So where did the process change?

We can trace the changes back to the American Industrial Revolution when machines were developed for the sole purpose of profit. At this time the continuous-freezer was developed. It could be set to whip up to 60% air into the frozen finished product. This is how America's Ice cream is produced today.

Most American brands of bulk ice cream and consumer-packed ice cream range from 60 to 120% overrun. (Overrun is the trade term for the amount of air whipped into the product. 100% overrun is 50% air.) While the most of the European-made machines for ice cream production haven't changed from the old-world churn style with a slow mixing speed.

Why is this important? It leads us to a discussion about dipping Loss and another difference between the two processes.

Because of its high air content, ice cream must be stored at a very cold temperature, usually around -8 degrees Fahrenheit, cold and hard, crucial to prevent the ice cream from shrinking onto itself. When the ice cream is this cold it forces the server to press down when making a scoop, and in doing so, this compresses out the air which is called, Dipping Loss.

Traditional Gelato on the other hand, should be under 20% overrun.

This low air-content and density has many benefits. Gelato can be scooped at a softer state, usually around +8 degrees Fahrenheit. The ease of scooping with little or no dipping loss makes the yield difference tremendous.

For example a 3 gallon tub of regular bulk ice cream will give you 50 4-ounce scoops, while a 2.5 gallon tub of gelato will yield 80 4-ounce scoops, almost 1 gallon more, even though the pack size is ½ gallon less.

By being so dense, gelato can achieve its creamy texture without the addition of high butterfat creams.

Let's talk about butterfat, another misconception between the two processes. The old school way of thinking, is that the higher the butterfat, the better the quality of ice cream.

This marketing technique was born when there was a new demand for a higher-quality ice cream. The pitch was to sell ice cream by the butterfat content knowing that consumers would pay up to three different price levels. Under 6% butterfat on the low end, 12 to 14% on a mid-range and 18 to 22% on the high end. Neglecting to address the air that's being whipped into the product to maximize profits!

The truth of the matter is that the creamy texture can come from taking steps to not allow air to be whipped into it. As a matter of fact the dense gelato provides a taste as creamy to the mouth at 8% butterfat as its high-air and high-butterfat cousin.

There are no guidelines on what can and can't be labeled as gelato.

Gelato should be under 20% overrun and keeping with tradition, it should be flavored from actual ingredients like strawberries or nuts, not from flavorings. As the gelato industry grows, we are seeing many misconceptions.

One is that gelato is fat-free. I find this one really silly since it is after all, frozen dairy. Why is this misconception out there? There are a few large companies selling Italian-exported gelato mixes (powdered mixes that are shelf-stable that will be reconstituted with milk.) Years ago these mixes DID contain dairy solids. Until the American Dairy Counsel lobbied to protect the American farmers by placing an unfriendly tariff on all dairy coming into America from Canada and Europe.

This led to a replacement of dairy solids with starches, vegetable oil solids and even gelatin. These companies changed their selling points to match the trends here in America boasting a fat-free ice cream.

I have even seen frozen products shipped from Italy labeled as gelato that actually contain no dairy in them at all. These oil and starch-based gelatos have a very short shelf-life, their oils and starches start to brake down in about 7-10 days. In retrospect the butterfats in the dairy-based gelato are sticky, unlike oil-solids and hold for up to 4-6 months depending on the flavor.

Again, gelato is simply ice cream...

Ice cream before the American Industrial Revolution blew it full of air and artificially flavored it. Gelato's butterfat should range from 4%-14% if it's made the Artisan way, fresh from the true raw ingredients.

On a simple flavor like vanilla, the butterfat should be the same as the content in the dairy being used. However, a flavor made with a few pounds of strawberries will draw down the finished butterfat content because of the water in the fruit, and a flavor made with mascarpone cheese would increase the finished butterfat.

So let's not focus on butterfat to be the deciding factor in your ice cream choice, instead consider the air content. Not only will you enjoy a higher yield and creamier texture, but also a longer shelf life and most importantly an ease of use.

Gelato pulled from a -10 freezer can safely sit on the counter (in a hot kitchen) for 30 minutes before having to worry about its integrity. This allows you the pastry chefs to mold it into different desserts without the fear of it melting. As far as I'm concerned as long as creativity and fresh ingredients are used, you will have wonderful gelato.


Pete Palazzolo

06 June 2011

Chicago Tribune: Nibbling Away at Soft Sales

Written by Pete Palazzolo, Posted in Blog

May 21st – 24th we had the honer to sample over 10,000 tastes to our fans and new faces at the National Restaurant Show in Chicago.  Monday we made the 1st page of the Chicago Tribune!  Many happy smiles and wonderful comments about our all natural, made to order fresh artisan gelato.