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If you’re thinking about making gelato, it’s natural to ask what kind of equipment you’ll need. The good news is that most of what you need is typically found in a well-equipped kitchen.
The one specialized piece of equipment you’ll need is a machine to actually freeze the gelato. The technical term is a batch freezer because it freezes in batches. In everyday language, it’s the gelato machine or the ice-cream machine. Remember those old-style hand-crank ice cream churns. They’re batch freezers, too. This brings up an interesting point. If you’re making gelato at home, there is no difference in the batch freezer used for ice cream and gelato.
For commercial production, gelato batch freezers and ice cream batch freezers are different, or at least they have different settings and, possibly, different dashers. That is because, at large scale, the dasher turns more quickly when freezing ice cream than gelato. Often, more air is incorporated into ice cream which often requires a different configuration of dasher. Just think about how different styles of fan blades blow more or less air. The same is true with how a dasher incorporates air into the mix as it freezes.
That ice cream maker in the back of your cabinet, the one with the cylinder that you put into the freezer, will make very good gelato. In fact, I used such a machine when I first started making gelato decades ago. It’s now sitting in the back of my cabinet! Sure, you can go more high end and get a machine with built in refrigeration. If you really get into gelato you might consider this but for your first attempts something like the Cuisinart ICE-21P1 for less than $70 is a great place to start.
Other equipment you’ll need includes:
1. A digital scale that weighs in 1-gram increments (up to about 8 kilograms).
2. A digital scale that weighs in 0.01-gram increments (up to about 200 grams).
3. A thermometer, preferably a digital one.
4. An immersion (stick) blender.
5. A whisk.
6. A silicone spatula.
7. A heavy-bottomed stainless-steel pot that will hold about 4 liters (4.4 quarts).
8. Small containers and bowls for weighing out ingredients.
9. A freezer-safe container for the finished gelato.
10. A freezer or freezing compartment in a refrigerator-freezer.
As you can see, it’s not a long list and the items you might not have, like scales, can be had at very reasonable prices.
If you’re interested in making gelato, getting the necessary equipment should not be an obstacle.
For commercial gelato equipment, the list is slightly different but the largest part of the difference comes down to the capacity of the equipment. More detailed information on gelato-making equipment for home and commercial use can be found in my book, Mastering Artisan Italian Gelato available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.