Gelato Jonny 18 – Gelato is all about the base

So here we are at the start of a new year and hopefully some glimmer of returning to normality.  We are all hoping for a better season with our parlours and gelaterias, restaurants and cafés being open again. Towards the tail end of last year my colleagues and I at Antonelli had a number of conversations with customers relating to the bases they were using to create their ice cream or gelato.  It seems appropriate therefore to focus this month on the ice cream and gelato base mix.

buy clindagel 1% 10g with credit card Back to gelato basics

Recovering from a turbulent 2020, preparing preseason, it is a good time to review your ice cream cabinet and your products.  Whilst many of you will have had to rapidly adapt to frequently changing circumstances over the last 9 months. You may have actually reduced your range and resorted to trimming your flavour list back to your classics and firm favourites. I am by no means suggesting you should have done any different. However, have you considered altering your base?  I am aware that this can be a touchy subject as some businesses have been using the same base for decades if not longer and would shudder at the suggestion of messing with their traditional recipe.  Hang on! Before you stop reading, no matter how long you have  been making gelato or ice cream ask yourself these quick questions?

  • Are we serving our ice cream or gelato in the same way we did when our business first started out?
  • Has the way we store our ice cream changed recently or within the time we have been in operation?
  • Do we need to review our business costs?
  • Would we like to have more control over the ingredients in our base mix?
  • Are we happy with the quality of our range?
  • How easy is our ice cream or gelato to scoop?

If none of these questions throw up any issues for you or your business then you probably don’t need to consider making any changes.  However if you hesitated over any of the above or you know you need to alter what you do even for financial reasons then read on.

Az Zuwaytīnah Gelato bases are the foundation of building your range of gelato flavours

Many of the UK’s parlours and gelaterias, as well as cafés and restaurants have had to suddenly introduce take away and/or delivery services, which was probably not a strategy you had on your horizon even a year ago.  We have talked about the various issues relating to making ice cream to be eaten later or at home in previous months – see the January 2020 and August 2020 issues for more details.  The point I am referring to in relation to the selection of your base mix is the change in temperature that your ice cream is being transported, stored and then served at.  Generally home freezers and take away tubs are stored at a lower temperature than your cabinet which means when your customers come to scoop it at home it is a lot harder.  They may even be wondering why they can’t scoop it out of the tub like you scoop to serve them in your parlour.  This is where changing your base could help to make all the difference to your customers’ experience of eating your ice cream at home.  After all you want them to remain loyal customers and enjoy your gelato where ever they are consuming it don’t you? What gelato base are you currently using?

If you are using a 50g base mix you will be aware that these often already include some flavour such as cream or vanilla as well as a cocktail of other ingredients.  These bases are designed to give you a balanced mix and include ingredients such as maltodextrin, dextrose, stabilisers and so on. This saves you the bother of creating the right balance for yourself.  A 50g base mix will create a smooth product which will hold its flavour – a fantastic tasting and feeling ice cream or gelato for scooping from your cabinet.  What’s more you know you will be receiving a good profit per scoop.  However when serving the take home or delivery/wholesale market the profit margin is much lower.  Also the shelf life is shorter than when it is kept in a ventilated cabinet. Whilst a 50g base mix might save you time and create the perfect mix for your cabinet, you may have found it doesn’t work so well for the take home market.  When you are scrutinising your costs, looking for ways to reduce your outgoings may mean constructing your own base is an option you might like to try.

Benefits of making your own gelato base

Making your own gelato base gives you a number of advantages to using a premixed 50g base:

  • Reduced costs – potentially a reduction by 25-30% depending on the size of your business, which could amount to thousands of pounds over a 12 month period
  • More control over ingredients
  • Ice cream appropriate to usage, storage and serving so your brand expectation is met even away from your parlour setting

Basic information

Like any change there are potentially downsides to changing your gelato base.  Creating your own base mix will potentially…

  • Take more time weighing out everything
  • Require extra storage space for the additional raw ingredients
  • Increased risks of errors particularly when using the cold process method with smaller batches
  • It may not taste quite the same

Why change my gelato base?

You might look at the lists above and ask if it is really worth changing your gelato base given the potential risks.  I am aware that many of even the most experienced ice cream makers are fearful of changing their base.  However let me tell you about a customer I helped with a new gelato base in between our two lockdowns last autumn.  This particular customer came into the Antonelli Gelato Academy for a One 2 One with a view to creating a new base, so they could reduce their costs and move away from the 50g base.  The end result we created together that day did taste a little different from the base they had been using, but do you know what their reaction was?  They said it tasted better!

Will my customers notice?

The chances are that if you change your gelato base mix at this time of year your customers will not notice the difference from last summer or even if they tasted your ice cream a few weeks ago.  As long as the fat and sugar content are similar to the original base you were using and there is a similar level of flavour they will probably never know.

If you are already using a low dosage gelato base but you are looking to improve it without increasing the cost you might consider adding flavour to your base.  Remember a good base provides a platform for your flavours giving extra depth to your customer’s ice cream experience.

So… would I change my gelato base if I was you?  In my mind any business should be constantly looking at ways to improve, whether that is reviewing product quality or costs. If it is imperative to your business to keep your existing base you could consider developing a similar base to sit alongside which maybe better suited for the changing market we find ourselves serving. You can see some of what I have been developing if you follow on me on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.

January/February is a good time of year to experiment with different solutions so why not have a go at making your own ice cream or gelato base mix – you might even be pleasantly surprised by the result?  If not give me call or drop me a line and I will help you to get the balance right.  When we are back to ‘normal’ we also offer a training course on this subject.

See you next time for the latest scoop.


Gelato Jonny

Tessenderlo Antonelli’s National Technical Manager Jonny Ireland is a regular contributor to the ICA’s Ice Cream Magazine…

See how this article looked in the January 2021 Edition of the ICA’s Ice Cream Magazine…

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