When I’m at home during the summer months, I start each Saturday at my local farmer’s market, and as long as my favorite stand has strawberries I typically come home with several containers. There are several stands at my local market that have strawberries, but my favorite stand has one variety that no other stand has – and they’re the best strawberries I’ve ever tasted.
The trouble with strawberries is that they spoil so quickly, and since it feels like a crime to let such good berries go to waste I try to transform them as soon as I can into strawberry gelato – sometimes even by Saturday afternoon. And even during the summer I have no qualms about spending a little time in the kitchen to turn strawberries into strawberry gelato because this recipe requires no cooking whatsoever.
>> Want to make a whole Italian meal? Check out the other Italian classic recipes I’ve posted!
I first learned this recipe at a gelato class that was taught by the owner of the best gelato shops in Portland (where I currently live), and some of the best gelato I’ve had outside Italy – Mio Gelato. I have modified the recipe somewhat, mainly because I’m lazy, and it still turns out brilliantly. As mentioned, there’s no cooking necessary (even if you use the un-modified version), so it’s easy to whip this up even in hot weather when you don’t feel like going near the stove.
The recipe below is written as I first learned it, and my modifications are listed below that. I also regularly use this recipe to make peach gelato and raspberry gelato, so the adjustments for making both of those are below as well.
Strawberry Gelato Recipe – Gelato di Fragola
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- 1 lb. fresh strawberries
- 12 oz. granulated sugar, about 1.5 cups
- 1.5 cup cold whipping cream
- 1.5 cup cold water
- dash of lemon juice (only if fruit isn’t “bright” enough)
- Clean and cut washed berries into quarters, or just smaller pieces.
- Put berries, sugar and water into a blender or food processor and blend until liquid and smooth. (This is also where you’ll add lemon juice if necessary.)
- Whip the cream until slightly thickened – like the consistency of buttermilk.
- Combine the cream with the strawberry mixture and mix thoroughly until blended.
- The mixture will lose a little of its sweetness when it goes through the freezing process, so if the finished product seems a bit too sweet to you, that’s a good thing.
- Freeze as indicated by the manufacturer of your ice cream maker.
My Recipe Modifications
- I don’t bother whipping the cream, I just pour it from the container into the blender with everything else and blitz it all together.
- I add a few teaspoons or so of vodka to the mixture (at the same time I add lemon juice) so that it doesn’t freeze quite so hard. If you don’t add vodka, you’ll just need to pull it out of the freezer 10 or so minutes before you want to scoop it so it has time to soften a bit.
- To make sure the mixture freezes really well, I do all the blitzing in the blender and then stick the mixture into the fridge for a few hours (or overnight) to make sure it’s nice and cold before it goes into the ice cream maker.
Adjustments for Making Peach or Raspberry Gelato
- To Make Peach Gelato – With any kind of stone fruit, including peaches, you’ll always need to add lemon juice to the mixture. Otherwise, the proportions are the same. If the peaches are particularly juicy, you may want to cut down on the water added by a bit, lest the finished product have too much of an icy texture.
- To Make Raspberry Gelato – Depending on how lazy you are, you may want to blitz up the raspberries with the water and then strain at least some of the mixture to remove most of the seeds. Every time I’ve used this recipe to make raspberry gelato, I’ve also added more sugar than is listed above (and skipped the lemon juice altogether) because the mixture tasted too tart.
That’s it! No cooking – it couldn’t be easier. It’ll work with pretty much any fruit, you’ll just need to adjust the sweet/sour ratio as you go – and keep tasting it. If you’re dealing with a fruit that has seeds (raspberries) or skin (blueberries), then you’ll probably want to strain the fruit mixture (as I noted above in the raspberry gelato adjustment notes) unless you don’t care about the skin or seeds in the final product. The straining part can be a pain, so I generally just stick to the fruits that don’t require straining, but when I’ve taken the trouble to do it – with the raspberry in particular – the result is simply divine.
One additional note – if you don’t have an ice cream maker, you can still make homemade ice cream. The machines do a fantastic and effortless (for you, at least) job of aerating the ice cream, but you can do an acceptable job without one, too. Just pour the chilled mixture into an airtight container and put it in your freezer. Take it out every so often (half-hour intervals or less, depending on how much it’s freezing between the times you take it out) and give it a really good stir. Then pop it back into the freezer. Keep doing this until you can’t stir easily anymore and then let it continue to harden until you’re ready to eat it.
Good luck with your creations, and let me know how they turn out!
>> Check out the other Italian recipes on WhyGo Italy, too!
top photo by whitneyinchicago, all others by the author