“Learning to make heaven in a cone”. This is what a Instagrammer wrote to me in my gallery when last summer I published a photo saying I was on my way to make a gelato workshop. The expression just made me laugh and the truth is I cannot agree more.
In 2008 I lived for a year in Bologna (Emilia-Romagna region, Italy). That year the town went unnoticed by tourists and culinary workshops or courses were barely developed. Nowadays it is very different. If you google “Bologna cooking courses” you will find dozens of options. And although I regularly go back to Bologna, it was not until last year I discovered that on the outskirts of the town, a gelato museum was opened in 2012.
Its name is Carpigiani and is nothing more and nothing less than a famous machine brand to prepare gelato, so famous that today is sold worldwide. Five years ago the company decided to open a museum and nowadays they also offer workshops and long-term courses, the latter meant for people who want to open their own ice-cream shop or work as gelato master. As soon as I had the opportunity, during one of my visits to Bologna, I decided to sign up for one of their workshops.
So one morning in July (a very hot one of course!) I headed to my appointment with the Carpigiani ready to spend a few hours surrounded by a tasty variety of gelati. As soon as I arrived the teacher gave a guided tour around the museum to the group. She explained the origins and development history of the machines.
The ice-cream was not born as we know it today. Its origins start when Arabians introduce the sugar cane in Sicily (Italy) in the IX century. They used to prepare herbal teas using water, sugar, spices and herbs to let them rest in circular containers surrounded by ice and salt. Then they had to stir it continuously until obtaining ice-cream.
But it was not until the XVIII century when it became famous thanks to the Sicilian chef Francesco Procopio when he moved to Paris and it was there, in France, when the ice cream began to be known in all Europe.
After these and other many interesting explanations we went to the gelato shop opened to the public which is attached to the museum. It was there where I learnt the technical aspects about how to prepare gelato and combine the different ingredients depending if you want to prepare just gelato or “gelato alla fruta” (also called sorbet).
When we finished we headed to the processing area where we produced our gelato in the same space than the Carpigiani gelato masters. It was great! Besides, I also had the opportunity to eat some of the gelati they sell there everyday.
All in all, the experience was really enjoyable and I recommend it to everyone. You can join one of their workshops almost at any time of the year, prior reservation. The workshops last three hours and they give you a certificate of attendance and all the written material you need to prepare the gelato at home. Keep in mind that you will need a gelato machine (unless you are an extremely patient person and you want to do it as Arabians used to).
Among the flavours the teacher proposed, I chose melon (really fresh for that hot morning!). Hereunder I leave two recipes: the one from the Carpigiani and the other from a classic cookbook called “L’Arte della Cucina Moderna”.
MELON GELATO (RECIPE FROM CARPIAGIANI MUSEUM)
500 gr Galia type melon (3 cups and a half)
200 gr sucrose (1 cup)
57 gr destroxe (1/4 cup)
225 gr water (1 cup)
10 gr juice of a lemon (1/3 cup)
3 gr stabilizer (1 tsp)
Remove the seeds and the peel from the lemon, cut it into cubes and put it in the blender with all the ingredients. When well-whisked, move the mix to the ice cream machine and follow the instructions on your device.
WATERMELON GELATO (RECIPE BY L’ARTE DELLA CUCINA MODERNA)
400 gr melon (already without seeds and peel) 3 cups
400 ml sugar syrup (2 cups) at 32ºC (90ºF)
The juice of half a big lemon
The juice of a big orange
After removing the seeds and the peel, mash the melon into a purée and drain all the remaining water (you can use a fruit strainer). Now in a big bowl put the melon paste and all the ingredients. Mix well.
Then, introduce the thermometer and make sure the temperature is 21ºC (70ºF). If this is higher, add more water to lower it. If it is lower, add more sugar syrup. In either cases, add it gradually. Finally, put all the mix in the gelato machine and follow the instructions on your device.
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