Spring Pastels

As promised, here are a few experimental gelato recipes that work with the Sicilian gelato custard base. These three are pretty pastel pink, green and yellow for spring. The choices of flavourings are the creative aspects of gelato making, but each have their own properties that need to be taken into consideration.


They are examples of how the flavours and consistencies of the added elements require a little manipulation of the proportions of the dairy and starch content in the custard base as well as the quantity of sweet syrups (i.e. honey in these cases). The dried apricot purée is thicker than most fresh fruit purées and requires less starch thickener and less dairy fat content. The ground pistachio is not a wet purée and does not contain as much sweetener as fruit; therfore, the amount of dairy in the base and the honey in the flavouring are both increased. The rhubarb and strawberry jam purée is in consistency and sweetness the average and only requires the basic custard mixture.

Once made, store the gelatos in the freezer, but remove them from the freezer at least 20 minutes before serving (or more, depending on the ambient temperature of your room). Gelato is generally softer and less solid than ice cream, best scooped at about -12 to -5 degrees C (approximately 10-22 defrees F). The results of the experiments are evaluated below.


Strawberry-Rhubarb Gelato

  • 250g rhubarb
  • 24g sugar
  • 1 lemon
  • 150g strawberry jam, preferably homemade
  • 60ml honey
  • 2 to 3 Tablespoons strawberry liqueur (fragolo) or lemoncello
  • Sicilian gelato custard base (see instructions below for proportions)

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C (350 degrees F). Clean and cut the rhubarb stalks into chunks and place in a roasting pan. Sprinkle on the sugar and then pour over the juice of the lemon (approximately 3 Tablespoons). Roast the rhubarb for about 25 to 30 minutes, until it is soft and almost falling apart. Purée – with or without the strawberry jam – and sieve to get a smooth fruit pulp.

If you opt to purèe the stawberry jam with the rhubarb you will get a smooth gelato; adding the jam after purèeing and sieving the rhubarb will produce chunks of fruit in the gelato. Completely cool the pulp and jam mixture before adding the honey and the liqueur. Add this mixture to the standard corn flour Sicilian gelato custard base consisting of 200ml cream, 300ml milk, 36g corn starch and 100g sugar. Process in your ice cream machine.


Pistachio Gelato

Grind the pistaschios until very fine, then add the honey and vanilla before stirring into the cooled gelato custard base. To compensate for no fruit pulp, the amount of milk in the gelato base is increased to 500ml in addition to the normal 200ml cream. Sugar (100g) and corn flour (36g) remain the same as in the standard recipe. Process in your ice cream machine.


Apricot Gelato

  • 250g dried apricots
  • 60ml honey
  • 2 Tablespoons Apricot eau de vie, Armagnac, Cognac or brandy
  • Sicilian gelato custard base (see instructions below)

Put the dried apricots in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, cover and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Let this cook for approximately 25 minutes until the apricots are plump and very soft. Drain and then purée with the alcohol. Pass the apricot mixture through sieve for a smooth product, and add the honey. Let it cool completely before adding to the gelato base. The gelato base is modified here with a reduced amount of cream (100ml) and 400ml milk. The sugar amount is the same (100g), but the corn flour is also reduced to 24g. Process in your ice cream machine.

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Results & Evaluation:
The strawberry-rhubarb gelato was lovely, creamy and packed with flavour without being overly sweet. In fact, quite perfect.

The pistachio, however, was a tad bit more solid than the gelatos made with fruit pulp and I’m now trying to figure out how to improve its texture, possibly with the addition of a mild fruit pulp that will not compete with the nut taste, such as apple or pear. It could also have been enhanced if I had remembered to toast the nuts first before grinding. These improvements always crop up as afterthoughts!

The apricot was similarly full-flavoured, but the use of a dried fruit purée produced a different texture, similar to that of Turkish or Greek mastic ice cream. Although it was slightly gummy/chewy, it was not unpleasant. But, since the strawberry jam (instead of fresh fruit) in the first gelato worked very well, I would be tempted next time to produce a different apricot gelato using about 200 to 250g of puréed apricot jam with an squeeze of lemon for a contrasting sharpness, rather than starting with dried apricots, and use Lemoncello instead of a brandy to add to the freshness of the gelato.

These results have shown me that jams work well as they are concentrated fruit flavours and their sugar (sucrose) content has been safely altered in the jam-making process to prevent it reverting to a crystaline state. That’s good news since I have quite a bit of Damson plum jam from last year still to get through, so, it’s back to the lab for more mixing experiments!


  1. Fantastic! Isn’t it amazing how small alterations make big differences in gelato making. Every recipe for pistachio gelato I’ve seen uses a paste similar to marzipan. It’s tricky to source here and quite expensive, but my favourite flavour at our local gelato shop. Can’t wait to see the damson jam creation!

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    • Those little alterations make the alchemy of gelato making fun – well, at least fun when the end product is edible! Pistachio “butter” (i.e. paste) recipes I looked up seemed to consist simply of ground nuts puréed with honey. These two ingredients are already in the gelato, so I think I will experiment with a concentrated smooth apple purée added to the mixture. I am loath to add more cream – partly for the calories, but also because getting fresh cream next year in Greece is going to be difficult. I need to build up a repertoire of gelato recipes to suit the situation! The jam worked brilliantly, so it seems I will not be dependant on what fruits are in season. AND…the nearby island of Aegina is a hotspot for pistachio production, so I will be awash in them. Can’t wait!

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    • Next on the list… Hopefully will work up a post on it. I wonder if a bit of ginger would work well with it? Might try it, but then I might chicken out and simply go with plain damson gelato.


      • Mmmm I would love that. Stem ginger! But then straight would also be great, no doubt. Have you ever used cordials in ice cream? I just did for the first time. A while ago I made a blackcurrant and liquorice ice cream, but we’ve found a great b.currant cordial which I’ve just used in a no-churn recipe with a bit of limoncello to keep it soft. Looking forward to it!

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    • I was really surprised with the results from using jam. I always make too much during the fruiting season, so am forever on the lookout for alternative ways of using it. I think it is the concentration of flavour in jams that worked well here.


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