When I went to Italy a few years ago, I was able to try my very first gelato al limone (Lemon Gelato). It was a hot, dusty day in Firenze (Florence) and gelaterie were everywhere. I stepped up to the nearest one and asked for un gelato piccolo al limone (small Lemon Gelato). I don’t know why I asked for a gelato void of chocolate or vanilla, but the hot weather was most likely a major factor in my decision.
I dipped the plastic spoon in the already-melting, icy, fruity, acidic, milky concoction and brought a rounded, soft portion of gelato to my eager, dry lips. What happened after that is now a blur. The only next thing I remember is walking up to another gelateria for another gelato al limone. The only difference? I ordered a gelato GRANDE the next time. LOL! This chain-gelato-eating continued a couple more times that day. I was so full off of gelato that I didn’t get to eat hardly any savory items like pizza and pasta! You would think I would have learned my lesson or would have gotten tired of eating gelato, but I ended up doing the same thing on my first day of arrival in Venezia (Venice).
Ever year around this time I think about those gelati (the plural of gelato) and weep silently to myself that I’m too poor of a graduate student to just fly to Italy at a moment’s notice just for more. This year, however, I decided to remedy my gelato problem by looking for authentic recipes written in Italian and stumbled on Federica’s beautiful blog, La Cucina di Federica.
You would think that I would have made the gelato immediately after finding the recipe, but I waited a few weeks before I started juicing the lemons. After churning the gelato mixture, I transferred it to a lidded container, and placed it in the freezer. I tasted a bit of the mixture before I put it in the freezer, and it didn’t impress me much. I was starting to get wary…and disappointed.
HOWEVER, after it had frozen and after I took these photos, I took my first taste of this already-melting, icy, fruity, acidic, milky concoction and brought a rounded, soft portion of gelato to my eager, dry lips. Whoa! Didn’t we already see this line before? Yep. Because this gelato brought me back to that day in Firenze when I tasted my first gelato al limone. It was absolutely perfect that I almost cried. I have to say grazie mille to Federica for sharing such a perfect recipe.
This gelato has a perfect balance of acidity and milky flavors, and the bits of lemon zest are a nice, subtle contribution to the texture. I still want to jump on a plane to Italy at a moment’s notice, but not just for the gelato, but also to try out more of the savory items I had missed out on on my first trip!! You’ve got to try out this gelato. It’s easy to make and doesn’t have any eggs, yet it is still luscious with a lovely texture. Lastly, just like the gelati in Italy, this gelato melts a lot faster than ice cream, so take your photos quickly!
translated from La Cucina di Federica (no adaptations were necessary)
Use the ml/litre section in your liquid measuring cup for accurate measurements
juice of 3 lemons (~1/2 cup (120 gr/ml)) including the zest of 1 lemon
~3/4 cup (150 gr/ml) granulated sugar
~1 cup (200 gr/ml) milk
1+ cup (250 gr/ml) heavy cream
Juice the lemons over a strainer or sieve, and remove the seeds.
With a mixer (I used a whisk), mix the sugar, juice, and milk. Cover and allow the mixture to rest in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. Transfer the mixture to an ice-cream maker and pour in the heavy cream as it churns. Then transfer the churned mixture to a covered container and freeze for at least four hours. Now gobble the gelato all up before it melts!