I'm pretty sure I can make the gelato for J's party the day it's served. My guess is that there will be 15-20 people at most at this party, and servings will be small. My machine can churn/freeze 1 qt in approximately 1/2 hour. Without having given the matter a lot of thought, my guess is that I should aim to make 4 quarts. Does that sound right? Since I haven't tried, I don't know if there will be any problems with trying to turn out that many batches of ice cream back to back.
Decisions about fat and stabilizers seem to be the main challenge in gelato making, as far as I can tell. I guess I can't procrastinate on experimenting much longer. For me there are a few kinds of things to make decisions about:
"Natural" Stabilizers (milk fat, cream fat, egg fat)
In principle, I'm not against any of these. The only reason I want to minimize fat content is to maximize the capacity of the milk to deliver flavour to the tongue. But I know I need to strike a balance here. Some fat is desirable, because a creamy texture is desirable. I've been using full fat milk from an Ontario organic dairy (Harmony) that I really like, and cream from the same dairy. I find the flavour of the cream really strong, so I don't think I want a lot of it. As for custard bases, I think I need to play with them. Eggs will impart extra flavour, especially if I use my regular source of eggs. Also, I associate custard bases with chewy ice cream, and I always assume I dislike chewy ice cream. But I've heard that some people value a degree of chew, so maybe I just don't adequately appreciate this characteristic.
Processed Stabilizers (dried milk, cornstarch, gelatin, xanthan gum, etc.)
I think there are probably degrees of processed-ness in these things. I'm not in principle against most of them, but I want to understand what they do before I use them. I don't want to use pre-packaged mixes, because it would defeat some of my purposes, as a home gelato maker.
I suppose this is a sub-category of stabilizer. I have a preferred brand of organic cane sugar that I use for baking. I like to think I'm not dogmatically committed to it, but I admit that I avoid using more refined sugars. (I'm fascinated by sugar, both by its aesthetic properties and its chemical properties. Part of what's exciting about this gelato project is that it will motivate me to learn more about sugar.)
Not surprisingly, I feel most comfortable with natural stabilizers. I feel less comfortable with the other two categories, and so, as is becoming increasingly apparent, I guess I just need to experiment. I'm thinking of beginning with dried milk and maybe cornstarch.
Edited by Khadija, 12 January 2010 - 11:31 AM.