If you have been fortunate enough to visit Italy in late summer or early fall when melons are at their peak, then most likely you have experienced one of the most refreshing desserts in the world: a creamy, luscious, melon gelato. I indulged in a “melone un gelato piccolo” or Melone Popsicle several times a day since the cold melon relieved my morning sickness (I wish the sickness really was only in the morning.) Not a bad way to subdue the nausea.
For months I have been searching for a melon gelato recipe that did not turn into ice crystals. I started to give up since several chefs said I could not reproduce it due to the difference in the melons but then one day, Matthew Basford, executive chef of Canoe sent me a recipe pretty close to the perfect Italian gelato after I mentioned my search at a Morningside Market demo. Thank you Matthew for sharing your recipe!
When I first reviewed the ingredients, I was hesitant to make the gelato since I assumed glucose is a highly processed food syrup made from GMO starch crops but after a little debate and coaxing from another chef who gave me some glucose to get over my concern, I tried it and will continue to use it in my ice creams since it makes all the difference in texture and stability. Now my gelato will last in the freezer for weeks even with the freeze and thaw cycles that melt my popsicles and other frozen treats. Please let me know if you find a non GMO glucose.
You can buy glucose on the internet. It is a thick, sticky, clear syrup. You can use a corn syrup but make sure it is not high fructose corn syrup since it will be too sweet and change the flavor. Or, you can try another recipe I included at the bottom from Chez Panisse with melon puree, sugar and a drop of wine but expect some ice crystals.
Cantaloupes are at the end of their season so make this now. You probably will not find them at your farmer’s market but they are still at the grocery store coming from California. They are not as fragrant as locally grown ones but still taste very fresh and sweet.
Now I need to convince my husband we need to go back to Italy and compare. This time I can drink the wine!
Directions for Cantaloupe Sorbet/Gelato
1) Boil sugar, water, and glucose. Then simmer for 3 mins to create a simple syrup also known as 30° Baume syrup. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.
2. Cut the melons in half and remove the seeds. Cut off rind (You can place in a mason jar with gin to infuse melon into the gin. Recipe for a cantaloupe gin drink can be found in this post. ) Puree the cantaloupe. Add fruit to the sugar mixture, leave to cool. Then churn in your ice cream maker. I churned the gelato for 40 minutes.
3. Place in the freezer to set for several hours. Serve a large scoop with mint. Enjoy!
Note: This will last for 2 weeks in the freezer. Makes 1.25 gallons.
Thank you Richard Bunn for the Chez Panisse recipe and Matthew Basford for his own Melon Sorbet recipe.