Until recently, immense amounts of added sugar were necessary to get the consistency right, but new technology allows makers to slash a batch containing 700g of sugar to just 10g.
Credit: Wolfgang Kaehler / Getty Images

If you’ve ever dug into a cone piled high with gelato, you know it’s so much more than just upscale ice cream. Gelato is delicate, creamy, and intensely flavored in a way other frozen desserts only wish they were.

Gelato is typically made with milk, cream, sugar, and flavoring. Then the mixture is slowly stirred by a machine until it reaches optimal temperature, resulting in very little air whipped in the batter.

This creates the dense, delicious flavor gelato is famous for—but, though it’s tasty, it’s not so good for your health. Just one cup of vanilla bean gelato from the popular brand Talenti hits 380 calories and 48g of sugar. Ugh.

Don’t worry, there’s good news: gelato doesn’t have to be off the menu thanks to dessert equipment company, Carpigiano. Using math, culinary expertise, and a little science, a new gelato machine was recently unveiled that makes delicious gelato with zero added sugar. NPR reports the machine made its debut at a mega trade show in Rimini, Italy, where all things new in gelato, pastry, chocolate, and coffee are presented.

The final product yields a low-sugar option, using a tiny bit of the Italian sweetener Diete.Tic. to maintain flavor in the dessert. Typically, a batch of 3,500 grams of gelato contains around 700 grams of sugar. This version boasts only 10 grams of sweetener in a game-changing win for those who are trying to cut back on sugar, reports NPR.

"Why are we thinking to cancel sugar? Because we know about metabolic disease. Because we don't eat very well," Gianpaolo Valli, a senior instructor at Carpigiani Gelato University, told NPR. He also mentioned the end goal is not the cut sugar completely, but to offer low-sugar gelato with half or a third of the sugar.

The sweetener used is an intensive sweetening powder—it’s low-calorie, advertised to be safe for diabetics, and doesn’t drastically change blood sugar levels. The powder is made from the sweetening salts sodium cyclamate, sodium saccharinate, and acesulfame potassium, according to the company’s website.

Many other brands of low-sugar gelato achieve sweetness and texture with sugar replacements like stevia or sugar alcohols, NPR reports. Unlike aspartame which is metabolized, the sweetening salts in Diete.Tic. are expelled through urine, according to the company’s website.

There’s a lot of math and art to crafting the perfect gelato. The sugars are considered the critical element to achieve the velvety texture. Chefs need to make the perfect ratio of solids to water, which falls between 32 and 46 percent. If the numbers are off, even by a little, the product won’t be tasty. This new machine achieves the perfect ratios using computer algorithms and temperature controlled gas, according to NPR.

So when can you expect to see these machines pop up in your favorite gelato shop? Not for a while, unfortunately. The company is slowly updating software and perfecting the product to achieve delicious flavor while keeping sugar low.

"To get to the perfect product, it still needs a lot of work. But I love the idea of it," Sonja Ruppert, an employee at a gelato shop in Massachusetts told NPR at the expo.