There was a time when over-the-counter ice cream was simply scooped out of plastic or cardboard-like containers kept on dry ice or in some kind of rudimentary refrigeration unit.

But today, ice cream comes in dozens of flavors and even more fancy names, both over-the-counter and in self-serve freezers.

One type of ice cream-like concoction that has been around a while but is becoming especially popular is gelato, an Italian frozen dessert made from milk and sugar, combined with other flavorings. The ingredients are super-cooled while stirring to break up ice crystals as they form. Gelato generally has less than 35 percent air.

That creates a pretty high-end product that needs specific refrigeration requirements.

Master-Bilt, a manufacturer of commercial refrigeration systems, has introduced several new gelato and ice cream cabinets.

"We've always had a strong equipment presence in the ice cream industry with our quality dipping cabinets and other refrigeration components like hardening cabinets and walk-in units, but manufacturers were asking for additional options that we hadn't developed," says Bill Huffman, vice president of sales and marketing. "We took their requests into our development facility and have recently expanded our ice cream equipment line to include these new pieces and meet their needs."

The latest products are GEL Series gelato case, and an enhanced version of their deluxe ice cream dipping/display merchandiser, now available with optional rear service doors, like the one pictured above.

Huffman said the American-made GEL Series means customers could avoid possible problems associated with overseas manufacturers and dollar fluctuations. He added that parts and service are readily available. GEL merchandisers are shipped fully assembled for ease of installation.

The GEL Series features a top-hinged front display door that stays in place at whatever point it is raised. The top hinge allows for cleaning and helps prevent corrosion problems and possible health code violations by keeping spills from collecting in the usual bottom hinge area. Additionally the evaporator coil is concealed to avoid spillage and possible premature refrigeration system failure.

GEL gelato cases come in three models: GEL-6 (6 pans wide), GEL-9 (9 pans wide), and GEL-12 (12 pans wide), all of which are 2 pans deep. The cases can use 5-liter pans or USA standard 1/3 pans or three-gallon tubs. The temperature range adjusts from –5° to 20°F which makes the GEL usable for merchandising gelato, ice cream, sorbet, or Italian ice. The walls are 2 inches thick with polyurethane insulation in the refrigeration compartment for reliable performance. GEL-6 refrigeration systems contain one condensing unit while the GEL-9 and GEL-12 contain two. Semi-hermetic compressors are standard in all systems.

For more information, contact the company at

Publication date: 03/06/2006