What Is Spumoni Ice Cream?

I’m far from the first person to remark on it, but the word “spumoni” conjures up pasta. Of course, this is incorrect. Spumoni is a form of ice cream, as we will soon learn. But why is it that it sounds like something you’d have with meatballs and a side of garlic bread instead of sprinkles? I suspect it’s because it’s because of the “oni.” Think about it: rigatoni, macaroni, cannelloni. However, pepperoni and Negroni also fit this pattern, but no one would ever accuse them of being pasta. Whatever the reason, spumoni has a reputation for sounding distinctly un-ice-cream-like. Let’s end this today and learn a little more about this tasty treat. What’s spumoni ice cream? What does it taste like? Let’s scoop up some answers.

What is spumoni ice cream?

Spumoni is a traditional Italian dessert. Technically speaking, it is a form of gelato rather than ice cream, and it’s also made with whipped cream and mix-ins such as candied nuts and fruit. It has a very light, airy texture. In fact, the name “spumoni” comes from the Italian word for “foam.” 

Typically, spumoni is made up of three separate flavors (similar to another Italian ice cream classic, the Neapolitan). The flavors are pistachio, cherry, and either chocolate or vanilla, and there is usually cherries in the cherry layer (think: maraschino cherries), pistachio nuts in the pistachio layer, and sometimes chocolate chips in the chocolate layer. 

Confusing things slightly is the fact that there are straight up ice creams that are “spumoni flavored.” In other words, these are not gelato, just regular ice cream that you’d get at the grocery store or Baskin Robbins except that they have the specific spumoni flavor profile. 

What is in spumoni ice cream?

To answer this question, we must first ask: What is gelato made of? Gelato starts with a custard base that has more milk and fewer eggs than ice cream. This is churned to become gelato. For spumoni, whipped cream is also added, and then layers of candied nuts, fruit, cookie pieces, or other sweet delights. As noted above, there are usually three flavors to spumoni—pistachio, cherry, and either vanilla or chocolate. 

In terms of actual ice cream that is spumoni flavored, the answer is easy. Here’s the listed ingredients for Prairie Farms’ Spumoni ice cream: “Cream, Milk, Sugar, Skim Milk, Whey, Stabilizer (Mono and Diglycerides, Carob Bean Gum, Guar Gum, Cellulose Gum and Carrageenan), Spumoni Fruit (Sugar, Pineapple, Apples, Cranberries, Raisins, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Black Cherries, Grapes, Peaches, Malic Acid, Carob Bean Gum, Natural Flavor, Red #40, Nutmeg), Corn Syrup, Cocoa (Processed with Alkali), Natural and Artificial Flavor, Turmeric (color), Blue #1, Red #3.”

Is spumoni ice cream seasonal?

While the determined ice cream enthusiast might be able to track down spumoni at any time of the year in the right Italian specialty foods store, by and large it is a flavor associated with the summertime. Those few major brands that still do carry spumoni ice cream often bring it out for a limited time during the hot months.

Is spumoni ice cream gluten free? 

Ice cream and gelato are naturally gluten free, so celiac sufferers should be all fine on that count. And there is at least one spumoni-flavored ice cream on the market that touts its lack of gluten. However, in general, spumoni can also include add-ins such as candied nuts and other mix-ins, which may contain gluten. Be sure to double check any food labels to be absolutely certain. 

About the Author

Matt Crowley

Matt Crowley is a comedy writer living in Los Angeles. He likes maple-flavored snacks, loves every kind of cheese, and is slowly learning to accept mushrooms.

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