gelato salem oregon

New gelato vendor at Saturday Market shares his secrets

An Oregon gelato champ who sells his cool treat at the Salem Saturday Market explains what goes in to the perfect scoop.

Coffee ice cream and grapefruit sorbet at ACME Cafe. (Photo: Brooke Jackson-Glidden / Statesman Journal) Buy Photo

Earlier this year, a reader called me complaining about a particular ice cream shop in town. I asked him, “What do you think makes a good scoop of ice cream?”

“Good ice cream is creamy, it’s sweet, and you just can’t stop eating it.”

He’s not wrong: When we’re eating the good stuff, we know. The pint disappears, and we stare deep into the chocolate-smeared carton wondering how we got to this point. If we have a spoon, we keep it in our mouth a little too long, as if there might be just a bit we haven’t tasted yet, as if the bite could last a little longer if we kept waiting. If it’s in a cone, we go in face-first and end up with a little bit of cookie dough stuck to our foreheads, cherry swirl smeared on our cheeks.

Tracy Nye of Sea Star Gelato knows ice cream. He studied the stuff at the PreGel gelato school in North Carolina and now runs a successful gelato shop in Seaside. Nye serves his gelato in Salem every week at the Saturday Market, where he and his son Landon Nye scoop rich chocolate peanut butter and bright Marionberry lemon. His ice cream is exceptionally good, with lingering flavors that are not too sweet or artificial. Nye stepped away from his stand to talk through the components of a perfect scoop.

Landon Nye offers a sample of sorbetto at the Sea Star Gelato stand at the Salem Saturday Market. (Photo: Brooke Jackson-Glidden / Statesman Journal)

Fat: Not too much, because it tends to dull flavor. Gelato often has as little as 7 percent fat, just to make sure the natural flavors stand out. Fat does, however, aid in texture. Custard -based ice cream, like the ice cream at ACME, uses milkfat and egg to create that silky, rub-it-all-over-my-body-like-lotion texture. ACME chef-owner Jeff James makes a custard base but often keeps the flavors themselves simple: cinnamon, coffee, vanilla: things that lend themselves to baking flavors.

Overrun: Overrun is the air that’s whipped into ice cream. This is what makes ice cream lickable, drippable goodness. Too much overrun, however, will make ice cream melt more quickly. Too little, and you may break a spoon on your way in. Nye uses about 15 to 20 percent overrun, which allows for a silky texture and mouthfeel while maintaining the integrity of the ice cream.

Ice (well, the freezing process): Have you ever looked in your pint of Cherry Garcia and spotted a palace of crystals fit for The Snow Queen? Often, if your freezer drops too low in temperature, the ice cream will refreeze at a slower rate, which allows ice crystals to grow larger. The speed ice cream freezes affects the development of ice crystals, which is why Thai rolled ice cream and liquid nitrogen ice cream have become popular: Ice cream frozen in seconds, for oh-so-smooth ice cream. Tyson Mayberry at Tysonberry’s Chilliscious Ice Cream makes ice cream with liquid nitrogen because of the temperature, but also because he knows his ice cream is fresh (it is, after all, made in front of you). For those without handy freezing gadgets, like James or Nye himself, the aging of the ice cream’s emulsification, as well as added stabilizers like egg yolks or locust bean, allows for a smoother freeze without a mouthful of ice shards.

Shop uses liquid nitrogen to make made-to-order ice cream in seconds

An Oregon gelato champ who sells his cool treat at the Salem Saturday Market explains what goes in to the perfect scoop of ice cream

Gelato salem oregon

Ritter’s offers an extensive selection of delectable sweets and treats, all made in-house by our talented pastry chef. We also carry a wide selection of delicious gelato by Bontà Gelato. Our full-service coffee and espresso bar features fresh roasted beans by The Governor’s Cup Coffee Roasters

Do you have a sweet tooth? Look no further than our incredible pastry selections.

Seasonal Layered Cake

Flourless Chocolate Torte (gluten free)


Chocolate Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bar (gluten free)

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookies (gluten free)

Ginger Molasses Cookies

Enjoy Ritter's Housemade desserts including pies, cakes and cookies. We also serve ice cream and gelato. And to compliment your sweet tooth we have a full service espresso and coffee bar.