As we have often noted, ice cream is the only food intended to be consumed frozen. Thus, dairy processors need to protect that which fails first, i.e., body and texture (which can be described as bite, chew, smoothness and creaminess.)
Certain ingredients allow ice cream to travel farther and recover from heat shock. But that doesn’t matter to the label-reading consumer. Here are some strategies for ice cream manufacturers to deliver a cleaner label.
In our May column, we discussed the so-called “rare” sugars. These are sugars found in nature but at ultra-low levels. The most commercially available rare sugars are tagatose and allulose, recognized as providing sucrose-like sweetness (~ 0.90 and ~0.70, respectfully) at significantly lower caloric contributions (1.5 and 0.20 calories per gram, respectively).
There is a growing mandate from health authorities to reduce consumption of sugars (i.e., mono- and di-saccharides). For example, the current Dietary Guidelines for Americans call for significant reduction in calories from “added sugars.” Excluding lactose (which could eventually be included), current frozen desserts can contribute up to 22 grams of added sugars per serving, representing approximately 80% of total calories. The numbers will surge as serving sizes are increased to reflect the amounts typically consumed by Americans.
Extremely cold ‘cryobits’ accelerate temperature reduction of the packaged product. Ice crystals and air bubbles are significantly smaller with partial cryogenic hardening compared to traditional hardening methods.
The cryogenic freezing of ice cream is appealing because the very rapid temperature drop it produces generates extremely small ice crystals that promote smooth texture and extended textural shelf life. To date, technical, operational and economic factors have limited its use in conventional production to a few value-added products such as novelties and ice cream cakes/pies.
It is not a simple matter when you add nuts, cookies or ribbons to ice cream mix. Pay attention to formulas, overrun, food safety, processing and economics. Proceed carefully and you’ll end up with a great product.