Ice cream is all good and we know it very well! But one thing you might not know is that, to bring this delight to you, the industry needs to follow a series of precautions.
Controlling all parameters of the ice cream process, as well as balancing the formulation are essential to obtain a quality ice cream, an ice cream that does not melt so easily, that does not form many ice crystals, that does not deform, that has a adequate creaminess and good aeration.
Have you, as a consumer, ever noticed any of these attributes mentioned when you were trying an ice cream? Well, repairing or not, the industry constantly evaluates them in search of improvements so that you, the consumer, have the best possible product.
Check out below some precautions that the ice cream industry is always aware of:
1 – White spots or spots on popsicles
In fruit popsicles, known as water-based popsicles, it is possible to find a defect that is characterized as white spots, or even whitish spots, on the surface of the product. This defect occurs when there are problems in the balance of sugars in the water-based popsicle formulation, this balance failure results in low sugar stability, with that any temperature variation suffered by the popsicle can result in the migration of sugars to the surface of the product, generating the unwanted white spots. The problem is more recurrent when only a single type of sugar is used in the formulation, as in this situation the stability of the sugar is even lower, making the product more susceptible. The use of a stabilizer system (composed of specific gums) for popsicles is also a simple solution for this type of defect.
2 – Fast Melting
Ice cream is to be enjoyed during consumption, in order to bring sensory satisfaction to the consumer through its flavor and creaminess, for this it should not melt too quickly, drip or disassemble during the consumption experience. With this in mind, ice cream manufacturers need to pay close attention to the process parameters and be careful when choosing their ingredients, below are some simple tips that influence this aspect of creaminess:
- sugars directly influence the freezing temperature of water, so a good balance of sugars is not only capable of influencing the sweetness of the final product but also the softness of the ice cream;
- The added fat is largely responsible for the sensation of creaminess and the choice of the adequate fat in the ideal proportion associated with a quality emulsifier will be essential for the creamy and resistant structure;
- The system of stabilizers (gums and hydrocolloids) is fundamental to define the characteristic of the ice cream texture at the end of the process.
3 – Excess air
It may sound strange but yes, air is also an ingredient in the formulation of ice cream, more than that: it is one of the most important ingredients! Without it, ice cream loses the softness and velvety mouthfeel that are so appreciated by consumers.
The air is incorporated into the ice cream syrup through an equipment known as “producer”, the same equipment responsible for freezing the syrup. Quality equipment with up-to-date maintenance is essential to provide good results when adding air to the product, however this is not enough to guarantee the air insertion process. Before entering the producer, the syrup must have been subjected to an adequate homogenization (according to its formulation), to a maturation that respects the minimum time and maximum temperature recommended, and to have the emulsifier dosage in the proper amount.
4 – Ice cream, but not too much
In addition to the consumption temperature, there is a parameter called the cold sensation, which is related to the product’s freshness. It should be refreshing, but not too cold. Incorrect choice of emulsifier, a formulation with low total solids content or even inadequate homogenization can lead to an increased cold feeling and impair the final product tasting experience.
5 – Shrinkage
Images courtesy of DuPont Danisco
Another precaution that the ice cream industry must take is with shrinkage. This phenomenon can be noticed when the ice cream comes off the sides of the jar, or the cone that covers it, it is always inconvenient when the product does not occupy the packaging in its entirety. Shrinkage is caused by a high degree of coalescence of the air bubbles, that is, when the small air bubbles, which are dispersed in the frozen ice cream, manage to meet each other, they join together to form larger air bubbles; the large air bubbles in turn are strong enough to disrupt the network formed by the fat and ice crystals and migrate to the surface of the ice cream, thus resulting in the exit of air into the environment and, consequently, in the loss of volume, causing the shrinkage of the ice cream. To avoid this problem, it is important to be careful with some guidelines such as adequate total solids balance, quality of raw materials, appropriate emulsifier and stabilizers and in sufficient quantities, in addition to ensuring good processing that respects the ideal time, temperature and pressure parameters for the product.
6 – Ice Crystals
Images courtesy of DuPont Danisco
The ice cream industry is not simply preparing to produce good ice cream, in fact it pays attention to the entire distribution chain for its product. Therefore, planning is necessary to overcome the weather that the product may suffer from the moment it leaves the factory until it reaches the final customer’s tasting, the most common obstacle to be faced is the temperature variation that the product may suffer and this phenomenon is the main cause of several defects in ice cream, among them, the formation of large and excessive ice crystals in ice cream. The best defense to alleviate this defect is to have a formulation with a good balance of total solids, after all, the ideal ratio between the water added to the syrup and the total solids is essential for having a more stable ice cream. In addition, some stabilizer systems are more efficient in terms of thermal shock resistance and make a significant difference in the stability of the final product.
Are you curious and want to know more about the exciting world of ice cream? Take the opportunity to watch our partner Dupont’s videos:
Collaboration: Sarah Minami (Innovation) and Melina Gonçalves (Sales)