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With a variety of flavor and inclusion options available, ice cream has remained a favorite staple dessert for consumers. Ice cream is a mixture of milk, cream, sugar and other ingredients. Ice cream often contains stabilizers to help the formulation keep a consistent and enjoyable texture throughout distribution. Sugar or sugar substitutes are usually added to provide the sweet flavor that most people expect.

Formulating ice cream is not as easy as sticking a cream or milk concoction in the freezer. Special techniques must be employed to create small ice crystals and enough air to ensure a soft, recognizable texture. 

ice cream stabilizers

Ice cream is a unique food application as it contains two emulsions: butterfat dispersed in the mix during pasteurization and air entrapped in the ice cream mix during freezing (overrun). Emulsifiers must be added to obtain the desired 85-100% overrun. Additionally, the quality and texture of commercially-produced ice cream are dependent on the freeze/thaw stability and melting rate of the formulation. Product developers optimize these characteristics of their formulations by incorporating emulsifiers to manage moisture and control ice crystal growth.

Stabilizer Systems vs. Single Ingredients in Ice Cream

While there are situations where a single gum or hydrocolloid can effectively stabilize an ice cream formulation, a stabilizer system that is specifically designed to address the challenges of the application is often a more efficient and effective solution.

Rate of flow per unit force: the force to draw between lips from spoon, and the rate of flow across tongue

Texture Attributes of Ice Cream
Texture Terminology Definitions Examples
Mouth Coating Degree to which mouth surfaces are coated after swallowing or expectorating water dessert gel vs creamy peanut butter
Viscosity Rate of flow per unit force: the force to draw between lips from spoon, and the rate of flow across tongue water vs sweetened condensed milk
Rate of Melt The speed with which the sample melts during mastication or manipulation. The rate at which the sample changes from a solid to a liquid high gum ice cream vs soft serve ice cream

Functions of Stabilizers in Ice Cream

  • Freeze-thaw stability
  • Ice crystal formation
  • Mono- and digylceride replacement

Questions a Gum Guru May Ask When Recommending a Stabilizer

  • What is your overrun?
  • Moisture control requirements?
  • Label claim goals?
  • Functionality needs?

Resources

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Products

  • Product
    Application
    Usage Level
    Features
  • Dairy, Ice Cream
    0.25-0.35%
    Stabilizes and emulsifies milk proteins and additional ingredients in bulk packaged ice cream
  • Dairy, Ice Cream
    0.30-0.60%
    Turn-key blend that stabilizes and emulsifies without mono and di-glycerides
  • Dairy, Ice Cream
    0.25 - 0.40%
    Provides superior freeze/thaw stability and controls the size of ice crystals for an improved sensory experience
  • Dairy, Ice Cream
    0.15-0.25%
    Enhances texture and provides stability in cold-processed, instant soft-serve mixes
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