Scientists have discovered a naturally occurring protein that can be used to create ice cream that is more resistant to melting than conventional products. The protein binds together the air, fat and water in ice cream, creating a super-smooth consistency.
The new ingredient could enable ice creams to keep frozen for longer in hot weather. It could also prevent gritty ice crystals from forming, ensuring a fine, smooth texture like those of luxury ice creams. The development could allow products to be manufactured with lower levels of saturated fat - and fewer calories - than at present.
The protein works by adhering to fat droplets and air bubbles, making them more stable in a mixture. Using the ingredient could offer significant advantages for ice cream makers. It can be processed without loss of performance, and can be produced from sustainable raw materials.
Manufacturers could also benefit from a reduced need to deep freeze their product, as the ingredient would keep ice cream frozen for longer. The supply chain would also be eased by a reduced need to keep the product very cold throughout delivery and merchandising.
The protein, known as BslA, was developed with support from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.