Talk about a cool idea! Ben & Jerry’s are developing a secret new recipe that stops ice creams melting in higher temperatures
- Unilever, which makes Ben & Jerry’s and Magnum, wants to cut carbon footprint
- It is creating a new recipe to stop ice creams melting in higher temperatures
Ben & Jerry’s and Magnum ice creams are undergoing a secret new recipe revolution to stop them melting at higher temperatures.
The aim is to make the cold treats stay solid for longer in warmer conditions as part of a drive to save energy and slash the carbon footprint of the brands’ owner.
British consumer giant Unilever has not disclosed exactly how it will make the new ice cream, but experts believe the answer is likely to lie in either using more starch, or removing some of the sugar.
The tricky problem with the latter, however, is that slight changes to the formula of an ice cream can affect the delicate balance between texture and sweetness.
The goal of the ambitious experiment is to find a formula that retains the taste, firmness, and ‘mouth feel’ of each Ben & Jerry’s and Magnum product at higher temperatures.
Revolution: Ben & Jerry’s and Magnum ice creams are undergoing a secret new recipe revolution to stop them melting at higher temperatures
Scientists for Unilever want to create a new recipe for Ben & Jerry’s and Magnum ice creams to stop them melting in higher temperatures. Experts say there are likely two options: reducing the sugar in the ice cream, or adding some modified starch
If the company can solve the conundrum, the hope is this will cut the carbon footprint of its freezers in shops across the world by as much as 30 per cent.
Currently Ben & Jerry’s and Magnum ice creams are stored at -18C, but Unilever wants to keep it at -12C.
HOW COULD ICE CREAM BE MADE TO STOP MELTING IN WARMER CLIMES?
Scientists for Unilever want to create a new recipe for Ben & Jerry’s and Magnum ice creams to stop them melting in higher temperatures.
The company wants to be able to store them in freezers at -12C, rather than -18C, to cut its carbon footprint and save money, but hasn’t revealed how it will do it.
Experts say there are likely two options:
1. Reduce the sugar in the ice cream
Hardness of ice cream depends on how much sugar and lactose is dissolved in the water. Take out some sugar, and the treat will freeze at a higher temperature.
2. Add some modified starch
This would wrap around the water and fat to give the ice cream more stability at warmer temperatures.
The reason it is soft and scoopable at sub-zero temperatures is because sugar lowers the freezing temperature of the water they are dissolved in, an expert at the University of Guelph in Canada explained.
Professor Douglas Goff, who teaches courses on ice cream, told the Times: ‘What controls the amount of ice at any given temperature (hence the hardness) is how much sugars, and lactose from the milk solids, is dissolved in the water.
‘Since sugars don’t dissolve in ice, if there is less water, there is more sugar dissolved in it, hence it stays unfrozen until the temperature is lowered a bit more.’
He added: ‘So if your goal is to make harder ice cream, you simply use less sugar. Of course, now you have to rebalance the sweetness.’
That is one option, but co-founder of food development experts Bingham & Jones says there would be another way.
David Jones added that the key to stopping ice cream melting at higher temperatures would be to ‘lock in the water’.
‘The way to do that would be with some kind of modified starch or gums that would wrap themselves around the water and the fat and give it stability,’ he told the Telegraph.
‘It’s all about stability.’
Mr Jones said the benefit of doing this, rather than trying to take away sugar, is that the starch wouldn’t necessarily change the taste of the ice cream because most are soluble and wouldn’t impair flavour.
He explained that adding starch could potentially increase the cost of production, but this might be negated by a saving on the cost of energy.
Unilever has been working on the idea for around a decade.
Most recently it has been trialling warmer freezers in Germany, and will soon kick off new tests of its revamped recipes in Indonesia.
Goal: The aim is to make the cold treats stay solid for longer in warmer conditions as part of a drive to save energy and slash the carbon footprint of the brands’ owner, Unilever
Vision: British consumer giant Unilever has not disclosed exactly how it will make the new ice cream, but experts believe the answer is likely to lie in either using more starch, or removing some of the sugar
The German study was aimed at discovering which ice creams would potentially need to be reformulated, while the Indonesian tests will include melting point observations and taste tests of the new formulations.
Andrew Sztehlo, the company’s chief research and development officer, told the Wall Street Journal: ‘When my boss initially said, “Why don’t we just do this?” I said, “You’re crazy, it’s just not possible.”‘
If successful, Unilever is considering sharing the technology with other brands whose products are stocked in its freezers.
The reason for this is that a stumbling block to the company’s vision is that many retailers use its freezers to store other brands’ ice cream products as well, which could lead to melting problems.
Unilever has insisted it is not attempting to run competitors out of the market, which is why it wants to share any new formula it comes up with.
This would allow other companies to join in on the energy-saving efforts.
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