The Science of Ice Cream - WorldOfChemicals

The Science of Ice Cream

Category : General Chemicals
Published by : Data Research Analyst, Worldofchemicals.com

If you think about an ice cream than it is actually a quite complex and multi-faceted composition. Ice cream need to be solid, still soft, and need to be preferably stay this way while melting slowly.

What is ice-cream?

Ice cream is a frozen food which is sweet and is typically eaten as a snack or as a dessert. Ice-creams are generally made up of dairy products, such as cream and milk and is then often combined with other ingredients, fruits or flavors.

The reasons behind delicate ice cream is conclusively a food chemistry matter.

Basic components of ice cream:

Most of the ice creams consists emulsion of following five basic components:

  • Ice Crystals:

Ice crystals are created when the water-content starts to freeze. Ice is then put in the ice-cream to give it solidity and body. How fine or grainy the ice-cream turns out is dependent on the size of the size of the crystals. Therefore the objective is to keep the size of the crystals down as much as possible.

  • Sweeteners

Generally distinct sugars, honey or syrups are used as a sweeteners. Sweeteners adds sweetness as well as improves texture and body of the ice-cream.

  • Fat

Fat is often in the form of butter and is added to give richness and stabilize the base. Adding fat also improves density and smoothness and also increases flavours.

  • Air

Air is the invisible ingredient in the ice-cream. Around 30-50 % of the total volume of the ice-cream is made up of air. The volume of air added into the ice-cream is known as overrun. General consistency of ice-cream is the result of the tiny air cells which is whipped into the base mix. Adding lot of air to ice-cream results in melting of it quickly than the ice-cream with less air.

Basic process of ice-cream making:

  • Preparation of the base:

The first step is to make liquid ice-cream base with appropriate proportions of all the ingredients. There are lot of variations available for the balanced proportions but the most recommended balance is water 60%, sugar around 15%, non-fat milk content about 10% and 10-20% of milk fat content.

  • Pasteurisation:

Pasteurisation is the process of destroying harmful bacteria by heating the base of the ice-cream. It is an essential step for commercial ice-cream production. The base is heated to around 85 degree Celsius and then stirred.

  • Homogenisation:

Homogenisation is done for better breaking up and dispersion of fat droplets for enhancing fat emulsion in the ice-cream base. Homogenisation is generally done by churning the base at intense temperatures. The more uniformly distributed fats gives a thinner base which results in better capturing of air.

  • Maturing:

The ice-cream base is given time to get mature and age before it goes for freezing after gone through the previous processes. During ageing the ingredients of the base gets settled down which improves the texture, smoothness and stability. Speaking scientifically, the maturing lets the myriads of individual fat molecules solidify partially and get their surface coated by the proteins.

  • Freezing:

This is the step where the ice-cream maker is used. While churning the base is frozen and air is whipped by the dasher and then certain flavouring solids are combined.

Liquid nitrogen can be used for immediate freezing of the ice-cream bases.

  • Hardening:

You are ready with your ice-cream after freezing, but ice-cream is in reality only half-frozen and may require some more time in freezer to gain more stability. Many considers final temperature in between -10 to -12 degree Celsius for it to be ideal, now the ice-cream being firm enough to scoop well.


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