New Research Shows Berry Powder Can Stabilize Ice Cream

February 18, 2020

4 Min Read
New Research Shows Berry Powder Can Stabilize Ice Cream
USDA research found that certain freeze-dried fruit powders can perform well as stabilizers in ice cream and frozen dessert products. Image courtesy of Pixabay

To solve the age-old problems of melting and ice crystal formation in ice cream and other frozen desserts, manufacturers have turned to stabilizers with unfamiliar names like sodium alginate, iota carrageenan, and carboxymethyl cellulose. Researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (ARS) announced this month that a more natural-sounding, label friendly solution was discovered that could replace many existing ice cream and frozen dessert stabilizers. 

“We discovered that some of the freeze-dried fruit powders – especially strawberries – completely prevent the melt-down of dairy frozen desserts similar to ice cream made with whole milk, whole whipping cream, sugar, and skim milk powder,” Bilbao-Sainz, a research food technologist at the ARS Healthy Processed Foods Research Unit in Albany, CA said in an agency press release. “Freeze-dried berry powder will absorb moisture from the premix base, improving its stability and texture to the point where the frozen dessert will keep its shape even after ‘melting’ to room temperature.”

Testing conducted by Bilbao-Sainz found that the addition of 3.5% of freeze-dried strawberry, raspberry, or blackberry powder lowered the amount of available water in the products during stirring and freezing. The ingredient not only prevents the formation of ice crystals, but also slows melting. Fiber in the powder likely boosts the viscosity of the product, the research food technologist said, increasing its resistance to melting. 

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While many existing ice cream and frozen dessert stabilizers are made from natural sources, “people tend to react negatively to these unfamiliar, chemical sounding names when they appear on an ice cream label, assuming these must be artificial ingredients,” the ARS’ release said. 

The USDA said this is the first research to quantify freeze-dried fruit powders' effectiveness in ice cream and frozen desserts. Of the freeze-dried fruit powders tested by the USDA’s ARS, strawberry powder performed the best followed by raspberry powder. The agency said the foam structure collapsed on products made with blackberry powder, losing their original form, but the ingredient prevented wheying off. Blueberry powder, on the other hand, was found to be ineffective at preventing melting or ice crystal formation during refreezing, but it did prevent some wheying off. 

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