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Gourmet Food WorldBaking and PastryGelato and Ice Cream IngredientsA Guide To Ice Cream and Gelato Stabilizers and Emulsifiers

A Guide To Ice Cream and Gelato Stabilizers and Emulsifiers

by Gourmet Food World

Ice Cream and Gelato Stabilizers and Emulsifiers

They are the most controversial part of ice cream making. Traditionalists denounce them thinking everything should be “natural”, and molecular gastronomes thank them for scientific solutions to their problems. The truth is most of stabilizers and emulsifiers are natural; use them correctly and they will certainly improve your frozen treats.

Ice Cream

As in any recipe, to make sure ice cream keeps on a hot summer's day, some magic is needed, so stabilizers play an important role. But what are ice cream stabilizers? Put simply: stabilizers are ingredients that add viscosity. The more viscous a liquid is, the “thicker” it is. In other words, they thicken water. The most common ones used in ice creams are guar gum, cellulose gum and carob bean gum. They are used to reduce ice crystal growth, deliver flavour cleanly, increase smoothness, body and creaminess and slow down melting. They also help hold the air bubble structure together and give the ice cream a better texture. Emulsifiers keep the ice cream smooth and help with the distribution of the fat molecules.

Ice Cream

Gums are the most powerful, flexible and the most useful stabilizers available. They suppress the growth of ice crystals better than any other ingredient without extinguishing other flavors and are almost flavorless themselves. The good thing is they are so powerful we can use them in small amounts. Since the 1950's Guar gum, derived from the guar plant, has been used as a perfect stabilizer giving more body to the final ice cream, and it works really well with LBG so they are usually used combined.

Carrageenan is an additive derived from red seaweed which often shows up on a long list of ingredients that might include guar gum, carob gum, and locust gum.

Ice Cream Emulsifiers

Emulsifiers keep everything together over time, making sure the texture of the ice cream keeps. Egg yolks are the most common emulsifier, and they work, but they're not the best. A common - and better - emulsifier for ice cream is soy lecithin, which can be derived from soybeans, sunflowers and rapeseed. Soy lecithin has a neutral taste, and also allows you to make egg-less ice cream.  Another popularly used ice cream emulsifier in the ice cream industry are Mono and Diglicerides, used together with Polysorbate 80 These are all used as emulsifiers, so using those ingredients allows ice cream producers to save time and money, skipping the step of making the custard.

Ice Cream

Carefully designed mixtures of emulsifiers and stabilizers, together with the right recipe, help ensure a high-quality eating experience that brings consumers back for more.

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