Stabilizing Ice Cream

Cindy Hazen, Contributing Editor Comments
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The more-restrictive term “stabilizers” traditionally refers to viscosifying ingredients in the ice cream mix, such as hydrocolloids and proteins. “Examples are guar gum, carrageenan, locust bean gum, cellulose-based ingredients, alginates and gelatin,” Klemaszewski says. “Milk proteins also contribute to the functionality of these ingredients, either by their own interactions with water or synergistic interactions with other stabilizing ingredients. Stabilizers primarily work by controlling water in an ice cream mix, thereby affecting mix viscosity, texture, slowing ice crystal growth, improving air incorporation, melting properties and preventing mix separation.”

Stabilizer blends often include mineral-based ingredients such as calcium sulfate and phosphates. These ingredients aren’t typically considered stabilizers, but do affect ice-cream-mix functionality. “Calcium sulfate is used to make a drier ice cream, while phosphates are used to prevent the churning out of fat and to stabilize proteins during heat processing,” says Klemaszewski.

Ingredient concerns

Stabilizer selection begins with a clear understanding of the end product. “High-butterfat and high-solids formulations require less physical stability than lower-fat or nonfat formulations with less total solids,” Venables says. “Many times, lower quality and less-costly options can be used effectively in these higher-fat, higher-solid products. Formulators must also consider how their product will be distributed and stored throughout the country. Poor freezer storage and/or altitude differentials from the point of production to the shelf often require more-specialized stabilization mechanisms to ensure quality.”

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