Slow-melting ice cream has just been invented by British scientists. Researchers have announced that they came up with an ingredient which would allow ice cream to become smoother and more resistant to melting.
The new invention is actually the BsIA protein, which is encountered naturally in some foods and already used in Southeast Asian cuisine. Experts from the Scottish universities of Edinburgh and Dundee managed to re-create this component, by using friendly bacteria called Bacillus subtilis.
Microbial communities have been using the protein as a defense mechanism. The molecule covers the outer surface of the community, creating a ‘bacterial raincoat’ which is basically a water-repelling film that protects the bacteria from other potential attackers in the environment.
Initially, the aim wasn’t to improve ice cream, but simply to analyze how BsIA behaved, but scientists soon identified practical uses for its unique characteristics.The ingredient could be commercialized within the next 3-5 years and promises to ensure a perfect combination of the ice cream’s components.
‘The protein binds together the air, fat and water in ice cream, creating a super-smooth consistency’, explained researchers from the University of Edinburgh.
The recipe allows gelato to last longer and to melt more slowly at high temperatures. The newly-developed protein attaches itself to fat droplets and air bubbles, allowing them to stick together for longer.
So far, researchers haven’t yet sampled the lab-produced ice cream, but they expect it to taste and feel just the same as traditional one, because the molecule that has been used is in low quantities and the structure remains the same.
Scientists are confident that replacing the regular emulsifier with this new natural additive will improve ice cream not just for consumers, but also for manufacturers. The component allows the cream to keep its smooth creamy texture while being kept refrigerated, without forming sharp ice crystals.
Naturally turning ice cream melt-resistant could reduce the presence of other harmful ingredients currently used for achieving the perfect taste and feel. This has the potential to reinvent ice cream into a healthier type of dessert, with fewer calories and less saturated fat. The protein could also be added to products such as mayonnaise or chocolate mousse, to turn them into low-calorie foods.
The findings will be published soon and researchers have already applied for a patent, so that they can start partnerships with food companies eager to use this new additive in their recipes.
It is claimed that this discovery could make childhood memories of gelato melting and coating our fingers a thing of the past. However, this may not necessarily be good news for the most nostalgic of us who still recall the sticky, running ice cream of our youth with a smile.
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