Melting Away Limits: Investigating A No-Melt Ice Cream

Melting Away Limits: Investigating A No-Melt Ice Cream

In the midst of summer's heat, ice cream stands as a beloved treat. Yet, its joy is often fleeting, melting into sticky spills on hands and clothes. Cameron Wicks, a PhD student in UW–Madison's Food Science Department, is pioneering a solution to this age-old dilemma.

Traditional ice cream melts quickly due to its structure, but Wicks is exploring a breakthrough technology: integrating polyphenols — natural compounds found in foods like green tea and berries — into ice cream. These polyphenols interact with the ice cream's fats and proteins, creating a network that resists melting at room temperature. This innovation promises ice cream that retains its shape for over four hours, akin to a no-melt formula.

Through accurate tests, Wicks observed how varying levels of polyphenol extract affected viscosity and melting rates of ice cream. Collaborating with experts in polyphenol chemistry and ice cream science, Wicks documented microscopic changes in ice crystal formation, further unraveling the mechanism behind polyphenols' stabilizing effect.

This research not only enhances ice cream's sensory appeal but also explores sustainable alternatives to traditional stabilizers like guar gum and carrageenan. By potentially replacing these with natural polyphenols, derived from widely recognized sources, Wicks envisions a future where ice cream remains delectable from production to consumption, even in regions with limited refrigeration.

While acknowledging that consumers expect ice cream to melt, Wicks looks forward to exploring optimal polyphenol levels that maintain flavor integrity. Ultimately, her work underscores the complex science behind ice cream, aiming to improve food sustainability and global distribution.

Source: University of Wisconsin–Madison Press Release

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