Naturally-occurring protein has melting ice cream problem licked
There are few things that go as welltogether as an ice cream cone and a hot summer's day, but it can be a raceagainst the clock to get the sweet treat down before it turns into a stickymess cascading over your hands. Such disasters could become a thing of the pastthanks to scientists in Scotland who have discovered a naturally-occurringprotein that can be added to ice cream to make it melt more slowly.
Researchers from the Universities ofEdinburgh and Dundee discovered that a protein called BslA can bind togetherthe air, fat and water in ice cream, thereby slowing the melting process andcreating a smooth texture and consistency like that found in expensive icecreams. The protein is a bacterial hydrophobin, which is a family ofcysteine-rich proteins expressed by filamentous fungi – aka mold.
That may not sound like something you'dwant added to a serving of Rocky Road, by the researchers have found a way toproduce the protein using "friendly bacteria." When added to icecream, the protein adheres to fat droplets and air bubbles, resulting in a morestable mixture that takes longer to melt.
Because of this, the researchers say theprotein, which can be produced from sustainable raw materials and processedwithout loss of performance, would result on energy savings for manufacturers and suppliers as the ice creamwould not require the same level of refrigeration throughout its supply chain.
The protein could also allow for the development ofice cream with lower levels of saturated fat and prevent theformation of ice crystals that get bigger and crunchier with every partial meltand re-freeze that currently occurs when you pull the tub out of the freezerfor a serve and put it back in.
The researchers believe slow-melt ice creammade with the new ingredient could be in store freezers within three to five years.
Source: University of Dundee