Since its invention, ice cream has been a popular treat for individuals of all ages. Today, its ubiquitous availability speaks to its enduring place in culture.
According to the International Dairy Foods Association, the average American consumes nearly 23 pounds of ice cream every year. Based on a high level of demand, manufacturers in the ice cream market have diversified significantly in recent decades, including with the growth of alternative formulations such as low-fat varieties. For both established manufacturers and newcomers to the industry, the key problem to solve is how to develop product formulations that are cost-effective to make and pleasing to consumers.
These manufacturers focus on the formulation phase. While manufacturing methods and tools are essential factors, the element that most fundamentally impacts the quality of the finished product is the formula.
Recently, manufacturers have begun to investigate the role that milk proteins play in the creation of pleasing ice cream products. Are there benefits to supplementing the natural proteins found in milk with concentrated products during production? To answer that question, explore why proteins matter in ice cream manufacturing.
The Key Roles Protein Plays in Ice Cream
Role One: Emulsification
The first and most fundamental steps of ice cream manufacturing are the homogenization and emulsification of fat. Ensuring that the emulsion remains stable and does not break is critical; otherwise, the ice cream product will fail. Soluble milk proteins can, to an extent, act as stabilizers in the emulsification process. However, it is vital not to over-stabilize the mixture, which may introduce undesirable properties into the ice cream.
Role Two: Aeration
The unique physical properties of milk proteins, including casein micelles, transform them into a surfactant. As a result, they drop surface tension and promote the formation of foams. The foaming properties of milk proteins give them a critical role in the overrun process in ice cream manufacturing. The introduction of air to increase product volume by 30 to 50% is critical to the proper blending of ingredients. Milk proteins keep the solution stable and permit thorough whipping for a smoother, creamier product.
Role Three: Solution Stability
As the protein content of an ice cream formula rises, so does the likelihood of a smaller size of ice crystals in the resultant product. Ice crystal formation has a significant impact on the final qualities of a product, such as how it melts and how it feels in the mouth. Proteins not only reduce the size of ice particles but also contribute to the development of a more stable matrix.
Challenges in Ice Cream Manufacturing
With an understanding of the roles that soluble milk proteins play in the production of ice cream, consider some of the common issues that manufacturers encounter. With the appropriate formulation and additives, it is possible to mitigate some of the following concerns:
- Issues with the mouthfeel and consumability of the finished product.
- Challenges involving the production of specialty products, such as high-protein or low-fat ice cream, including chalkiness resulting from the improper hydration of protein powders.
- Stability during formulation and shelf-life following production. The manufacturing process and formula have a significant impact on how long an ice cream product may remain on the shelf while retaining optimum characteristics.
It is challenging to achieve the appropriate balance while leveraging the emulsifying, aerating, and stabilizing effects of milk protein. However, new and advanced products have revolutionized the industry.
IdaPlus 1085: A Milk Protein Concentrate (MPC) Well-Suited for Ice Cream
At Idaho Milk Products, one of our flagship solutions is the IdaPlus 1085, a calcium-reduced MPC produced from fresh skim milk. A highly functional protein product, IdaPlus 1085 is rich in soluble milk casein proteins. Produced through gentle ultrafiltration technology, it maintains the same protein structures found in natural milk.
When manufacturers add it to their ice cream formulations, IdaPlus 1085 demonstrates the following properties:
- Robust emulsification, allowing for finer control over the viscosity of the pre-frozen mixture and the overall stability of the formula.
- Superior aeration, allowing for the easier production of high-overrun products, which results in smoother textures and creamier consistencies.
- Stronger gels resulting in improved water holding, smaller ice crystals, reduced dependence on polysaccharide stabilizers and cleaner labels.
Together, these properties make IdaPlus 1085 extremely well-suited to low-cal, low-fat ice cream options in which lowered fat content leads to challenges in creating a thicker emulsion.
Explore the Possibilities with Idaho Milk Products
New milk protein concentrates offer manufacturers the opportunity to put their food formulation processes on the cutting edge. Idaho Milk Products continually invests in research to develop new products while pouring time and effort into the production of high-quality natural MPC powders, including IdaPlus 1085.
For more information about how to incorporate these products into your formulas, or to discuss the ordering process, please contact us today.