Recent Advances in Ice Cream Science and Technology: The University of Guelph’s Ice Cream Centennial Symposium

Text by By Prof. H. Douglas Goff

The University of Guelph celebrated a significant milestone in 2014, the 100th anniversary of the Ice Cream Short Course. This article provides a synopsis of the industry-based symposium, focused on recent advances in ice cream ingredients, processing and marketing, that was held following the course to mark this important milestone in Canadian ice cream education. This course is the longest continuously running course at the University of Guelph and the only one of its kind in Canada. It has trained more than 3,000 people from around the globe in the science and art of ice cream making in its 100-year history.

Ice Cream Sweeteners

43-45_AroundTheCountryThe first speaker of the Centennial Symposium was Mariana Macovei, Senior Technical Service Technologist with Ingredion Canada Inc. in Mississauga, speaking on Advances in Ice Cream Sweeteners. Canadian regulations allow for the use of natural sugars and starch hydrolysates in ice cream but products sweetened with sugar alcohols or high-potency sweeteners have to be labeled as frozen desserts. The sweetener system has to deliver appropriate intensity and temporal profile of sweetness, but also appropriate freezing point depression, body/texture and total solids. No Sugar Added products are an important category to many consumers. Those sweetened with maltitol syrups, which are low in glycemic index, can match the freezing curves of mixtures of sucrose and corn starch hydrolysates quite well. If necessary, sweetness responses can be adjusted with either synthetic high potency sweeteners, such as sucralose, aspartame or acesulfame-K, or with high Reb-A glycoside stevia, an all-natural plant source of high potency sweetness. In the carbohydrates area, there is also considerable new interest in the short-chain fructo-oligosacchardies as a prebiotic soluble fibre processed enzymatically from a non-GMO cane sugar. In addition to acting as a dietary fibre for Claims purposes, these can be used for texture modification, flavour and sweetness modification and freezing point depression control due to their low molecular weight, especially in low or non-fat applications.

Ice Cream Stabilizers

Finn Hjort Christensen, Group Manager, Ice Cream Application, with DuPont Nutrition & Health, Brabrand Denmark, addressed the topic of Advances in Ice Cream Stabilizers. Hydrocolloid polysaccharides and emulsifiers in a stabilizer blend deliver several functionalities to frozen dessert systems related to body and texture and shelf-stability. Although gelatin and egg yolks were used in early recipes, and in some cases still today, commercial stabilizer blends have been available since the 1950s-60s with continuous advancement in ingredients and processing technologies since that time. One of the newest ingredients is propylene glycol monostearate added to stabilizer blends (IcePro) for heat shock protection. PGMS exhibits exceptional ice crystal control, both initially at the time of hardening and during subsequent temperature fluctuations. The incorporation of PGMS offers enhanced storage and distribution stability, improved consumer quality, cost reduction possibilities through elevated hardening, storage or distribution temperature requirements, and the opportunity for modified low-solids (hence high moisture), nutrition-oriented (low fat, low calorie, low sugar) formulations. Another recent stabilizer technology has been designed for the increasing artisanal market, where cold-solubility is required, homogenization is often not performed and optimal textures are required to offset limits in processing technologies (e.g., batch freezing, inadequate hardening). Christensen also demonstrated a new stabilizer system for water ices with large inclusions, e.g., fruit pieces, prepared in top-filled molding equipment where settling of inclusions before freezing can often be a problem. For such applications, the incorporation of gellan gum into the stabilizer blends has shown to provide suspending properties without giving high mix viscosity. Future trends for hydrocolloid/emulsifier stabilizer blends include perceived naturalness, clean labeling, sustainability, nutritional delivery of dietary fibres and satiety, and continually-evolving textural profiles.

Ice Cream Flavours

Azeem Mateen, Marketing Manager, Sweet Flavours – North America with Sensient Flavours, Hoffman Estates IL, presented an update on Advances in Ice Cream Flavours. Unique Canadian characteristics include strong international influence, significant number of younger immigrant adults and diverse tastes allowing for strong flavour innovation. The highest age group segment of the market is 25 to 34-year-olds, 77% of whom eat ice cream. This group also represents the highest age segment of gelato consumers. This group also consumes a more diverse flavour spectrum of products than do older age segments, opening opportunities for a wide array of new flavour introductions in Canada. Some recent examples of these include cinnamon bun, cupcake, caramel macchiato, pumpkin pie, espresso, cherry amaretto, crème brulee and dulce de leche. New flavour trends include healthier flavour offerings (e.g., natural fruit and vegetable-based flavours, Greek-style yogurt-based products, use of plant-derived natural, high-potency sweeteners), innovative twists on familiar flavours (e.g., sweet and salty pairings, spice blends, florals, drink-based flavours like Margarita or liqueur-based flavours like Amaretto), and enhanced textures through flavouring ingredients. In the texture area, crunchy, creamy, soft and smooth descriptors are all on the rise in new product introductions. One new product promotes “gooey” chocolate brownie. The texture of inclusions can often be preserved with edible coatings such as chocolate-coated biscuit pieces. The use of “old-fashioned” and “nostalgic” descriptors is also on the rise in new products like maple taffy or real mint leaves with chocolate fudge or cake-style flavours like carrot cake or baked Alaska. Flavour is a key driver in consumer choice so flavour advancements offer a wealth of opportunity for ice cream manufacturers, to take advantage of indulgence, hybrid or cross-over flavours, nostalgia, textured flavours and seasonal specialties.

Ice Cream Processing

Advances in Ice Cream Processing was covered by Gustav Korsholm, Ice Cream Americas, TetraPak Inc, Vernon Hills, IL. Considerations for processing line investment should include securing lowest product cost at highest quality, minimizing consumer complaints and give-away, minimizing start-up and rework losses, personnel and product safety, ease of operation and cleaning, line flexibility and customer support. A recent advancement has been the use of non-toxic, low cost and energy efficient CO2 as a refrigerant for new installations. Advances in ice cream mix blending equipment include improved mixing efficiency with increased flexibility for a wider range of dry and liquid ingredients through combinations of low and high shear and vacuum blending to reduce foaming during powder incorporation. Advances in continuous freezers include further waste and rework reduction at start-up and shut-down and during flavour changeovers, accuracy and product quality with discharge pumps on each filling lane, and power and energy efficiency. Particulate ingredient dosing has been improved with more sophisticated hopper and auger designs, more dosing volume control with feedback from/to the continuous freezer and multiple ingredient capabilities. In new filling equipment flexibility, safety, capacity and fill accuracy are the goals. Personnel safety has been greatly improved with enhanced guarding on equipment, designed to allow for easy package restocking. Spiral freezer advancements have focused on energy efficiency of airflow, sequential evaporator defrost and multiple drum drives for backup. Extrusion lines are now pushed to >700 pieces/minute; increased flexibility and improved cleanability are the main focus for advance. Molding lines continue to focus on reduced water usage and enhanced flexibility, for example filling heads for particulates. Future expectations for processing equipment include more sophisticated controls on smaller-scale equipment, higher capacities in larger-scale equipment, more automation, enhanced product and personnel safety and reduced product cost.

Ice Cream Promotion

John Leveris, Assistant Director Market Development – Food Service with Dairy Farmers of Canada (DFC), Montreal, QC, provided an overview of Ice Cream Marketing from DFC. The focus from DFC has been promotion of 100% Canadian milk, the symbol of which has been consistent with consumer perceptions of high quality, purity and origin. Ice cream sales have trended down in Canada due to the introduction of frozen desserts made with tropical oils rather than milkfat, and also due to consumer concerns around fat and sugar. Hard ice cream production has dropped from a high of 316 million litres in 2005, before the introduction of frozen desserts, to 157 million litres in 2013. Therefore, DFC’s marketing programs since 2011 have aimed to increase sales of Canadian ice cream brands that utilize the 100% Canadian Milk symbol on pack and to educate and encourage consumers to look for the 100% Canadian Milk symbol and to look for the words “Ice Cream” on the package label.

Celebrating our Success

The Centennial Symposium concluded with a gala luncheon during which financial donors toward new ice cream processing equipment for the University of Guelph’s food processing pilot plant were recognized. These included the Ontario Dairy Council, the Dairy Farmers of Ontario, TetraPak Inc., the Colwyn and Jean Rich Foundation, Food Specialties and the OAC Dean’s Office Food Leaders Fund. The lab has now been equipped with a new TetraPak S700 continuous freezer, ingredient feeder and ripple pump, to replace 50-year-old equipment. This opens the door for expanded future use of the ice cream processing facilities, perhaps to manufacture ice cream for sale on campus. Further equipment investment would be required to make that a reality. Continental Ingredients Canada and TFI Canada/Taylor Freezers were also recognized for their financial support of awards presented during the annual Ice Cream Course.

Entrepreneurial Opportunities

Finally, Ryan Berley of the Franklin Fountain, Philadelphia, PA, presented his experiences at restoring a 19th century building and opening, in 2004, an authentic early to mid-20th century ice cream parlour and soda fountain. Ryan also discussed the current market for and interest in ice cream memorabilia, as celebrated through the Ice Screamers Association of Lancaster, PA. This presentation showed how the history of ice cream can be celebrated and nostalgia turned into a business and marketing opportunity. In the Canadian ice cream industry entrepreneurism seems to be strong so the combination of an excellent quality, authentic product together with turning its purchase into a true nostalgic experience could be a recipe for success.

The 2015 University of Guelph Ice Cream Course will be held Dec. 7-11 in Guelph, ON. Information will be available at www.uoguelph.ca/foodscience .

Further details on technical aspects of ice cream ingredients, manufacture, structure and quality can be found in: Goff, H. D. and R. W. Hartel. 2013, Ice Cream, 7th ed. Springer, New York.

 

Prof. H. Douglas Goff, Ph.D.,
Dept. of Food Science, University of Guelph
dgoff@uoguelph.ca

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