31 Aug 2015

Ice cream just got cooler

2:53 pm on 31 August 2015

A new ingredient developed by scientists in Scotland could mean that ice cream lovers can enjoy their treats longer before they melt.

Chocolate ice cream (file photo).

Chocolate ice cream (file photo). Photo: AFP

A naturally occurring protein can be used to create ice cream which stays frozen for longer in hot weather.

The scientists estimate that the slow melting product could become available in three to five years.

The development could also allow products to be made with lower levels of saturated fat and fewer calories.

Teams at the Universities of Edinburgh and Dundee have discovered that the protein, known as BsIA, works by binding together the air, fat and water in ice cream.

It is also said to prevent gritty ice crystals from forming - ensuring a fine, smooth texture.

Friendly bacteria

Professor Cait MacPhee, of the University of Edinburgh's school of physics and astronomy, who led the project, said: "We're excited by the potential this new ingredient has for improving ice cream, both for consumers and for manufacturers."

The team developed a method of producing the new protein - which occurs naturally in some foods - in friendly bacteria and it works by adhering to fat droplets and air bubbles, making them more stable in a mixture.

They believe using the ingredient could benefit manufacturers as it can be processed without impacting on performance and can be produced from sustainable raw materials.

The use of the protein was developed with support from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.

Dr Nicola Stanley-Wall, of the University of Dundee, said: "It has been fun working on the applied use of a protein that was initially identified due to its practical purpose in bacteria."