|Ice cream recipes have changed considerably since the days of old fashioned ice cream parlors. We’re now subjected to a slew of toxic ingredients in almost every type of ice cream found in parlors, restaurants and grocery stores. From economy to premium brands, there is often no escape from the chemical concoctions in our favorite frozen treats. So what ingredients should you avoid and why are they so deadly?
By weight, ice cream is primarily composed of water (from milk and cream). The lethality of current formulations don’t come from these basic constituents, but from the gamut of sweetners, flavorings, emulsifiers and stabilizers. After all, the industry relies on increasing shelf life and having the most smooth or creamy ice cream over time, so preserving these consistencies is the key to sales. By volume, 30% to 50% of ice cream is air whipped into the mix during the early stages of the freezing process. “There are no real chemical reactions that take place when you make ice cream,” says H. Douglas Goff, an ice-cream expert and professor in the department of food science at the University of Guelph, in Ontario, “but that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of chemistry.”
Richard W. Hartel, professor of food engineering at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, explains that “when you bite into ice cream, how the flavor is released into the mouth probably is a function of structure.” Initially, the milk fat exists as tiny globules in the milky starting mixture. Milk proteins on the globules’ surface work as an emulsifier to keep the fat in solution. To make the ice-cream structure, these fats need to be destabilized so that they coalesce into larger networks. “When two partially crystallized fat globules come together, like in ice cream, they form a partially coalesced structure,” Hartel explains. “We sort of envision them as grape clusters, with some connectivity, but the crystalline fat prevents complete coalescence.”