Friday, September 03, 2004

SCIENCE: Get Your Licks

To most of us, ice cream is merely delicious. But to a food engineering professor it's a phenomenon of physics.

One enemy of the creaminess is heat shock. "When you take ice cream out of the freezer and let it sit for a while, and some of the ice cream melts, and then you put it back in the freezer…we have more ice that's being formed, but not in the form of new ice crystals. It's forming around the existing ice crystals, so all the remaining ice crystals get bigger," says one scientist. "The ultimate outcome is that you feel ice crystals in your mouth when you eat the ice cream, and that's not a good eating experience."

Now, a new technique from Switzerland for battling heat shock is making ice cream that can stay creamy longer. Described in Discover Magazine, the patented process pioneered by Erich Windhab, a food engineering professor at the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, churns and pumps the ice cream out of an extruder at lower temperatures and with smaller ice crystals than the traditional process allows.


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