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Ice Cream Tips, Tricks, & Shortcuts DIY

stabilizers in homemade ice cream


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Home Cooking Ice Cream Tips, Tricks, & Shortcuts DIY

stabilizers in homemade ice cream

calumin | | Jan 21, 2013 12:24 PM

I did a couple tests yesterday to see the effect of stabilizers in homemade ice cream. I've pasted the results below, in case anyone is interested.

I've wondered why it's so hard to make ice cream at home that has the same creaminess & texture as store-bought premium ice cream, and whether it's possible to counteract this inexpensively. The fact is that commercial ice cream manufacturing uses better equipment to prevent ice crystals from forming and as a result homemade ice cream tastes good right when it's made but it can be brittle and icy after it's hardened in the freezer.

Stabilizers can help deal with this issue. People call egg yolks a natural stabilizer but I've never found it to be sufficient to counteract this effect. I've also tried gelatin which I've found to be disgusting in the final product.

The test below looked at the effect of guar gum and carrageenan. Both are natural stabilizers -- carrageenan is an extract of seaweed, and guar gum is the ground seed of a guar bean. I added purposely high amounts of each ingredient more to see how each ingredient affects the product rather than to try to find the exact right amount on the first attempt.

The results showed that guar gum (in excess) makes the ice cream very elastic, almost taffy-like. Carrageenan makes the ice cream more like a suspension. Either one in large doses make ice cream unpleasant, but both tests led to a hardened ice cream that was more scoopable and less icy than when just using egg yolks or no stabilizer at all. Using both in combination and in small doses could be helpful for home ice cream.

At some point I'll try another combination which uses egg yolks & a custard, and a smaller combination of these stabilizers. I also may try xanthan gum & locust bean gum to see if their effects are any different.


Ice Cream Stabilizer Taste Test

To test
Sample 1:
2 cups whole milk
¾ cup heavy cream
¾ cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
¾ tsp guar gum

Sample 2:
2 cups whole milk
¾ cup heavy cream
¾ cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
3/8 tsp guar gum
3/8 tsp carrageenan (iota)

Preparation method:
Heat milk and cream to near boiling, then add sugar and vanilla.
Let cool. While cooling, add stabilizer & whisk to thoroughly incorporate.
Continue cooling overnight in refrigerator, then prepare as per machine instructions

Test Results:
A. Inspection of mix right after adding stabilizer:
Sample 1 (guar gum only): taffy-like
Sample 2 (guar gum and carrageenan): gelatinous- similar to the effect of adding gelatin

B. Inspection after ice cream machine preparation is complete but before hardening in freezer:
Sample 1 (guar gum only):
- visual: very smooth, consistency almost taffy-like. Similar to some Italian gelatos, but not as dense
- taste / mouthfeel: very chewy, & elastic.

Sample 2 (guar gum and carrageenan):
- visual: smooth, consistency marshmallow-like. Reminds me of cheap supermarket ice milk
- taste / mouthfeel: soft and pliant.

C. Inspection after hardening in freezer:
Sample 1 (guar gum only):
- visual: easy to scoop. Ice cream very pliant (can push into mix & it will push back). Feels similar to plaster – ice cream crystals are held together as if by glue
- taste: Good feel on palate. some loss of taste (e.g. sugar less pronounced, ice may be more pronounced on palate)

Sample 2 (guar gum and carrageenan):
- visual: easy to scoop. Similar to store-bought hardened ice cream (although more strongly bound)
- taste: gummy. Flavor is more pronounced than with Sample 1 (can taste more milk / sugar / flavoring.)