The end of ice cream ice crystals?

The end of ice cream ice crystals?

Here’s a headline that caught my eye: “Edible Antifreeze to Offer Ice Cream Advances.”

Some people devote their lives to finding cancer cures, others spend their days exploring the solar system, and then there are those who burn the midnight oil while pondering the puzzle of how to reduce the amount of ice crystals in ice cream.

We all have our niche.

If you were busy over the holidays and didn’t get a chance to browse the December 26, 2007, issue of Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, then you may have missed Srinivasan Damodaran’s article about the inhibition of ice cream ice crystals.

Let’s start with the good news. Prof. Damodaran writes: “Molecular modeling of model gelatin peptides revealed that they form an oxygen triad plane at the C-terminus with oxygen-oxygen distances similar to those found in ice nuclei.”

And here’s the clincher: “Binding of this oxygen triad plane to the prism face of ice nuclei via hydrogen bonding appears to be the mechanism by which gelatin hydrolysate might be inhibiting ice crystal growth in ice cream mix.”

I know what you’re thinking: “Hydrogen bonding! Why didn’t I think of that!?”

According to NutraIngredients-USA, this development might help boost the moribund ice cream market in Western Europe. Apparently, from Barcelona to Normandy, Western Europeans are just not increasing their ice cream intake.

Or at least they’re not eating their ice cream fast enough. Because you know what happens when ice cream sits in the freezer: Ice crystals form and the ice cream turns gummy. And then there’s only one thing to do: pitch it. Unless it’s 1:00 A.M. and Baskin Robbins is closed. Then you have to eat it.

(Just kidding. Try blueberries in yoghurt with acidophilus cultures – a much healthier treat.)

It remains to be seen if Prof. Damodaran’s hydrogen bonding technique can be employed on a wide scale to cut back on ice cream ice crystals. But it’s reassuring to know he’s out there working on this.

“Edible Antifreeze to Offer Ice Cream Advances” NutraIngredients-USA, 1/10/08,
“Inhibition of Ice Crystal Growth in Ice Cream Mix by Gelatin Hydrolysate” Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, Vol. 55, No. 26, 12/26/07,