The scoop on ice cream testing
Wondering how texture analysis can benefit your team?
This summer while waiting in line at your local scoop shop, you may have a lot to ponder.
Do you want ice cream, gelato, frozen yogurt, sherbet, or sorbet? Will you choose a cone or a dish? What about sprinkles, nuts, chocolate sauce, or candy add-ins? Back in the lab, ice cream manufacturers also have a lot to ponder when developing, testing, and reformulating their products. Using our texture analyzers, it’s possible to test several textural properties of ice cream including firmness/hardness, spreadability, and adhesiveness.
What probes are best for testing ice cream?
While there are many different kinds and flavors of ice cream, it’s important to distinguish between two types: those with particulates, e.g. cookie dough pieces, chocolate chips, fruit chunks, and those without. When testing a uniform ice cream such as French vanilla or plain chocolate, we recommend using a very long knife blade so that the probe can go deeply into machine packed quart or pint containers. If ice cream is contained in a shallow container, the TA-43 (or a slightly narrower version) is perfect.
Quantifying the firmness/hardness of ice cream containing particulates can be challenging. The number, size, shape, and distribution of particulates are usually randomly distributed within each container. While it is relatively easy to quantify the firmness of the ice cream matrix on its own using standard penetration probes, it doesn’t work as well on some of our favorite flavors such as mint chip and cookie dough. We typically recommend a TA-65 multiple puncture probe for testing ice cream with particulates. The use of a multiple puncture probe for a non-uniform sample offers increased reproducibility over single puncture probes. As with most applications, we can develop customized probes to meet your precise testing requirements.
Keeping your cool: temperature measurement options
With ice cream testing, it’s important to minimize temperature differences. An excellent method of controlling temperature during testing is available via our thermal cabinets. Thermal cabinets solve the problems usually associated with the testing of hot and cold products such as molten cheese, ice cream, adhesives or waxes. Samples can be allowed to equilibrate to the required temperature before testing is performed within the cabinet. Read more about our temperature management options here. Other methods of managing temperature differences between samples include removing the samples from frozen storage just prior to testing and using larger sized samples and deep penetration to your advantage.
Don’t forget the cone: The Crispy Cone Rig
Our texture analyzers are perfect for testing various properties of ice cream but did you also know that you can test the cone too? The TA.XTPlus‘ Crispy Cone Testing Rig helps manufacturers measuring key textural parameters such as brittleness, toughness and crispiness of cones. The Ice Cream Support Rig can be adjusted to accommodate all cone varieties, including waffle, flat-bottomed and sugar cones, and is supplied with two ice cream scoop simulators for use with varying cone rim diameters. The rig has been designed to accommodate a very specific range of test samples.
Want to find out more about testing ice cream and its delicious add-ins with our texture analyzers?
Request our “Dairy Products Application Overview” to see the wide range of applications that the TA.XTPlus* can test.
- Use our application study request form to see how to test the following with your texture analyzer: Cream cheese, ice cream, spreadability, strawberries, cherry pie filing, tofu, fruit preserves, fruit fillings, ice cream tested with a knife blade, and ice tested with a multiple puncture probe.
- Check out the work of Bruce Tharp’s recent book “Tharp & Young On Ice Cream: An Encyclopedic Guide to Ice Cream Science and Technology” and his excellent short course “On Ice Cream”.
- Visit our dairy industry papers section on our website for a list of papers on ice cream and more.