London, United Kingdom – Sticky ice cream hands could be a thing of the past with new slow-melting ice cream.
On Monday, British researchers announced their discovery of an ingredient that cause ice cream to melt slowly.
The secret ingredient is a protein called BsIA, which is found naturally in some foods.
When used in the ice cream making process, the protein helps to blend the components to make it smoother and more resistant to melting.
The protein works by keeping oil and water mixed together, stops air from escaping and coats the ice crystals in ice cream which stops them from melting so quickly.
In a statement, the University of Edinburg said, “The protein binds together the air, fat and water in ice cream, creating a super-smooth consistency.”
“We’re excited by the potential this new ingredient has for improving ice cream, both for consumers and for manufacturers,” Professor Cait MacPhee, of the University of Edinburgh’s school of physics and astronomy.
MacPhee adds, “It’s not completely non-melting because you do want your ice cream to be cold. It will melt eventually but hopefully by keeping it stable for longer it will stop the drips.”
The protein has also proven helpful in keeping ice cream frozen so that it remains smooth and creamy and free of the formation of ice crystals.
The university scientists developed a way to produce the protein using friendly bacteria. Their research shows that it’s possible for manufacturers to make ice cream with fewer calories and saturated fat.
“By using this protein we’re replacing some of the fat molecules that are currently used to stabilize these oil and water mixtures so it can reduce the fat content, but it shouldn’t taste any different,” explained MacPhee.
The scientists estimate that the slow-melting product could become available in three to five years.