Heat shock stability in ice cream


A tough journey even for the best

Good ice cream is characterised by: 

  • Smooth, creamy texture and mouth-feel
  • Excellent melt-down properties
  • No sensation of crystals in the mouth
  • Limited change in properties during shelf-life

Your ice cream may start its journey to the supermarket with all of these qualities. But it’s a tough trip, even for the best-quality products. That’s because, essentially, ice cream is a frozen foam composed of one continuous phase (unfrozen water) and three continuous phases: air cells, ice crystals and fat globules. This complex cocktail of elements means that, unfortunately, even the best of ice creams can be damaged by a phenomenon known as the ‘Heat Shock Effect’…

Ups and downs

The Heat Shock Effect is caused by temperature fluctuations as ice cream products travel from the factory to the consumer. 

Repeated fluctuations cause ice crystals to melt and refreeze. The crystals grow, leaving a coarse, less creamy and more icy structure. The foam structure weakens and shrinks, and lactose crystals develop, leaving a sandy mouth-feel.

Ensuring Heat Shock stability provides a longer shelf-life, a better consumer experience, stronger brand perception and increased re-purchasing. And a better bottom line result, too.

A holistic approach to improving Heat Shock stability

Improving Heat Shock Stability requires manufacturers to take a holistic approach that combines know-how and experience, the right emulsifier system and production process, optimised packaging, and improved control of storage and distribution temperatures.

Ice cream’s key ingredients – milk solids, fat, sugar, emulsifiers and stabilisers – variously influence sensory attributes. And it takes surprisingly small adjustments in the relative proportions of each to make a big difference. Here’s what to focus on:

Mix preparation

  • Pasteurisation
  • Homogenisation
  • Aging

Fast freezing (hardening)

  • To maintain shape
  • To maintain small ice crystals

You’ll also need to use high-quality packaging, and of course, maintain an optimal storage temperature at the factory before sending your precious products out into the world.

Everything you need

To beat the Heat Shock Effect, everything has to work together: Recipe, equipment, production team and know-how. And that’s where Palsgaard can help. We have a powerful legacy of expertise in sustainable ice cream ingredients, their functionality and the influence of processing parameters. And we have all the resources you’ll need to deal with Heat Shock, including:

  • Sustainable emulsifiers and stabilisers
  • Pilot plant facilities with state-of-the-art ice cream equipment
  • Heat Shock testing equipment
  • Sensory panel
  • Global knowledge-sharing between application labs

Adapt your recipes for new challenges – without losing quality

Ice cream recipes are under constant attack, with consumer and regulatory demands for fat and sugar reduction, as well as a constant flow of new varieties making life harder for ice cream technologists and producers around the world, no matter if you're producing extruded or moulded ice creams, sorbets or ice lollies.

For example, when the level of saturated fat is reduced it makes the total fat softer, which in turn makes it more challenging to produce ice cream with a good structure and the desired eating quality. So ingredient and production parameter adjustments are needed – but what’s the best strategy? And what will protect your precious product from the Heat Shock Effect?

Get help here

Milk proteins, fat and sugars are the primary elements in an ice cream recipe. Even relatively small changes in the nature or proportions of these ingredients can make a sizeable difference. To maintain quality throughout the product’s lifetime, recipe changes need the help of powerful combinations of emulsifiers and stabilisers. Palsgaard creates such combinations, providing a range of generic recipes that can be fine-tuned for optimal results:

Ice Cream Recipes With Palsgaard Emulsifiers And Stabilisers

The best tools for maintaining ice cream quality

Successfully dealing with the Heat Shock Effect has many benefits including a better consumer experience, better brand perception and increased re-purchasing.

Palsgaard has a complete Heat Shock Stability toolbox that lets you work with every part of the puzzle – and it’s based on a complete, holistic approach. Here’s what we can offer:

  • Industry-leading emulsifiers and stabilisers
  • Pilot plant facilities with state-of-the-art ice cream equipment
  • Heat Shock testing equipment and processes
  • A professionally trained sensory panel
  • Global knowledge-sharing between application labs
  • A wide range of generic recipes that can be fine-tuned for your needs

In short, everything you’ll need to turn heat-shocked ice creams into top performers.

A legacy of expertise

As the inventor of the modern food emulsifier, we know a lot about the functionality of ice cream ingredients and the influence of processing parameters. And we’ve worked with manufacturers to create recipe after recipe that answers a wide range of demands. Key to these capabilities are some of the world’s best sustainable emulsifier and stabiliser systems:

Put one of these systems in your ice cream and you'll be sure for it to make it safely from company to consumer.