The magic of emulsifiers and stabilisers in ice cream

How can emulsifiers help?

Multi-phase systems, whether they are water-in-oil, oil-in-water, solid-in-oil, or gas-in-liquid are inherently unstable. Emulsifiers, which are molecules with ambiphilic properties (part of structure is hydrophilic while other moieties are lipophilic), adopt a favourable position with respect to energy, reducing the surface tension between phases. In food products, the result is much greater stability – and that’s something that has far-reaching benefits.

Ice cream with emulsifiers gains:

  • Heat Shock stability
  • Creaminess and body
  • Foam stability
  • Stand-up properties
  • Melting resistance

How do they work?

Emulsifiers commonly used in ice cream include mono-diglycerides (E471), lactic acid esters (E472b), propylene glycol esters (E477) and blends of these.

Mono- and diglyceride emusifiers:

  • Provide optimum fat globular membrane composition
  • Ensure protein desorption from fat globule surface
  • Squeeze liquid fat out of fat globules
  • Agglomerate fat globules
  • Construct a 3D network for extra stability
Propylene glycol esters in ice cream protect against the Heat Shock Effect by ensuring small ice crystals are created during freezing and reducing their tendency to grow during the journey to the consumer’s table. The image below shows how propylene glycol monostearate (PGMS) emulsifier maintains ice crystal size despite fluctuating transport and storage temperatures.  

What are stabilisers? 

Stabilisers are water-soluble polysaccharide extracted from land or marine plants or from micro-organisms. They are used to influence the viscosity or gelling behaviour of solutions.

In ice cream production, stabilisers play many roles, supporting:

  • Storage stability
  • Control over ice crystal growth
  • Reduced risk of shrinkage
  • Improved melting resistance
  • Modified sensory properties
  • Stronger stand-up properties
Without the right stabilisers, therefore, your ice cream products are likely to lack the resilience they’ll need to cope with the journey to the consumer’s table.

A powerful combination

Carefully designed combinations of emulsifiers and stabilisers, together with the right recipe and production parameters, can help to ensure a more consistently high-quality eating experience that brings consumers back for more.

One such combination is Palsgaard® ExtruIce for ice cream, a fully integrated compound of emulsifiers and stabilisers that:

  • Is easy dispersible
  • Doesn’t require pre-blending
  • Needs no de-blending during storage
  • Won’t create dust in the factory

With application centres in Denmark, Mexico, Singapore, Russia and China, we'll be happy to help you create heat shock-stable recipes for your ice creams.