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back Quality Factors in Ice Cream Many factors, including the flavor, body and texture, melting quality,

color, pa ckage, appearance, and influence quality, the overall acceptability of the produ ct by consumers. Appearance is the first aspect of a product to influence customers. This may be the appearance of the package in the supermarket cabinet, or it may be the appea rance of the ice cream in the serving dish on the table. Appearance of the packa ge is important, because obviously if the package is not attractive to prospecti ve customers, they will not buy it. The quality of the ice cream itself will nev er be evaluated if the package doesn't attract interest. Appearance also includes the ice cream's color. It has a marked psychological ef fect on acceptability of foods of all types, and ice cream is no exception. How often have you seen a dish of chocolate ice cream with a dull, murky appearance reminiscent of mud, or a strawberry ice cream so brightly colored that you know it has to be imitation? The various quality factors concerning appearance influe nce our opinion as consumers even before we taste it, a product, and therefore t hese factors should be carefully considered and adequately addressed in a qualit y-control program. A good start has been made in producing a readily acceptable product when it has been made to look delicious. Once the appetite is whetted an d a delightful flavor is anticipated, consumers are psychologically ready for a delicious taste sensation. At this point, all other quality factors become subor dinate to flavor. If the flavor is not up to expectations, consumers will be dis appointed and will consider the product to be of poor quality, regardless of the merits of other quality factors. Appearance of the ice cream itself is normally where most consumers start to dif ferentiate among the qualities of ice creams. Here, dipping characteristics--gum my, sticky body; coarse, icy texture; pleasing color indicative of flavor; and a ppearance of flavoring pieces (if present)--all play a part in influencing consu mers. How the ice cream melts down (melt-down) is a minor factor affecting appearance, and is normally noticed only in extreme cases--either adversely as a curdled, w heyed-off melted product, or favorably as an especially smooth, creamy, rich-app earing melted product. Textural characteristics of the ice cream are important and influence by may fac tors. If two samples of the same ice cream are handled differently to produce a coarser (icy) texture than another with the same formulations, the sample with t he better texture will be considered to a better flavor. In eating ice cream, on e becomes intimately interwoven with flavor sensations, and the ice cream textur e, in this case icy or course can either complement or detract from the apparent flavor. Milkfat accounts for most of the rich-sensations of ice cream, and only a limite d amount of substitution with other ingredients can be made without changing the product's characteristics. Milkfat contributes a mellowness and flavor as no ot her constituent can. Emulsifiers are helpful here, as are the phospholipids foun d in good-quality buttermilk powder, but much reduction in milkfat will affect t he eating quality of the product. Milk solids-not-fat (SNF) contributes to flavor but are most important to the bo dy and texture of ice cream. Proteins bind water to act as stabilizers, have an emulsifying effect on the fat, and give viscosity and chewiness to the body. Mil

k solids also include salts and lactose. If used in excessive amounts, milk soli ds cause a condensed-milk or milk protein flavor, but in most cases saltiness wi ll be the limiting factor on the amount of milk solids that can be used. For many years the fear of lactose crystallization (described as sandy) forced m anufacturers to limit the solids-not-fat in ice cream to 12% or less. Today, how ever, there is little danger in sandiness developing under commercial conditions . In fact, there is no excuse for sandiness in ice cream because technical advan ces have made it possible to eliminate this defect. Some experimental data indic ate that the incidence of sandiness is increased when the drawing temperature is decreased. Because milk solids tend to mask delicate flavors, it is necessary to use more f lavoring materials in order to make the flavor apparent. This is especially true for vanilla and fruit flavors, in which high levels of solids-not-fat interfere with the flavor. The more SNF, the more flavoring will generally be needed. Swe eteners play an important role in any ice cream, and the current trend is to add them in increasing quantities. They have three important functions: to give swe etness, to add to the solids content, and to lower the freezing point so that th e product is soft and smooth at low temperatures, say 10 F. For many years the industry has taken it for granted that the desirable level fo r sweetness is 15%, based on consumer tests. Increased sweetness in fruit ice cr eams is particularly important. Because fruit acids depress the apparent sweetne ss and because the added bulk of the fruit dilutes the mix, the body and texture is poorer. The higher sugar level brings out the fruit flavor and at the same t ime improves the body and texture. Recent trends in the use of sweeteners have b een to increase the amount of corn syrup or corn solids and to use blends. Chang es that result in a less expensive product are readily accepted. The use of additional corn solids is justified, but not merely on the basis of e conomics. Corn syrups got their start initially as table sugar substitutes durin g World War II, when they were used to stretch the sugar rations available to ic e cream manufacturers. During this period it became apparent that corn syrup had certain desirable properties that imparted improved quality to the ice cream, i f the corn syrup was used wisely. Corn syrup improves and helps to maintain smoo thness when the ice cream encounters temperature fluctuations of heat-shock. It gives a desirable chewiness to the body of the product due to the presence of de xtrins, high-molecular-weight polysaccharides that remain after acid hydrolysis of the cornstarch to produce corn syrup. Not all corn syrups have the same compo sition; in fact, there is a considerable range depending primarily on the extent of hydrolysis used in their preparation. Corn syrups have a characteristic flav or of their own, and if used in excessive amounts they interfere with natural fl avoring materials. Even when used in sub-threshold levels, when the flavor of th e syrup itself cannot be detected, there is a masking effect on ice cream flavor , particularly for vanilla. Gums of various kinds are useful as stabilizers in ice cream because of their ch aracteristic property of imbibing or absorbing large amounts of water. This char acteristic is effective in limiting the natural tendency of ice cream to become coarse in texture during storage. Numerous types of animal and vegetable product s have been found effective in ice cream and as a result a considerable range of stabilizers is available on the market. The primary purpose of stabilizers is t o maintain the smooth texture by inhibiting the formation and growth of ice crys tals, but other considerations are also important. Their effect on flavor, color , viscosity, whipping ability and meltdown should also be considered. The effect of the stabilizer on viscosity in relation to temperature and age has very practical significance. If the viscosity is increased immediately and grea tly, the mix will be difficult to cool. On the other hand, if the stabilizer imb

ibes water slowly and takes time to establish a gel structure, an aging period i s necessary, and viscosity will vary with age. Constant physical characteristics are important when mix is sold, or when it is necessary to freeze the mix immed iately after processing. Some gums are especially effective in increasing viscosity; others produce a hea vier body or provide better resistance to heat shock. Many have certain limitati ons if used alone, such as a curdy meltdown or coagulation of the milk proteins, and cause the mix to whey-off. Most commercial stabilizers are blends or variou s gums standardized to give uniform results from lot to lot. These products are more effective in maintaining good texture and aid in producing a heavier, chewi er ice cream. Emulsifiers have become more uniform, more versatile, and almost essential to mo dern ice cream manufacturing. They are especially useful in producing a stiff, d ry product for specialty items, but they also have their place in regular manufa cturing and packaging operations. The ice cream is smoother, creamier, and more melt-resistant when emulsifiers are used. However, excessive use causes an unnat ural slickness, a partially churned appearance, and product that does not melt. In some cases the flavor is adversely affected, too. Summary It is apparent from this discussion that each ice cream ingredient has specific functions that it alone can perform most effectively. However, there is a defini te overlapping of some of the functions. For example, all ingredients influence body and texture, so that a variety of variations can still produce an acceptabl e product. One must be careful when altering ingredients to assure that the eati ng quality is not impaired. Composition control is essential in obtaining and maintaining quality. The ice c ream's ingredients serve specific functions in supplying the characteristic prop erties of the final product. Several ingredients may influence some properties, so that similar results can be obtained by altering the quantities of any or all of them. Other properties of ice cream depend primarily on one ingredient.