Frozen desserts have been among our favourite treats since antiquity. Nowadays, agri-food industry companies must adapt to consumer demand in terms of taste and texture, but also new guarantees. New products are being offered as part of an approach of constant innovation that still respects well-defined manufacturing procedures for ice cream, sorbet and dairy ice cream.
DAIRY ICE CREAM: A STORY OF INDULGENCE
Since antiquity, the Chinese and the Persians have been working hard to innovate and develop frozen desserts. Back then, people dug holes in the ground to serve as ice boxes and store snow from higher altitudes. Fruit or honey was added. The Chinese then invented an edible ice maker. They mixed potassium nitrate with water to get a -10°C mixture. They then added a mixture of goat's milk, honey, and spices.
This freezing technique has crossed continents and lasted centuries. In the 14th century, thanks to Marco Polo, it travelled from the Far East to Italy. Then, Catherine de Medici's pâtissier Ruggeri created a sorbet recipe that enchanted all of Paris. In the 17th century, Italian Francesco Procopio dei Coltelli opened a restaurant in Paris, Le Procope, with more than 80 ice cream flavours on the menu.
THE ICE CREAM AND SORBET MARKET
A highly seasonal market
Due to the fact that edible ice appeals to the senses, it remains a summertime product. Nearly 77% of this segment's revenue is made between April and mid-September. However, a late summer or an early winter can influence the yearly market.
Consumer habits and preferences
Who are the biggest consumers of frozen desserts? The gold medal goes to New Zealand, with nearly 23 litres of ice cream per year per person. By comparison, French people only eat 6 litres of ice cream per year per person. They prefer traditional dairy ice cream (41%), soft serve ice cream (33%) and sorbet (22%). As for frozen yoghurt, it has a hard time finding its place on the market (4%).
It must also be noted that in Europe, supermarkets and hypermarkets are the main places where ice cream is bought. 2/3 of the products sold are in fact made industrially. We may dream of the cliché of eating ice cream while sitting outside or on the beach, but in reality, that is only the tip of the iceberg - 83% of these refreshing products are bought from the frozen food aisle, to be eaten at home! Ice cream bars represent 25% of purchases, followed by tubs of ice cream (20% of purchases) and ice cream cones (19% of purchases).
What about favourite flavours? The consensus is clear. Vanilla is the champion, followed by chocolate, lemon and pistachio. There are not really any wild flavours on the podium, despite the arrival of alternative flavours such as peanut, liquorice and gingerbread.
Can ice cream ever be healthy?
Unfortunately, pleasure has a cost... For the same portion, ice cream bars and cones have similar energy values, between 200 and 300 kcal. However, it's important to look more closely at their make-up. Ice cream bars are rich in fats (19 g per 100 g) while cones are a bit less so (14%). It's the opposite for the sugar content: 26% for cones and 14% for bars. Ice cream is similar to cones in its make-up, with 8% lipids and 29% sugar. However, the modern consumer wants a product that is both delicious and healthy.
You can now find 100% fruit sorbet, with no added sugar and no fat, vegan ice cream with no lactose, organic dairy ice cream (still high in sugar) and ice cream for athletes, which is protein-rich but also high in fats.
KEY THINGS TO KNOW FOR PERFECT TEXTURE
The difference in texture between sorbet, ice cream and dairy ice cream depends mainly on the following 3 factors: the amount of fat, the amount of air incorporated and its temperature when it is consumed.
Sure to be smooth thanks to fat emulsion
All dairy ice cream is mostly made of water. When frozen, it turns into crystals. The smaller the crystals, the better the mouth-feel. That is why ice cream manufacturers create an emulsion, to homogenise the fat between the crystals and make them smaller.
However, sugar also has an influence on the texture. When it mixes with the water, a syrup is formed with a lower freezing point than that of water, thus causing smaller crystals to be formed, and giving a nicer mouth-feel.
Light texture thanks to air bubbles
The more air ice cream has, the smoother its texture and the easier it is to serve. Incorporating air is done by a process called whipping. Depending on the whipping speed, very different textures can be obtained. So, North American ice cream is whipped very quickly, which allows lots of air to be incorporated and gives it a smoother texture. On the other hand, Italian gelato is whipped a lot less quickly. As a consequence, it contains less air and its texture is denser, but each mouthful is also more flavoursome as air provides zero flavour.
The right temperature to enhance the mouth-feel
For an optimal tasting experience, it is advised to indicate to consumers the best temperature at which to eat the product, or how long to leave it out of the freezer before consuming.
THE SECRETS OF MANUFACTURING FROZEN DESSERTS
The ancient Chinese freezing method is long gone! Now, we mix water, sugar, fruit, flavours and sometimes, alcohol. Fats have no place in sorbets! However, to make them smoother, small amounts of dairy protein can be added.
To come under the name “fruit sorbet”, a product must have a minimum of 25% fruit, or 15% for acidic fruit (lemon, blackcurrant) and fruit with a strong flavour (mango, kiwifruit, pineapple, etc.) and 5% for nuts. The minimum weight per litre is 450 g, except for full fruit sorbet, for which the minimum weight is 650 g/litre. These higher-quality full fruit sorbet products have a denser texture. They must have a minimum fruit content of 45% or 20% for acidic fruit or fruit with a strong flavour. Sorbet has a soft and fresh texture, which is highly appreciated in summer.
The process for manufacturing ice cream is slightly different. Pasteurised milk, and/or egg-based ingredients, and/or plant-based ingredients, and/or gelatine is mixed with sugar and a certain amount of flavouring(s). The minimum weight per litre is 450 g.
Dairy ice cream
Dairy ice cream is not just any old ice cream! It is made of a mixture of sugar, milk, cream, various flavourings, and, sometimes, egg yolk. The minimum dairy-based fat content is 5%. No non-dairy fat is allowed for dairy ice cream, which must have a minimum weight per litre of 450 g. The fat content, particularly cream, gives it a lovely richness and a deliciously smooth texture.
ARMOR PROTÉINES INGREDIENTS FOR YOUR ICE CREAM
Armor Protéines support manufacturers and artisan ice cream makers with producing high quality desserts. Thanks to our technical ingredients, you can enjoy many advantages: reducing costs, improving melt-resistance and hardness to handle heatwaves better, improving the whipping rate for better texture, and reducing salty notes.