With the hot weather of summer upon us, a favorite snack is always ice cream: whether it be vanilla, strawberry, chocolate or something completely untraditional. The all-too-familiar problem of eating ice cream in the hot weather and having it melt too fast results in sticky hands, disappointment, and a mess in its wake. If this dilemma sounds familiar, there is hope to avoid this ice cream disaster in the future, thanks to the wonderful world of chemistry.
Chemistry has discovered a way to slow down the melting process of ice cream- and the key is bananas. By using the fibres extracted from the waste product of the yellow fruit, scientists are able to make something not useful into a savior for hot weather. This idea was presented at the 255th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS), which could potentially change the ice cream industry forever (1). With Americans consuming an average of 23 pounds of ice cream per year, this is one chemical intervention that could make a significant impact on the food industry (2).
The lead researcher, Dr. Robin Zuluaga Gallego, provided a hint by stating that the cellulose nanofibers (CNFs), extracted from the stalk of bananas, increases the thickness of the dessert, which subsequently slows down the melting process and allows for the tasty treat to last longer (1). Through the usage of CNFs in ice cream, it could also be potentially used to replace fat in ice cream, which could decrease the calorie count (2). This research is definitely something to keep an eye on, as it may change the future of ice cream and other frozen foods as we know it.
Although the usage of CNFs is one alternative to make ice cream last longer, other research has been conducted in 2015 by scientists in Scotland through the usage of a naturally occurring protein called BsIA . This protein allows for air, fat, and water to be bound together more tightly, which ultimately allows for ice cream to melt slower (3). This idea has yet to hit the market due to having to undergo further testing, which could take between three to five years (3).
Ice cream in the summertime is always a favorite, but the chemical world has been hard at work in order to make the tasty treat even better. Seeing the breakthroughs within the field allows for a better understanding of how our favorite foods benefit from experimental chemistry.
- American Chemical Society. (2018, March 21). Banana plant extract could be key to creamier, longer lasting ice cream. ScienceDaily. Retrieved June 1, 2018 from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/03/180321090941.htm
- Banana extract helps prevent ice-cream melting.https://www.foodprocessing.com.au/content/ingredients/news/banana-extract-helps-prevent-ice-cream-melting-121232819
- Tejada, C. (2018, March 23). Banana Plant Extract Could Be The Secret To Ice Cream That Melts More Slowly. https://www.huffingtonpost.co.za/2018/03/23/banana-plant-extract-could-be-the-secret-to-ice-cream-that-melts-more-slowly_a_23393253/