The details were published in the Journal of Dairy Science.
The authors noted that as ice cream is a complex food, the removal of one ingredient may affect not only its physical properties but also sensory characteristics.
Fat in ice cream contributes to texture, mouth feel and flavor, and is also important structurally. In the US, the standard of identity of ice cream requires a minimum milk fat content of 10%.
As consumers look for products with fewer calories, fat reduction is a means of eliminating calories from food and, given the high cost of milk fat, manufacturers may also be able to cut costs by reducing fat.
The authors said it is widely believed, however, that consumers tend to consider reduced-fat products to be lower in quality.
The researchers formulated vanilla ice cream with 6, 8, 10, 12, and 14% fat, and the difference was made up with 8, 6, 4, 2, and 0% maltodextrin, respectively, to balance the mix.
Maltodextrins, polysaccharides produced by partial hydrolysis of starch, are a common bulking ingredient in frozen desserts.
The use of maltodextrin, polydextrose, and inulin in reduced-fat ice cream mix has been shown to increase viscosity and produce fast-melting frozen desserts. The authors noted the use of MD in non-fat ice creams resulted in sensory ratings closer to those of a control ice cream with 10% fat.
Physical characteristics studied included measurements of overrun, apparent viscosity, fat particle size, fat destabilization, hardness, and melting rate.
A series of sensory tests were conducted to measure liking and the intensity of various attributes.
Tests were also conducted after 19 weeks of storage at −18°C to assess if there were any changes in acceptance due to prolonged storage at unfavorable temperatures.
Drop in acceptance after storage
The authors found acceptability did not differ significantly across the samples for fresh or stored ice cream. Following storage, ice creams with 6, 12, and 14% fat did not differ in acceptability compared with fresh ice cream.
However, the 8% fat-6% MD and 10% fat-4% MD ice creams showed a significant drop in acceptance after storage relative to fresh ice cream at the same fat content.
Consumers were unable to detect a difference of 2 percentage points in fat level between 6 and 12% fat. They were able to detect a difference of 4 percentage points for ice creams with 6% versus 10%, but not for those with 8% versus 12% fat.
Removing fat and replacing it with maltodextrin caused minimal changes in physical properties in ice cream and mix and did not change consumer acceptability for either fresh or stored ice cream.
The authors concluded the use of MD as a bulking agent may be feasible for reducing the energy density of vanilla ice cream, as well as a way to reduce production costs.
They cautioned, however, that manufacturers should evaluate this alternative in the context of their own formulations, manufacturing processes, and brand identity.
Effect of fat content on the physical properties and consumer acceptability of vanilla ice cream
Source: Journal of Dairy Science
Authors: M. Laura Rolon, Alyssa J. Bakke, John N. Coupland, John E. Hayes, Robert F. Roberts