The days of watching melting ice cream run down the cone and onto your hand may soon be a thing of the past. British scientists say they’ve discovered an ingredient that causes ice cream to stay frozen longer.
Cait MacPhee led the project at the University of Edinburgh’s School of Physics and Astronomy, apparently deciding to take on slightly more pedestrian work than usual. Her team discovered a naturally occurring protein that helps slow the melting of ice cream by binding together air, fat and water. “It's not completely non-melting because you do want your ice cream to be cold,” she told the BBC. “It will melt eventually but hopefully by keeping it stable for longer it will stop the drips.”
Beyond simply slowing melting, the protein, BsIA, has other potentially positive attributes as well. Researchers believe it could be used to produce products that are lower in saturated fat and sugar, resulting in ice cream that is lower in calories. Despite all its amazing qualities, MacPhee stressed that this protein isn’t some scary new chemical. “This is a natural protein already in the food chain,” she said. “It's already used to ferment some foods so it’s a natural product rather than being a ‘Frankenstein’ food.”
It’s estimated that slow-melting ice cream could end up in stores in about three to five years. It’ll probably be just sitting out on the shelf melting very, very slowly.
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