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Chemistry of Ice Cream

By Julia Galperin

There are so many different flavors of ice cream and all of them are super good. Most ice cream consists of five basic components: ice crystals, fat, sweeteners, air, and other solids.

The ice crystals are created when the water-content that is in the base starts to freeze. It gives the ice creams its solid body. The size of the ice crystals determines whether the texture of the ice cream is grainy or smooth. So, when making ice cream the ice crystals should be as small as possible. The next component in ice cream is fat which is usually butter/milk fat. The fat adds richness and improves the smoothness of the ice cream. The fat also increases the flavour of the ice cream. Third, there is sweeteners in ice cream which is usually sugar, honey, or syrup. The sweetener lowers the fressing point which allows the ice cream to not be rock solid. An opponent that you may not expect in ice cream is air. The air whipped into the base is responsible for the consistency of ice cream. Other solids such as non-fat milk solids (protein, mineral salt, cookie-crumbles) are also added for more flavour.

There is also a lot of chemistry behind this sweet treat that we all enjoy during these hot summer days. Ice cream is an example of an emulsion: mixture of two liquids that would not normally mix together and are spread throughout eachother. In ice cream these two liquids are fat and water. The fat like stated before mostly comes from cream in the form of "triglycerides." During the making of ice cream this fat is broken down into droplets and are aerosolized (convert into fine spray or colloidal suspension in air as said in google dictionary). The milk proteins which are added coat each fat droplet which prevents the fat from interacting with one another. The milk protein does not allow all the fat to combine and become one big droplet. Ice creams also have things called "emulsifiers" which also surround the fat droplets and replace some of the milk proteins. The fat will then be mixed evenly among all the ice cream. Once the ice cream is put in the freezing stage, air becomes trapped between fat, protein, and other emulsifying ingredients.

Now that you have a little more insight in the science behind ice cream, you can go enjoy your ice cream and know how it is made!

If you want to watch a video of how ice cream is made check this link out:

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