Researchers from the University of Guelph, Canada and Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana, Colombia are investigating methods of slowing the melting process and simultaneously extending the shelf life of ice cream using a fibrous extract from banana fruit stems.
Our findings suggest that cellulose nano-fibres extracted from banana waste could help improve ice cream in several ways, said Robin Zuluaga Gallego from the Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana.
Previously in 2015, researchers at the University of Edinburgh and University of Dundee identified a naturally occurring protein derived from mould, called the BsIA, which binds fat, air and water in ice cream making it melt slower. In 2017, scientists in Japan developed a melt-resistant ice cream based on naturally occurring polyphenol compounds found in strawberries. However, by using agricultural waste, more of the banana plant is used and as such, less plant material is wasted.
Normally, the central stalk of a banana plant is discarded. However, the team of scientists have been able to extract cellulose nanofibrils (CNFs), thousands of times smaller than the width of a human hair, from ground-up banana stems. They mixed the CNFs into ice cream at varying concentrations, ranging from zero up to three-tenths of a gram per 100 gram of the dessert. Various investigative tools were used to evaluate the effects that CNFs had on the cold dessert, including a texturometer, which measures the hardness of ice cream and a rheometer, which measures how much force is needed to move a fluid.
These flavourless CNFs were found to make the dessert melt much slower than before. This has various benefits because not only does this mean people have more time to eat ice cream in the hot weather, the ice cream is also less sensitive to the temperature changes when moved out of the freezer – prolonging its shelf life. CNFs could replace some of the fats in ice cream because they could help stabilise the fat structure in ice creams. By doing so, the calorie count of ice cream would reduce, making ice cream a less guilty pleasure. Lastly, the fibres could lead to a thicker and more palatable dessert in the future following further research.
Eva, Consultant, Leyton UK
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