CHICAGO—The future of ice cream is happening right now. Ice cream flavors, textures, and ice cream's health benefits are ever-changing in today's society. In the March 2012 issue of Food Technology magazine, published by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), Senior Editor Don E. Pszczola writes how ice cream is continuing to evolve when it comes to flavor, texture, stability and health benefits.
When it comes to flavor, ice cream is no longer just about vanilla and chocolate. Flavors like, "salted caramel chocolate pretzel," "red velvet cheesecake," and even alcohol-flavored ice cream like "grasshopper" (brandy and crème de menthe) are appearing on grocery store shelves. According to the Food Technology article, sweet and salty ice cream flavors are on the rise. Chocolate covered potato chips and popcorn are just a few of the "snack ice cream" flavors that are emerging. Other atypical flavors like green tea, avocado, ginger and veggie-centric flavors like beet, and vanilla ice cream with olive oil and sea salt drizzled over the top are no longer so unusual. Seasonal menus and produce are no longer just for savory items, ice cream flavors based on seasons like hot chocolate mint and sugar & spice evoke memories of the holidays.
With obesity becoming an increasing concern, one company offers ice cream bars that have the taste and creaminess of premium ice cream but are sugar, lactose and gluten free. Other companies are producing dairy-free frozen desserts made with soy ingredients that are available in a variety of flavors. The new sweetener Stevia will most likely play a significant role in ice cream of the future by providing sweetness without adding calories. New stabilizers and emulsifiers will also play a role in recreating the creamy mouthfeel of ice cream without the added fat content.
Recently, a company developed a line of specialized vegetable extract blends that can be incorporated into ice cream as well to give it a healthy boost of beta-carotene from carrot, pumpkin, sweet potato, paprika, and Reishi mushrooms. In addition, evidence suggests that dairy is an ideal delivery vehicle for preserving the viability of probiotics in cultured milk products. This may help the elderly and people with medical conditions who have difficulty swallowing and minimal appetite get the protein, calories and other nutrients they need.
Another new creation is ice cream inspired by chewing gum that actually has a "stretchy" kind of texture. Taken from a Turkish-style ice cream called "dondurma," this ice cream actually becomes stretchier as the consumer manipulates it due to the wild orchid root that provides the unique texture. It also melts very slowly, making it a fun experience for both children and adults.
The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) is a nonprofit scientific society. Our individual members are professionals engaged in food science, food technology, and related professions in industry, academia, and government. IFT's mission is to advance the science of food, and our long-range vision is to ensure a safe and abundant food supply, contributing to healthier people everywhere.
For more than 70 years, the IFT has been unlocking the potential of the food science community by creating a dynamic global forum where members from more than 100 countries can share, learn, and grow. We champion the use of sound science across the food value chain through the exchange of knowledge, by providing education, and by furthering the advancement of the profession. IFT has offices in Chicago, Illinois and Washington, D.C. For more information, please visit