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Low carb ice cream challenges

Printed From: Dairy Science and Food Technology
Category: Ice cream
Forum Name: Ice cream
Forum Description: Science and technology of ice cream
Printed Date: 13 Jun 2021 at 11:49pm
Software Version: Web Wiz Forums 12.03 -

Topic: Low carb ice cream challenges
Posted By: gpinzone
Subject: Low carb ice cream challenges
Date Posted: 09 Jan 2014 at 4:13am
I've been on a low carbohydrate diet for a few years and making homemade ice cream was one way to come up with new food ideas that would be compatible with my eating plans. The ice cream market, unfortunately, is topsy-turvy when it comes to low carb dieters. We don't mind the fat content, but shun any source of carbs.

I'm using a moderately inexpensive ice cream maker (Cuisinart ICE-100) using 100% heavy cream (no milk), eggs as an emulsifier, and artificial sweeteners. I was unaware how important the freezing point depression of sugar was to the end product. I used to use only liquid sucralose, which doesn't contain the dextrose and maltodextrin the powered product uses for bulking. (A cup of Splenda yields 24 g of carbohydrate due where an equivalent amount of liquid sucralose yields 0 carbs and 0 calories.) I've begun adding in Truvia, which is mostly erythritol. The ratio of sugar to Truvia is 8:1, so I have not been able to resolve the freezing point depression problem since the effect of erythritol is "only" 2.8x of sucrose.  (I might experiment with xylitol, but so far I'm happy with the synergistic effect of Truvia and sucralose.)  I've been using the recipes from the Ben & Jerry's Homemade Ice Cream & Dessert Book as a baseline. The recipes are very simple, yet extremely effective. I'm using a cold process with pre-pasturized eggs, so I haven't tried any cooking methods yet.

My background is not in food science, but I do love the science behind ice cream making. I've read "Ice Cream" by Goff and Hartel cover to cover. It was there I learned about freezing point depression. From page 441: "Whelan et al. ( 2008 ) examined a number of polyol sweeteners in low glycemic index formulations. Once the freezing curves were matched, other physicochemical properties also were found to match." I was able to find this paper and a presentation referencing it on the Internet. The problem with sugar alcohols (other than erythritol) is the gas and bloating they cause. This applies to polydextrose, too, unfortunately. Maltitol is realistically no better than sucrose since it still has a relatively high GI response and isn't as sweet as sucrose. I'm quite happy with the flavor combination of Truvia and sucralose, but it leaves me with a very hard ice cream. The lack of sucrose and lactose means my freezing point is too high and it's probably why my ice cream is not very scoopable. I'm not opposed to adding a small amount of salt since it can help cure my lack of freezing point depression. Two recipes (butter pecan and chocolate) both use 1/2 tsp per quart. Since my MSNF percentage is going to be extremely low (thus few milk salts), I suspect some added salt won't negatively impact flavor in any of my mixes.

I have been using xanthan gum, but apparently that isn't a good stabilizer for ice cream (p. 80). I'm struggling to find a cold process stabilizer I can purchase. I found Cremodan 30 on, but that requires heating (and I believe it requires there be sugar in the mix). I'd be very interested in trying unflavored gelatin as a stabilizer, but there's very little information available on the Internet on how much to use and how to prepare it.

I've been looking for food additives that won't create an insulin response, lower the freezing point, and not cause gas/bloating. So far, I've found two candidates: Fibersol 2 and Glycerine. Fibersol 2 is a non-digestible dextrin.  It's completely soluble in liquid in high concentrations, has a modest laxation effect (70g), and doesn't alter taste. Sounds perfect, but I can't get a straight answer on the molecular weight. Parts of the company website say is 2000 Da, which would mean the freezing point depression would be poor. However, this document claims it's 180:

If so, it would be 1.9x as effective as sucrose...if true.

Glycerine is a controversial additive in the low carb world. Recent research has shown that glycerine does not significantly elevate blood insulin levels and only minimally elevates blood sugar levels. Nevertheless, the way the body process it is still a mystery. Some have argued that people on a high carb diet will process it like a fat, but people on a ketogenic diet will process it like a carbohydrate. What makes glycerine so attractive is it's low molecular weight. It should be about 3.7 times as effective as sucrose. Therefore, it would only take a modest amount (11-16 g) to provide an equivalent FPD to a sugar free batch of ice cream made with erythritol.

All this begs the question, "How much freezing point depression is considered good?" My calculations on the standard Ben & Jerry's Butter Pecan recipe is 2.07 degrees celcius. (I didn't count the pecans in the total weight. Should I have?) With the whole milk removed completely and 1.5 tbsp of Truvia (assuming it's essentially erythritol) instead of sugar, I could achieve the same FPD with 11g of glycerine.

Phew! That was a long first post. Any comments or suggestions would be welcome. I don't know if I can upload my spreadsheet since it includes a lookup table used to calculate FPD from Sucrose Equivalence, but I'd be happy to share what I have so far.

Posted By: Admin
Date Posted: 08 Jun 2016 at 8:45pm
Apologies for delay in approving your post. Your post was the last genuine query in a "mountain" of SPAM. I have since upgraded the Forum software and now expect much less SPAM. 

I will try to respond to your query shortly.

Posted By: Admin
Date Posted: 08 Jun 2016 at 9:26pm

First thank you for this post. Yes it is much longer than usual. 

I note your interest in low carbohydrate ice cream and producing an ice cream of low glycaemic index (GI).

Before commenting on carbohydrates and polyols I suggest you have a look at the published literature on the GI of ice cream. A range of factors influence glucose levels in blood serum. As far as food formulation is concerned fat tends to reduce GI. The limited data that I have looked at suggests that the GI effect of normal ice cream is surprising low. This data suggests that people concerned about product GI should be able to consume  a small quantity of ice cream without too much difficulty.

FPD of an ice cream mix has a major influence of softness/hardness/scoopability at the serving temperature. Note overrun and other factors also have an effect.

An ice cream mix with a low FPD can give ice cream that must be served at higher serving temperature say -10C whereas an ice cream with a high FPD can be served at a much lower serving temperature (e.g -18C) and still be scoopable.

So your choice of FPD depends on your serving temperature!

Yes most polyols and fibres if ingested at high concentrations can cause gastric disturbances.  But providing people do not eat large quantities of ice cream this should not really be a big problem. 

i note you have not mentioned fructose? I know that there are nutritional concerns about fructose but wondered why you had not mentioned it?

BTW you can only use low concentrations of erythritol in ice cream. Beyond a certain level it seems to crystallise creating a really hard product!

Maltitol is a good sucrose substitute. Yes there are some issues.

Regarding "cold" use stabilisers. In theory stabilisers that fully disperse at low temperatures can be used and several companies supply them. If you read Prof Goff's book you can easily pick the ones that do no not require high temperatures for dispersion.

Posted By: gpinzone
Date Posted: 09 Jun 2016 at 3:57am
It's true the glycemic impact of ice cream will be blunted due to the fat content. However, for a low carb diet, total carbohydrates are more important. It's been a while since I made that post and I've discovered quite a bit since then. Vegetable glycerine seems to work extremely well to depress the freezing point in lieu of sucrose.

I've also developed a much lower fat/lower calorie ice cream base using whey and casein protein to offset the lower fat content. I discovered a thickening product that is a combination of gums which  work nicely in ice cream, whether it's cold process or hot. Coincidentally, I just purchased a container of Cremodian 30 from Amazon and will try it out. I've also developed a low carb chocolate ice cream base that's outstanding.

I've had good results using ice cream flavorings, extracts, and concentrates. I don't have the same freedom for ingredients as regular ice cream. Case in point, if I wanted to make a great Oreo ice cream, I'd freeze them and use a Ninja blender to grind the cookies into dust and add it to the mix. Same for peppermint or other candy bars. That strategy isn't going to fly for low carb.

The biggest hurdle is sugar free varigates. I have not attempted a fudge swirl, but it should be doable. Sugar free caramel sauce is technically impossible. However, caramel flavorings for the base work splendidly.

I have a blog where I showcase my experiments:

Posted By: Admin
Date Posted: 09 Jun 2016 at 10:38am
Thank you for your update. I have viewed your blog at - . Interesting. Thank you for sharing.

Whey concentrate powders of 70 and 80% protein are readily available. Normal ice cream contains around 3.5% protein. By raising the protein try raising it by 2 and 3 fold and reducing your fat. You can also use less stabiliser.

Glycerol works well as does alcohol! Try liquors, whiskey, brandy, vodka.


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