Home-made ice creams and sorbets generally stink. They are made with equipment that isn’t strong enough to freeze as fast as it needs to. In return you are left with a gritty frozen paste that only slightly resembles Ice cream. Yes, there are expensive pieces of home equipment that will work better than others. The issue still stands that ice cream and sorbets are not an easy task to master for a home cook. Precision timing, texture, and temperature are the key factors that make frozen treats work. Now this wouldn’t be a typical Ask-A-Chef if there wasn’t a food hack coming your way. So hopefully you are wondering what ingredients will make ice creams and sorbets smoother, silkier, and more scoopable?
“How can I improve my ice cream?”
Considering ingredients like milk, cream, and fruits are all made predominantly of water and when water freezes it becomes a solid. The technique of churning is already a food hack unto itself. By only freezing small particles of water at a time and using the fats and/or sugars to coat those tiny shards makes ice cream scoopable. The smaller the ice crystals, the smoother the ice cream. Gumming agents aid in this by hindering ice crystal formation and coating the crystals that do form to soften them when eaten. We will only cover traditional churning in this article, but one day soon we will cover a completely different way to make Ice cream using a piece of equipment called a pacojet.
We have numerous ingredients that help with the texture of ice cream, sorbet, and gelato. Ingredients such as xanthan gum, guar gum, and locust bean gum are the most common we get asked about. These are all thickeners and help with the texture of frozen desserts. Xanthan is the most accessible but also the worst for this. Xanthan can lend to a chewy ice cream with it muted flavors and a sticky mouthfeel. Guar gum makes for a creamy texture and works well for both ice creams and sorbets. Guar is best used for sorbet as it can be mixed in cold, this means you can preserve the fresh fruit flavor that can be lost when heated. Locust bean gum works best for gelato. When locust bean gum is heated along side guar gum it will create a gel. This gel lends to a dense creamy gelato texture. Gelato has a lower fat content than ice cream which means that ice crystals can be more prominent. The combination of guar and locust bean gum gives gelato a rich creamy mouthfeel without having to add extra fat.
An ingredient that has recently come into prominence amongst ice cream lovers is Tara gum. Tara gum is also known as peruvian carob gum and is a gum just like the others. But tara gum has some very special properties that allow it to work with ice cream and sorbet. Tara gum “checks all the boxes” when it comes to frozen foods. Mixes in easily, check. Hinders ice crystal formation, check. Is flavorless and has good flavor release, check. Makes sorbet and ice cream the same texture…. Wait, what? From what we have found tara gum works so well it gives sorbet and ice cream similar textures. It adds a creaminess to the sorbet that it scoops the same as an ice cream. As you can see in our ripple ice cream recipe below, we are able to place sorbet and ice cream in the same container and scoop them as one. Tara gum allows for a good amount of “overrun”, overrun is the amount of air that ends up in the final ice cream/sorbet. More air churned into an ice cream/sorbet does 2 things. Air adds volume to the finished product as well as helping give the ice cream/sorbet better scoopability. If you have ever attempted to scoop ice cream that is as hard as a rock, it would benefit from some tara gum. Try our recipe below or add it to your own recipe in a ratio of 0.1-1% to the total weight of the recipe.
Give our Raspberry Vanilla Ripple Ice Cream recipe a try! Devotees of ice cream and sorbet have long been at odds over which frozen confection reigns supreme. We added secret ingredient tara gum to harmonize ice cream and sorbet into one smooth and creamy bite.