Are you looking for an article that finally explains how to make (from scratch) ice cream and sorbet recipes for the Pacojet and be assured of a result comparable to artisanal ice cream? Then you have come to the right place. Starting with the method that applies to artisanal ice cream, we will look at how to proceed with balancing and recipe for sorbets and pacojet ice cream.

In this article I will explain how to adapt the method to the configuration of the equipment available to your restaurant. Whether you pacotize at the last minute each individual serving or make the mise en place by pacotizing all the ice creams and sorbets 2 hours before serving, I will explain how to adapt the recipe.

The article will be comprehensive as far as the world of Pacojet is concerned. However, for a full understanding of the impact of raw materials (sugars, fats, milk solids, stabilizers, fiber, air and water) and the world of artisanal ice cream and its balancing, I will leave you with recommended insights either in the format of online courses usable at your own pace, or literature and digital tools, such as BilanciaLi.

One step at a time, let’s see how this article is structured, enjoy your reading!

What is Pacojet and how is it used in restaurants?

Pacojet is a device patented by the Swiss company Pacojet AG and designed to simplify work in the restaurant line. The idea is quite simple: it is a very powerful blender that can process frozen products and turn them into a puree. This makes it possible to create foams, pestos, creams or, indeed, ice creams and sorbets.

Simply place a mixture or foods accompanied by a liquid (such as a syrup or broth) in the cylindrical container of the Pacojet and blast chill everything to -20°C. Fruits, vegetables, mushrooms, nuts, it doesn’t matter. Simply “pacotize” the frozen mass for a defined number of servings and serve the resulting product straight away.

In the specific case of ice cream and sorbet, what is often overlooked by many chefs is that although Pacojet is in fact a machine that processes a frozen mixture, it is still able to incorporate air into the final product.

In addition, characteristics of ice cream such as its ability to resist melting should be of paramount importance to a restaurant, which often serves ice cream within a dish. It then becomes just as important (as in ice cream making) to balance one’s mixtures according to the result one wants to achieve.

Balancing artisanal ice cream

But let’s first see what it means to “balance” an ice cream or sorbet mixture.

Ice creams and sorbets are basically mixtures of liquids and solids to which air is incorporated during whisking by the rotating paddles of the ice cream maker. Everything (air, water, solids) is held together by cold, induced by the ice cream maker chilling the inserted mixture.

In order to become a creamy, scoopable ice cream with the right sweetness, plumpness and ability not to harden too much with cold or melt immediately with heat, our mixture must be balanced. The art of creating a well-balanced mixture for ice cream is called “balancing.”

How do you balance ice cream? Per se, this is nothing complicated: by means of the nutritional values of the ingredients, several parameters are calculated: % sugars, % fat, % milk solids, % total solids. A mixture is said to be “balanced” when these values lie between defined minima and maxima.

As for the “solids,” we then have the most complicated ones to deal with: the neutrals, that is, all the thickeners, stabilizers, gelling agents, emulsifiers. These substances are also called “hydrocolloids” and are composed of flours, gums, alginates, etc.

In the case of sugars there are a couple of extra dimensions:

  • the sweetening power (SP), giving an indication of how sweet your ice cream will be
  • The anti-freezing power (AFP), telling at what temperature your ice cream should be kept

Balancing ice cream with a software

Thank goodness, these are calculations that you do not have to do with pen, paper and calculator, but there are software called “balancers” that do everything for you. It is therefore worth taking a look at BilanciaLi, a simple and essential software that allows you to create balanced recipes from convenient starting points and provides all the guidance you need to always have spoon-proof ice cream.

Balancing software is essential to reduce fence time, as you avoid several “dry runs.” If a mixture is balanced you will almost certainly get good ice cream. The result will not always be perfect, but thanks to the balancer you will be able to quantify your experiments and adjust small defects with a second try.

Sugars and their impact on the structure of ice cream

For example: an ice cream seems too sweet to you. The balancer tells you that it has a SP of 20%. Lower sugars until you have 18% and find that that is the sweetness that satisfies you. From that point you will try to balance all recipes on 18% sweetness or otherwise know how to adjust accordingly.

What is important to understand, however, is that in order to learn how to create excellent recipes, a good understanding of the raw material is first necessary. Especially how the raw material affects the structure of your ice cream.

  • Milk proteins serve to incorporate more air and at the same time help absorb free water, improving the texture of the ice cream.
  • Sugars give structure, as well as lowering the freezing point of the mixture.
  • Fiber, fat, low-fat dairy, stabilizers, air, water: all these elements have their impact on the mixture.

If you want to learn more, I invite you to check out my online class on gelato basics, where I also cover ice cream balancing and making with Pacojet!

E Learning Basic Gelato Online Class Landscape

Although the courses are geared to the home setting (thus with small ice cream makers), chefs and gastronomy professionals will also benefit. Indeed, the very hands-on approach of the courses is also useful in the context of a restaurant, where ice cream production is limited to a few kilograms daily at most.

How the procedure changes with pacojet

When we make ice cream with pacojet we have a difference in two precise points of the procedure: balancing and churning (which is replaced by “pacotizing”).

Basic procedure for ice cream

Let’s just start with the procedure in the case of the pacojet. Although it is balanced slightly differently, the mixture for pacojet is created in the exact same way as for artisanal ice cream:

  • I weigh all my ingredients
  • I combine the powders together (sugars, milk powder, stabilizers, fiber, etc.).
  • I warm the milk
  • I combine the cream at 30-35°C
  • I add the powders around 50°C
  • I put in the yolks (if provided) around 60-65°C
  • Pasteurize at 80-85°C for 2 minutes
  • I blast chill to +4°C and let ripen 6-8 hours

…and so far nothing new compared to the procedure for artisanal ice cream (similarly, the procedure for sorbet is the same until ripening)

  • I put the mixture in a pacojet glass and blast chill to -20°C
  • Pacotize

The importance of serving temperature

By blending the frozen mixture, the pacojet blades will heat it, causing it to lose several degrees: as a rule, you’ll loose approx 14°C reaching a temperature of -5°C / -6°C.

Let us stop here and see why this detail is very important.

I have already mentioned that with a balancer it is possible to calculate the serving temperature of an ice cream. The serving temperature is the temperature at which we should keep the ice cream to have it at an ideal consistency.

Serving temperature and AFP are inversely proportional: high AFP = low serving temperature, low AFP = high serving temperature.

The lower the serving temperature of the mixture (e.g., between -8 and -12), the softer the ice cream will keep despite the low temperature. The ice cream will have a higher AFP and will melt faster at room temperature.

The higher the serving temperature (e.g., between -4 and -8), the faster it will harden if exposed to cold temperature. At the same time it will have a lower PAC and melt less easily at room temperature. The ice cream will also be less sweet because the parameter that most influences AFP is the % of sugars (in addition to the type of sugars used).

Express process or “mise en place”?

You may have already guessed it: if the ice cream comes out of the pacojet at -6°C, its balancing will have to rotate around that temperature. Well yes, but it is important to distinguish the way you use to work.

  • Some chefs who make very few ice creams may prefer the “express” method: I pacotize an ice cream for the number of servings needed. I serve it, put the glass back to -20°C and the next time I need it I pactoize it again, and so on….
  • Often, however, chefs work a little differently: in fact, they prepare the ice creams a couple of hours before serving so that they are ready to use. In this case, ice creams and sorbets are kept at -18°C (or better, in a higher temperature freezer dedicated to ice creams).

In the next two chapters we see how the balance changes in these two situations.

“Express” procedure (pacoctize last minute before serving)

If your goal is to pacotize the ice cream in an “express” manner and then produce the required number of servings and serve them, you will need to balance it on a serving temperature around -6°C.

This way the ice cream will have the right consistency as soon as it is pacotized. However, the ice cream will have a tendency to harden faster if kept at -18°C for several hours, and you will therefore have to re-pacotize before each service.

Since you have to lower the sugars to have a higher serving temperature, you will have a less sweet ice cream in this case.

“Mise en place” procedure (pacotize 1 time before service) – Most common

If you pacotize all your mixtures 1-2 hours beofre the service and keep them at -18°C to have the ice cream ready when you serve it, you will need to balance it on a serving temperature of -8°C / -10°C.

In this case, upon leaving pacojet, the ice cream may be a little too soft. However, it will have time to harden again and stabilize in the 2-hour pre-serving freezer and will be perfect at that time because it will have reached its ideal serving temperature by cooling a few degrees. The ice cream will not be ready to use after pacotizing, but it will last longer in the freezer before hardening. The next day it will have to be pacotized again.

Below we see 3 examples:

  • A cocoa ice cream balanced on a temperature of -9°C
  • another ice cream, but with fior di latte balanced like cocoa on -9°C
  • A vegan ice cream (pina colada) balanced on -8°C (using sorbet profile)

All ice creams came out of pacojet at -5/-6°C.

  • The first two show signs of melting and need a few degrees of cold to get between -7°C and -9°C and be perfect for service. A couple of hours at -18°C are sufficient for them to be ready, as written.
  • The vegan, on the other hand, is almost ready for service.

How to modify artisanal ice cream or sorbet recipes for Pacojet

The basic ingredients you’ll need for Pacojet are almost the same as for ice cream for the ice cream maker. The following also remain valid for pacojet: sucrose (white sugar), low-fat milk powder, stabilizers (locust bean gum, guar gum, tara gum, xanthan gum), fiber (inulin).

On sugars, there is a difference: instead of dextrose (which has a PAC of 190, so very high), we prefer dehydrated glucose syrups with low dextrose equivalence. For example, atomized glucose 39-DE, a sugar with milder antifreezing power (45) and also a very low SP (23), but which will help give structure to ice cream in cooperation with sucrose without greatly lowering its antifreezing power (and thus its serving temperature).

The fact that 39-DE atomized glucose also has a low sweetening power makes it an excellent ally for gastronomic ice creams as well, for which the sweetness must be much lower in order to match them with savory dishes while maintaining a certain balance of flavors.

Pacojet Balancing with BilanciaLi

If you have come this far, all that remains is to put the lessons into practice using an ice cream balancer. If you do not have your own instrument, I recommend downloading BilanciaLi Gold.

To complement the software, we’ve launched a free online class on ice cream balancing. This course offers a deep dive into the functionalities of BilanciaLi Gold, showing you how to harness its full potential through in-depth demos. From managing recipes with no limits to calculating food costs and mastering the management of semi-finished products, this class is your key to unlocking a new realm of ice cream making.

BilanciaLi Gold contains multiple configuration profiles: for ice cream, sorbet, gastronomic ice cream, slush and vegan ice cream, plus two profiles that you can use as you see fit.

The basic profiles of BilanciaLi Gold are configured for an ice cream machine. If you only use pacojet, you can adapt the basic ice cream and sorbet profiles for pacojet by essentially adjusting sugars, AFPs, SPs, and, a little bit, fats and solids as well.

balancing parameters for pacojet - ice creams and sorbets with pacojets and BilanciaLi

If you use pacojet and an ice cream machine instead, you can use the two free profiles for ice cream and sorbet with pacojet by copying these values and avoid replacing the existing profiles (which you will use with the ice cream machine).

It is important to note that the serving temperature of the mixture calculated by BilanciaLi is always intended as an indicative parameter. If a mix has an AFP that corresponds to a serving temperature of -8°C, it means that toward that temperature it will begin to harden. However, the fat content, the amount of free water (if you don’t dose the neutral well) or the % total solids are factors that can affect how well the mixture resists freezing and thus shift the actual hardening point by a few degrees. However, the balancer will not go far wrong 😉

A recipe to try

Let’s get our hands dirty with a sample recipe! Here’s something simple to give it a first try: I’d say we can call it “modern grandma ‘s cream ” (since ‘s cream was not made with pacojet…), balanced on a serving temperature of -9°C so perfect for a mise en place a 1-2 hours before serving.

Modern grandma’s cream (approx. 1kg)
  • 500 g of whole milk
  • 140 g of cream (35% fats)
  • 180 g eggs (yolk 1=20gr)
  • 25 g of skim milk powder
  • 2 g of locust bean gum
  • 115 g sucrose
  • 20 g of atomized glucose 39-DE

Small note on balancing: locust bean gum is generally used in larger doses (4-5g/kg) but in this recipe we use less because we already have several yolks, whose lecithin already has excellent stabilizing and emulsifying power. The neutral is therefore just helpful and serves to further improve the structure by helping to absorb some of the free water.

See above for the process.

Let me know how you like the recipe by tagging @cucinali and/or @bilanciali in your Instagram posts and stories!

Ice cream support & consulting

For the writing of this article, I performed most of the tests by balancing new recipes (or rebalancing existing recipes) in the dark (only aided by BilanciaLi) and passing them on to Lorenzo (whom I quote at the bottom of this article) to try out. He gave me feedback by providing videos of the consistencies and it was enough to define the necessary balancing parameters, demonstrating that I can safely provide remote consulting to help you “fine-tune” any recipes for which you are not getting the desired result.

If you are in the restaurant business and working with pacojet but are not getting the results you want, have unbalanced recipes and don’t know how to “fix” them, contact me for a consulting offer via the contact page.

Ice Cream recipes for Pacojet in eBook format

CucinaLi’s Gelato Project is an innovative initiative in the field of digital gastronomy. It is a continuously updated ebook of ice cream recipes, where supporters, through a subscription, can request specific recipes, including, of course, recipes for Pacojet. This participatory method ensures that the content of the ebook is always fresh and personalized, responding directly to the wishes and tastes of the CucinaLi ice cream community.

Inside the Gelato Project you will find a chapter of recipes for Pacojet!

Each recipe included in the Gelato Project is professionally balanced, making them ideal for both fans at home and professionals. This approach not only ensures quality and versatility, but also positions CucinaLi as a benchmark in the artisan ice cream industry, reinforcing its image as an expert and innovator in creative cooking.

Ordering the raw material at a good price

If you are looking for an less expensive way to order raw material for ice cream, you can take advantage of CucinaLi’s partnership with Gioia Group in Italy and use this form to order everything you need at wholesaler prices.

Acknowledgements

For writing this article, I wanted to thank 3 people who were essential in approaching the topic, discussing their experiences, and recipe testing!

Andrea Bertarini, a friend and head chef at the Lac restaurant in Melide (and a Michelin star earned years earlier at Concabella in Vacallo), with whom I had my first in-person tests with Pacojet at his restaurant and had my first discussions on the subject.

Christophe Loeffel, pastry chef at Le Pont de Brent (2**) as well as freshly elected pastry chef of the year 2021 by Gault & Millau, whom I thank for his availability, tips on pacojet and interesting chats about ice cream.

Lorenzo Facchetti, pastry chef at San Martino Treviglio restaurant */Marelet Osteria Contemporanea (BG) and always super willing to try recipes and send me his feedback via whatsapp video 🙂 Glad to have exchanged interesting discussions with you about gelato with ice cream machine and pacojet. Your input was essential in validating “blind” balanced recipes with BilanciaLi!

Disclaimer

The purpose of my article is not to promote Pacojet (also because I have no agreement with them) or devices in particular, but to disseminate techniques and procedures hoping to answer questions that many have been asking. There are also other products that work as Pacojet, but I leave it up to you to decide which one to choose for your restaurant.

Andrea
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