Today’s article is the result of a collaboration with Davide Frainetti, ice cream maker and ice cream enthusiast, who has kindly put his experience in the field at the service of CucinaLi, to produce this article that will explain to you how to create blends of neutrals at home, but more importantly how to dose them and incorporate them into my ice cream and sorbet balancer: BilanciaLi to produce
- Ice cream and fruit sorbets
- Cream gelato
- Chocolate ice cream
Looking for how to balance commercial bases? This other article is for you then!
What is Ice Cream?
Ice cream is one of the most popular foods in the world. Gelato is one of the terms used to identify one of the different types of cold desserts: ice cream, frozen yogurt, sorbets, granita and gelato. They differ in: fat, sugars, whether they contain milk or not, and their respective ways of preparation.
One thing all these desserts have in common is that they are sweetened, flavored, contain ice, and are eaten in their frozen state.
What does Ice Cream consist of?
Ice cream is composed mainly of liquids, solids and air:
- The liquid part is given by milk, water, cream, fruit juices;
- solids from sugars, thickeners, fats and dry residues from foods;
- air is incorporated during the whisking process as the mixture is about to become ice cream
How do the elements of ice cream bind together?
Ice cream may seem like a very simple mixture indeed: just combine milk, sugar and eggs et voila the cream ice cream is ready! But no!
As mentioned before, ice cream is a complex mixture, composed of different elements that holding together and cooled as they are shaken incorporate air, the ice crystal becomes smaller and smaller, and this creamy composition is formed.
Egg was once used purely to thicken the mixture and create an emulsion, but over the years it has been replaced with alternative flours that can retain water and create precisely a sticky bond… hydrocolloids. Compared with egg, these thickeners/colloids have no flavor, are non-allergenic and do their job by using small amounts.
Very practical and useful but … you have to know how to dose these ingredients.
The most popular hydrocolloids
As mentioned before these ingredients can hydrate 200/300 times their own weight, so they must be dosed correctly and carefully. Today you can get them from specialized suppliers for professional use or even on the Web in small quantities for home use.
The most common ones are locust bean gum (E410), guar gum (E412), tara gum (E417). As you can see, a code made by “E” and a number is used; don’t worry, by this we don’t mean anything chemical or spatial that can harm you (at least for these three), but they are international numbers for identifying certain raw materials/substances internationally. Since in other countries the product may have a name change with the code “E410” there is clarity about the product being referred to. So when you go into ice cream stores or stores and read the labels, if you find these sayings, don’t be frightened, just search online for the acronym and you will know what it is.
These elements are very useful for the composition of ice cream, because they will be the component that will keep your ice cream “bound”!
Tara gum (E417)
Thickener, stabilizer, emulsifier
In an acidic environment, such as in a lemon sorbet, tara gum can be used standalone. It’s quite powerful as it works well in all environments, no matter if acidic, cold or hot!
Be careful: it should be dosed 30% less than locust been gum, as it has a greater moisturizing effect! If you are planning to use only tara gum (E417) to thicken your ice cream, 3.5gr is enough to thicken 1 kg of mixture.
Locust been gum (E412)
Thickener, stabilizer, gelling agent, emulsifier.
Locust been gum is a flour derived from the pods of the carob tree that are dried. Ground and reduced to powder. It is one of the most widely used stabilizers in the ice cream world.
It works well on its own for milk-based gelato, but works even better in collaboration with Guar or Tara.
To thicken 1 liter of liquid, 5gr is enough, so if we had an ice cream with few solids and more liquids, 5gr of locust been gum will be fine, but if we had an ice cream with more solids such as a cream or chocolate 3gr will already do the job.
Locust been gum is fully activated at 85°C, during the pasteurization process (remember to pasteurize), used cold it still does its job but its hydration power will be roughly halved.
Guar gum (E412)
Along with locust been gum is one of the most widely used stabilizers in ice cream making.
Compared to locust been gum, this also, like tara, has a higher hydration potency, and overdosing can create a “stringy” effect to your ice cream.
With guar gum used alone, you can thicken a chocolate ice cream with 1/2gr for example.
How to make up your own ice cream neutrals at home?
Since they should be dosed in small amounts, in case you have to assemble a neutral “of your own,” I advise against making 0.4/0.6gr doses but create a larger weight to then dry mix them thoroughly and then dose them according to the amounts you deem appropriate.
A very simple mix is 1.5gr of locust been gum and 1gr of guar, used at 2.5/3 gr per kg it will stabilize your mixture…so if you have trouble weighing 1gr or less, try weighing, for example, 15gr of carob and 10g of guar, mix them dry well, and when you go to prepare the mixture, you will add just over a couple of grams.
Powder blends and compositions are not as simple as one may think, which is why there are specialized companies that formulate and study the correct combination of these thickeners, blend them and market them already premixed; or they are “ballasted” with some sugar, milk powder, protein or fiber in such a way that the end user does not have to use 1gr per weighing but 20/35/50/100gr to have a more precise and correct balance.
How to insert one’s own neutral into the balancer?
In CucinaLi’s balancer, BilanciaLi, it is very easy to add your own raw materials, neutrals and bases.
Pure neutrals (such as locust bean gum) are generally classified as 100% solids because they contain no sugars, low-fat milk or fat. While in the case of bases or neutrals containing sugars you need to know how to classify the product in the sheet by correctly entering the parameters of sugars, fats, low-fat milk and other solids.
For those using a base, it is usually the manufacturer itself that provides a data sheet with balancing parameters.
For a neutral, the dose, in theory, not to be exceeded is 5gr per kg of mixture: that is 0.5 percent, so a proper inclusion for a balance ranges from 0.1 percent to 0.5 percent depending on the thickening raw material you are going to use.
Let’s start with the fact that the components of the neutral are very subjective; there is no law on the obligation to use one thickener instead of another. However, there are tricks to make it work and react best according to the type of final product to be produced! We then try to produce 2 different neutrals.
1. Neutrals for Fruit
A good fruit neutral can consist of tara gum and guar gum or both thickeners plus locust bean gum for a complete optimal reaction. Knowing that there are acidic elements in fruit such as lemon and grapefruit, a neutral that can react precisely in this environment is recommended. As mentioned before, in acidic environment, tara gum and guar react well. Both additives are cold soluble and also behave well in an acidic environment; a proper composition would be 80% tara and 20% guar, using about 3 or 4 grams/kg for sorbets with few solids: little pulp and lots of juice (lemon, orange), while a use of 2 or 3 grams/kg on pulpier fruits.
If you want, you can also add locust been gum, because even though it is cold insoluble, it equally creates a synergy if precisely it is combined properly with other hydrocolloids and is dissolved well. Since it is a cold blend, once the mixture is created, it is recommended to let it rest and hydrate for about 10 minutes before whisking.
In the Balancer we create 2 new entries in the Neutrals table, putting 0% sugars, PAC, fat and SLNG, and 100% other solids.
The minimum and maximum values are obtained by standing slightly below and slightly above (by 0.05%) Davide’s directions, so
- Neutral Fruit Tara/Guar (Juices) => 0.25% – 0.45%.
- Neutral Fruit Tara/Guar (Pulp) => 0.15% – 0.35%
Here is what these 2 neutrals would look like in BilanciaLi
2. Neutral for Creams
For creams the matter is simplified somewhat, as a good neutral can be formed here as well as for fruit, and I repeat: the choice of additives is very subjective. A hot creme neutral can be safely formed with a ratio of 60% locust been gum and 40% guar with use of 2 to 4gr per kg mixture.
In the balancer, this is how we would insert our cream neutral.
3. Neutral for Chocolate
For chocolate, you can also use only tara gum with use of about 3/4gr per kg mixture to make it creamier and give a slightly sticky effect.
In the balancer, this is how we would insert our neutral for chocolate.
Download the Configuration for BilanciaLi
If you are already a user of BilanciaLi…
Download these 4 neutrals in Excel format and copy-paste them into your food table!
Otherwise…go download CucinaLi’s ice cream balancer first!
The expert’s advice
My advice is always to pasteurize the mixture (for creams/fruit, it should not be heated!), i.e., bring it to 85° to eliminate bacteria, let the thickeners (see locust been gum) activate well, and let the powder part dissolve and mix well with the liquid part. And then bring the mixture to immediate cooling (to avoid bacteria reformation) or immediate freezing (see combined ice cream machines/ triptych system).
In the case where pasteurization cannot be done, you need the neutral to be able to run cold as well, so a combination of tara/guar only or 75%/35% tara/guar may be fine. If only guar was used 1gr/1.5gr per kg mixture should already be sufficient.
The hydrocolloid/additive discussion is very complex, given also the fact that different flours have different absorption/additive “potencies,” and these factors can vary even in the same type of additive (locust been gum year X/locust been gum year Y or locust been gum supplier x/locust been gum supplier y). Not all additives even if of the same type are the same.
All the advice given and listed comes from my personal experience and average values, the results can change depending on the type of process that is used of production, the type of origin of the additive and the degree of purity, the type of result that is desired. Starting from this basis, various experiments can be made until subjective values of optimal results are established.
Also using 5gr/kg of locust been gum for a sorbet is not wrong or 2.5gr of locust been gum and 1 of guar are not wrong, however, they can be starting points for the creation of an excellent homemade neutral and… last but not least: we talked about additives that have gelling ,emulsifying and stabilizing force but not about adding emulsifiers such as E471/E472/E473 that are used for professional and not homemade uses.
Blending is not very simple for the creation of the neutral, which is why there are specialized companies for the composition of these products, with chemical and physical studies and constant experimentation.
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