And it still tastes good: ice cream without sugar

Scientists want to replace sugar in ice cream from by-products of food production

22-Jul-2022 - Germany

Summer, sun, licking ice cream. Germans consume around eight liters of ice cream per capita per year. And the guilty conscience often eats along: According to nutritionists, it contains between 20 and 30 grams of sugar per 100 grams. A real calorie bomb. But substituting sugar often fails because consumers don't accept it. After all, ice cream should taste sweet and fruity, be creamy and create a pleasant mouthfeel. Now, food technologists and chemists at the Technical University of Berlin and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) have set out to solve the problem: They want to obtain dietary fiber from fiber-rich byproducts of food production, which can be used to replace sugar in ice cream in a tasty way. At the same time, the process helps prevent waste in food production.


"Sugar not only sweetens ice cream," explains Prof. Dr. Stephan Drusch, who heads the Department of Food Technology and Materials Science at Faculty III Process Sciences at TU Berlin. "Sugar also plays a significant technological role in its production and is thus also partly responsible for its structure and creaminess." Thus, he said, a reduction in sugar content also leads to a perceptible change in mouthfeel. Therefore, the goal of improving the nutritional properties of ice cream competes with its acceptance by consumers. The scientists from the two institutes involved now suspect that dietary fibers from by-products of food production offer a possible solution.

The conversion of carbohydrates from residues of peas, carrots and fruits could reduce sugar and preserve the "mouthfeel".

The insoluble fiber materials of pea hulls, carrot fibers and fruit residues from juice production, such as cellulose, hemicelluloses and pectin, contain complex carbohydrates. In the project "Replacement of sugar in ice cream by potentially prebiotic oligo- and/or polysaccharides from sustainable sources", funded by the Donors' Association for the Promotion of Sciences and Humanities in Germany (Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft), the scientists* aim to convert these components into so-called oligosaccharides in a controlled manner using biological and physical processes, which will change their functional properties. "It is already known that such materials can positively influence the structure and mouthfeel of various foods via improved water binding, and in this way enable a reduction in sugar," says Stephan Drusch. "From a nutritional point of view, however, they are still considered dietary fibers because of their prebiotic effect, i.e. their content of indigestible ingredients."

The goal: to make plant byproducts usable for use in ice cream

But despite these fundamental findings, there is still a lot of work ahead of the scientists* and before the first ice cream can be enjoyed without regret. This is because each fiber material has a different carbohydrate profile according to its botanical origin. The process for producing the oligosaccharides - a combination of enzyme treatment and mechanical high-pressure treatment - must therefore be specifically adapted. The aim of Stephan Drusch's research group at the Technical University of Berlin is to make a wide range of plant by-products usable for use in ice cream by systematically understanding this process.

According to the scientists, a major opportunity lies in the heterogeneous composition of the fiber materials. This results in very different oligosaccharides with a broad prebiotic activity. Characterizing these in more detail is the task of the food chemistry expertise of the working group of Prof. Dr. Mirko Bunzel, Department of Food Chemistry, at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). "It's worth taking a closer look," the researchers from Karlsruhe and Berlin are convinced. "Harnessing existing byproducts of the food industry thus helps avoid waste in food production. And ice cream can become healthier if sugar is reduced and replaced by dietary fiber."

Note: This article has been translated using a computer system without human intervention. LUMITOS offers these automatic translations to present a wider range of current news. Since this article has been translated with automatic translation, it is possible that it contains errors in vocabulary, syntax or grammar. The original article in German can be found here.

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