If you're anything like me, you don't save ice cream just for the summer months, you indulge in it all year round. Come rain or shine, you can count on finding me curled up on the sofa with a tub of Haagen Dazs in my hand. I mean, you wouldn't think that a frozen lump of milk and flavoring would be so darn delicious, but for some reason it just is. And whether you're more of a Ben and Jerry's aficionado or you're more about the delicate flavours, we've all been in dire need of needing the sweet treat on a hot summer's day.
However, the worst bit about grabbing an ice cream has to be how quickly our soft-serve melts. What starts as an innocuous drip quickly turns into a full on flood, threatening to make a mess of our summer linens.
Thankfully, this summertime woe may not be such as a problem anymore, as researchers from the University of Dundee and the University of Edinburgh have discovered a naturally-occurring protein which slows the process of your ice cream turning into milky slush.
In a joint study conducted by the two universities, researchers discovered a new protein named BsIA which makes ice cream more resistant to warm temperatures. When the naturally-occurring protein is added to the mix, it adheres to fat droplets and air bubbles, binding together the air, fat and water. Not only does this mean that your mint chocolate chip melts slower but the protein helps prevent gritty ice-crystals from forming, giving your ice cream a smoother consistency.
This has obvious benefits for lower-end ice cream manufacturers, as they will now be able to replicate the silky texture of more expensive ice creams by incorporating the raw, sustainable matter. However, all manufacturers will profit from not needing to deep freeze their product for so long.
Speaking about the exciting discovery, Dr Nicola Stanley-Wall, a researcher from the University of Dundee said, "it has been fun working on the applied use of a protein that was initially identified due to its practical purpose in bacteria.”
And the leader of the project, Professor Cait MacPhee from the University of Edinburgh’s School of Physics and Astronomy added, "We’re excited by the potential this new ingredient has for improving ice cream, both for consumers and for manufacturers."
The protein, BsIA was developed in conjunction with the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.
We still have a while to wait before slow melting ice cream hits our local grocery stores, as researchers estimate that it will be three to five years before manufacturers will be able to make ice cream using the protein. So I guess we're just going to have to keep licking ice cream off our wrists until 2020.
Either way, I'm going to be the first person in line for the new, long lasting product when it drops. Now, pass me the Phish Food!