Sugar and Ice cream
There are several contributions of sugars in ice cream, the most important are to provide sweetness (P.O.D.), control the freezing temperature (P.A.C.), provide texture, enhance aromas and prevent the formation of crystals. Each type of sugar has its own sweetening power and antifreeze power. The reference both for the sweetening power or relative sweetness and for the antifreeze power is the base sugar, sucrose (value equal to 100).
It is important, for a good balance of the mix, to know these parameters and the contribution in solids of each of the sugars that are involved in the mix, in order to control the sweetness, texture and hardness of the ice cream.
Sweetening power (P.O.D.): The sweetening power of a sugar is its ability to provide sweetness. In a mix, for reasons that we will see in detail later, only one sugar is almost never involved, but rather the combination of two or more. Sometimes, for reasons of serving temperature balance, we have to vary the combination of sugars, but this should not be to the detriment of the sweetness point.
Antifreeze power (P.A.C.): Sugars not only provide sweetness. If it were only that, at most they could be replaced by some artificial sweeteners, but they provide something more valuable for obtaining quality ice cream, which artificial sweeteners do not have: antifreeze power, that is, the power to delay and determine the point of water freezing.
Sugars in ice cream provide sweetness (P.O.D.), control the freezing temperature (P.A.C.), provide texture, enhance aromas and prevent the formation of crystals.
Between two ice creams, exposed to the same cold temperature, the ice cream with more sugar is softer. But not all sugars have the same PAC.
Mastering sugars, knowing each of their particularities, both sweetness and antifreeze power, handling them properly, gives us the possibility of balancing each and every one of the ice cream families. In the families of liqueurs, which are strong antifreezes, we will use a combination of sugars with little PAC. On the other hand, in the family of chocolates, we will use sugars with a high PAC, knowing that the dark coating and the cocoa tend to harden.
Types of sugars
It is the most common of sugars, affordable and easy to use. By international agreement it receives a value of 100 both for its sweetening power (POD) and for its antifreeze power (PAC). It is the base sugar, the gold standard for all other sugars. It has the drawback of crystallizing at low temperature. Sucrose crystals are very hard and affect the texture of ice cream. That is why it is never used alone but in combination with other sugars that are anti-crystallizing. Substituting 20% of sucrose for another anti-crystallizing sugar is sufficient to prevent the inconvenience of crystallization.
Lactose is the sugar in milk, specifically milk powder. It is the only sugar of animal origin. It is never used in its pure state, but rather as an integral part of powdered milk, which contains around 50%. It has the peculiarity of absorbing 10 times its weight of water. That is why an excess of lactose could result in a "dry" or "gritty" ice cream. It has little sweetening power, 16, but has the same PAC as sucrose, 100.
Corn derived sugars
Dextrose. It is the sugar that is obtained from the complete transformation of corn. It is a pure sugar and therefore only sugar. It comes in the form of a fine powder, it dissolves easily in cold water. Its POD is 70 and its PAC is 190. It has a very high antibacterial property, twice that of sucrose, which makes its use recommendable in fruit sorbets that are not pasteurized. Its low sweetness makes it advisable in ice creams with little dry matter such as fruit sorbets or aromatic herb infusions.
When dextrose loses its purity, some other element appears in its composition, such as starch, and is renamed glucose. If it looks like a thick paste, it is called glucose syrup. If it is in the form of fine dry powder, it is called atomized or dehydrated glucose. In ice cream, it is preferable to use atomized glucose, since its handling is easier. There is more than one glucose. That is why all glucoses carry the acronym D.E. (dextrose is equivalent to ante) depending on the amount of dextrose they contain. The higher the percentage of D.E. the higher your POD and PAC will be. The professional can soften or harden an ice cream using one or another type.
Below 20 DE we find a new name: Maltodextrin. They are practically starches, with little sweetening power, but they will be useful as thickeners in the family of ice creams with liqueurs.
When the absence of dextrose is complete, we arrive at what we know as corn starch.
The process of heating water with sucrose by adding an acid and sodium bicarbonate, results in a liquid sugar that has undergone an inversion and hence its name. Because of this inversion, the resulting sugar is half fructose and half dextrose. Its POD is 130 and its PAC is 190. As it is a sweeter sugar than sucrose and has only 75% dry matter, its use is highly recommended in mixtures with excess dry residues such as chocolate, hazelnut and other nuts. Its high PAC helps us soften ice creams with a tendency to harden. It has anti-crystallizing property.
As its name indicates, it is the sugar that is extracted from fruits. Its POD is 170 and its PAC is 190. Due to its metallic taste, it is used exclusively in diet ice creams, due to its easy assimilation by the body without the need for prior metabolism and therefore without the need for insulin.
It is the most natural inverted sugar that exists, since it is the bees that carry out the inversion process and those that have taught us about it. It has the same properties as invert sugar. The characteristic flavor of honey forces us to use it on purpose, that is, when we want to make a specific ice cream with this taste.
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