Summer is over, but high-protein ice cream and frozen yogurt is in.
That creaminess that makes ice cream so decadent can also suffer when raising protein content.
In fact, this is a challenge with ice cream in general. “Getting the correct ingredient mix that will not have an effect on mix viscosity, whip-ability, fat agglomeration, water immobilization, and flavor is essential,” says Glanbia Nutritionals’ Vicky Fligel. “Another key challenge,” she adds, “is around freeze concentration, when water is frozen into ice during the freezing process. This will impact sensory characteristics such as smoothness, creaminess, and, most importantly, clean flavor.”
Representatives from Ben & Jerry’s, whose Greek Frozen Yogurt line delivers the higher protein content of Greek yogurt (4-6 g of protein per serving), describes how it overcame this obstacle. “Initially, we were looking to have a high protein content, but as we developed the product, we realized that having too high a protein level would compromise creaminess. Ice cream is best when all of the components are balanced, meaning the ice, fat, protein, and sugar content is in the right ratio to give the best-quality product. Too much protein can upset the balance and lead to unpleasant, grainy textures.”
To solve this, the company lowered the protein level a bit-which is still high, by typical ice cream standards-in order to preserve the creaminess without relying on extra stabilizers or other texturizing ingredients. Consumers can still enjoy the intrinsic higher protein content of Greek yogurt. (Ben and Jerry’s protein comes naturally from the fresh, non-fat Greek yogurt, skim milk, and cream added to the ice cream base and not through added milk or whey protein.)
“Associating protein and nutrition with ‘Greek’ is beneficial from a marketing perspective, as consumers increasingly understand that Greek-style products deliver at least twice the protein of conventional products,” Glanbia's Fligel says.
Photo courtesy of Ben & Jerry's