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The Future

Ice Cream of The Future | 6 New Ice Cream Innovations

After 2000 years of evolution, modern-day ice cream has changed a lot. As technology and our imaginations march forward, what might lie in store for the ice cream of the future?

From the frozen ‘milk ice’ of ancient China to the pure indulgence of a tub of Ben and Jerry’s, ice cream has come a long way from its humble origins. It’s a sweet treat that still captures the imagination of people the world over – and some of those imaginations are running wild when it comes to developing the next ice cream innovations.

     Learn about the origins and invention of ice cream

1. Dairy Free / Low Calorie

The two main ingredients in traditional ice cream are cream and sugar, making it a very high-calorie food. But in an increasingly health-conscious world, we’ve started to create ‘low-calorie’ ice creams (which contain less sugar and trade cream and full-fat milk for lower-fat skimmed milk), and even vegan ice creams which trade the dairy for plant-based milks like soy or coconut. In theory, these alternative recipes ought to make ice cream healthier; but since fat fills us up, low-calorie ice cream is often less satiating than traditional full-fat versions, so people tend to eat more of them in one sitting!1

2. New Flavours

On the other side of the coin, we’re also working to make even more luxurious ice creams with new inventive flavours. Ice cream could now be your starter rather than your pudding, thanks to the advent of savoury flavours like beetroot, basil and olive oil, or even replace your cocktail at the bar: UK-based ‘Cheers Ice Cream’ has a Mojito-flavoured number that, with an alcohol volume of 8.4%, might even get you feeling tipsy.2, 3 Adding alcohol reduces the freezing point of ice cream: too much, and the mixture might not freeze at all, but adding just the right amount helps the ice cream freeze slower, giving it an extra-creamy texture.

3. Two flavours for the price of one

Ever been stuck choosing between two flavours of ice cream, only to be forced to go for one scoop of each? Soon, you might not be forced to choose, if food development scientist Elizabeth Fenner and her new ‘flavour release’ ice cream have their way.

By wrapping up a cherry flavour inside tiny balls of gelatin and stirring it into vanilla ice cream (a process called microencapsulation), Fenner created a frozen treat which, on first taste, appears to be plain vanilla. But, as the heat of your mouth breaks down the capsules and releases the flavour inside, that same scoop of ice cream starts to taste of cherry instead.4 Move over Willy Wonka and your ‘three course meal’ gum – multi-flavour ice cream is way more exciting.

4. Non-melting ice cream

There’s nothing more heartbreaking than a child crying over a melting ice lolly. But ice cream innovators Bompas and Parr are planning to make such nightmares a thing of the past by creating an ice lolly that doesn’t melt! Their secret is to mix fruit fibres into the mixture before freezing it, which helps insulate the ice lolly from the inside and allows it to withstand an impressive 24 hours outside the freezer before melting.5 It’s a trick borrowed from the military, which tested using ‘pykrete’ (sawdust and wood shavings mixed with water and frozen) as a battlefield alternative for steel and concrete during World War II: the solid pieces frozen inside the ice reduce its ability to conduct and absorb heat, helping it stay frozen for longer.6

5. Colour changing ice cream

Beyond the sensible goals of making healthier, better-tasting and more practical ice creams, there are some truly wacky new forms of ice cream that no one expected to see. Take Xameleon, a unique ice cream which changes colour from blue to pink to purple as you eat it! Xameleon contains a host of carefully chosen natural colours (like carotene or anthocyanins) which react to the acidity and warmth of your mouth: licking the ice cream alters the chemistry of those ingredients, which is what drives the change in colour.7

6. Glow in the dark ice cream

Never ones to be outdone, Bompas and Parr came up with an even more outrageous idea – ice cream that glows in the dark. By adding a fluorescent protein found in jellyfish to the mix (which gives off a green glow under UV light), they managed to create a Halloween-inspired treat that lights up in a dark room. Even more spectacularly, the protein needs to be ‘activated’ by heat and physical movement before it glows, meaning this ice cream only lights up when you lick it!8 Truly an ice cream of the future, it is sadly also priced as such – setting you back a whopping $225 a scoop.

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