As for the process itself, below is the inside-scoop of what we did. Here’s the breakdown:
We arrived at the food innovation studio’s ice cream lab in the morning. Even though we’re working with mainly bananas, the equipment and procedure are the same as traditional ice cream (rather than using a different technique for a frozen yogurt) – we want creamy, people!
We began by comparing our initial formulas, three to start. Their compositions mimicked successful brands in the market, and varied in fat content, protein, sugar, etc. The common theme was that they had bananas as the main ingredient, and only included simple recognizable ingredients to complement.
Once organized, we measured and mixed our batches. We pasteurized each one (cooking it for a few minutes at 80°C), and ran it through the homogenizer to make the mix as smooth as possible. After all three batches were completed, we let them chill overnight to be ready for Day 2.
Back at the studio, we used the small scale ice cream maker to do test batches. Within each mix, we aimed to achieve different levels of “overrun” (i.e., percentage of air whipped in). To give an idea, top premium brands in pints tend to have an overrun of 40%, while economy brands have even 100% or more.
With the smaller machine, and fewer controls on it, it was more challenging to get ideal overrun. However, it was a good start to seeing how the formulas performed.
Now for the results:
Batch #1 had a lower fat content. It came out delicious, but not quite as smooth as we’d like. Maybe just an ingredient change could improve it.
Batch #2 had more fat, and came out super smooth and creamy. It had a great flavour, though it needed a higher overrun. My favorite!
In Batch #3, too much starch was added in (my mistake!), and the mix was too firm to process. However, once chilled it had a crème brûlée-like texture and a wonderful flavour… if we could have it self-stable, it's almost another product. We’ll focus on the ice cream for now, though.
All in all, they each had their merits, they were an excellent start to proving this type of ice cream is possible, and they were a great step toward creating a consumer-ready product that’s decadent and better for you.
Our Next Step
Our food scientist will consult with a leading expert in ice cream science and analyze the results in detail. We have one more batch trial budgeted and scheduled in the next few weeks. The success of it will determine whether we scale-up (taste-testing event!) or keep tweaking with more trials.
Either way, more ice cream is definitely involved.