Ice Cream That Does Not Melt (Immediately)? Sweet!

By Meera Dolasia on September 3, 2015

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Melting ice cream on a bridge (Photo Credit: By HTO (Own Work) via Wikimedia Commons

What's better than a scoop of ice cream on a hot summer day? How about one that doesn't melt into a sticky puddle within minutes? That, believe it or not, could soon become a reality thanks to the ingenious scientists at the Universities of Edinburgh and Dundee.

The secret behind this amazing ice cream that could hit grocery shelves within three years, is a naturally occurring protein called BsIA (Bacterial Surface Layer A). Present in foods like Natto, a Japanese breakfast made from fermented soybeans, it is extracted from the Bacillus subtilis bacteria. The scientists who revealed the exciting news on August 31, say that the microorganisms use the BsIA protein to encase and protect their colonies.

Bacillus subtilis via Wikipedia commons

University of Edinburgh's Cait MacPhee, who is leading this sweet effort, says the protein works perfectly for ice cream. That's because it has the physical properties to "protect" the frozen treat by binding together the air, fat, and water. This makes the ice cream more resistant to melting and allows it to remain firm for longer periods of time, even during hot summer days.

As if that is not good enough, the researchers say it also prevents ice crystals from forming. This they believe will allow manufacturers to produce ice creams that are lower in saturated fat and calories without compromising on the texture or flavor. Additionally, the protein will also help reduce their energy costs because the ice cream does not have to be kept as chilled when it is being made or transported.

Photo Credit: Kwekwe CC-BY-SA-3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

The icing on the cake or should we say ice cream ? Bacillus or hay subtilis as it is also called because of its presence in the upper layers of the soil, is a very common bacteria. It can be found everywhere - in water, air, ground and even our gastrointestinal tract. This means that it is a "friendly" bacteria and, therefore, perfectly safe to consume.

The researchers have published two papers on how the protein works. One outlines the biological process while the other talks about the physics. More importantly, they have extensively tested (and tasted) the ice creams incorporating the protein and even filed a patent for their process.

As to how long the ice cream will stay frozen? The scientists say that depends on the weather and the flavor. Though some may melt faster than others, they will still last a lot longer than current ice creams. This means we will finally be able to relax and savor the treat, one lick at a time - YUM!


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VocabularyPlay Game

bindingbiologicalcompromisingencaseextensivelyextractedfermentedgastrointestinalincorporatingingeniousmicroorganismspatentsaturated fatsavor

Reading Comprehension (4 questions)

  1. What is the name of the protein that helps slow down the ice cream melting process?
  2. How does the protein work?

Critical Thinking Challenge

Can you think of any other foods that this protein would be useful for?


Vocabulary in Context

“This means we will finally be able to relax and savor the treat, one lick at a time - YUM!”

In the above sentence, the word savor most likely means:

(a) the quality in a...

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  • dFriday, May 26, 2017 at 4:36 pm
    Good because my ice cream always melts before I finish eating it.
    • HUHU GshFriday, May 19, 2017 at 9:42 am
      Hi the ice cream looks so good I wish I could eat it
      • pickle65993621
        pickle65993621Tuesday, May 16, 2017 at 11:40 am
        I love ice cream
        • tyler1234567
          tyler1234567Thursday, May 11, 2017 at 9:47 am
          like this comment if you like ice cream
          • cute puppyWednesday, May 10, 2017 at 9:18 am
            cool i love ice cream especially mint chocolate chip
            • hpfan
              hpfanWednesday, May 10, 2017 at 7:52 am
              Thatś cool, but gross. Like, who eats ice cream of the ground?
              • savigequeen
                savigequeenWednesday, May 10, 2017 at 6:57 am
                my ice cream melts a lot
                • cutekittens11
                  cutekittens11Saturday, April 29, 2017 at 7:50 am
                  omg!! i want all that ice cream!!!!!!!!!!!! lol
                  • jlharper
                    jlharperThursday, April 20, 2017 at 10:38 am
                    i will get 1000 scoops and eat it all before it melts lol.
                  • tinkerbellFriday, April 14, 2017 at 5:31 am

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