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

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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!

Resources: telegraph.co.uk, zmescience.com, cnn.com

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VocabularyPlay Game

bindingbiologicalcompromisingencaseextensivelyextractedfermentedgastrointestinalincorporatingingeniousmicroorganismspatentsaturated fatsavor
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Reading Comprehension (4 questions)

  1. What is the name of the protein that helps slow down the ice cream melting process? How does the protein work?
  2. What are some of the other benefits of using the protein?
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Critical Thinking Challenge

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

...
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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...

1166 Comments
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  • e13
    e13Tuesday, May 22, 2018 at 5:57 am
    Totally Radical!
    • madboizThursday, May 10, 2018 at 4:32 pm
      nice I don't have to eat over a bowl!
      • evievergreen
        evievergreenThursday, May 10, 2018 at 9:36 am
        Wow this is cool :D i <3 ice cream
        • RAINCOOLThursday, May 10, 2018 at 5:56 am
          This website is awesome
          • libster04
            libster04Wednesday, May 9, 2018 at 5:42 pm
            Amazing..
            • zytysynytu
              zytysynytuWednesday, May 2, 2018 at 9:41 am
              cool
              • sebastian room Wednesday, May 2, 2018 at 9:37 am
                i think that is what about you brian
                • hiWednesday, May 2, 2018 at 9:33 am
                  i see u
                  • savagekid932
                    savagekid932Saturday, March 24, 2018 at 2:03 pm
                    I SCREAM YOU SCREAM EVERYBODY SCREAM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! FOR NO MORE MELTING ICE CREAM
                    • catlover1527
                      catlover1527Friday, March 16, 2018 at 10:47 am
                      FINALLY!!!! I have been waiting for some on to invent this for YEARS!!!!!

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