Ice cream is awesome. Melting ice cream on the other hand, not so much. Luckily, sticky hands and brain freeze may soon be a thing of the past: Scientists have discovered a naturally occurring protein that can be used to create ice cream that's more resistant to melting than our current varieties. This is not a drill.
Researchers at the Universities of Edinburgh and Dundee have developed a method of producing the new protein—known as BsIA—in friendly bacteria, and they're estimating that ice cream made with the ingredient could be available within three to five years.
"This is a natural protein already in the food chain," lead researcher Cait MacFee, of the University of Edinburgh's school of physics and astronomy, told the BBC. "It's already used to ferment some foods, so it's a natural product rather than being a 'Frankenstein' food."
The protein basically has super powers: It works by binding together the air, fat, and water in ice cream to help keep it frozen—even in hot weather. It may also help prevent those annoying ice crystals from forming, so your ice cream never loses that lux, super-smooth texture. Plus, the development could allow products to be manufactured with lower levels of saturated fats and fewer calories without effing with the taste.
I know. And the environmental impact this discovery could have is just as exciting: Using the ingredient means ice cream can be processed without loss of performance, and can be produced from sustainable raw materials.
It could also mean a reduced need to deep freeze the product, since the protein would keep the ice cream frozen for a longer period of time. This would make it (much) easier to distribute, potentially decreasing waste and saving store owners oodles of money on energy.
"We're excited by the potential this new ingredient has for improving ice cream, both for consumers and for manufacturers," MacPhee said in a statement. Dear science: We love you.
As for your non-melting ice cream falling off the cone five years from now, you're on your own.
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