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  HOME | Science, Nature & Technology

Japan Finds Key to Melt-Proof Ice Cream in Strawberries

TOKYO – Japanese scientists discovered in strawberries the secret to melt-proof ice cream, which on a scorching Tuesday was put to the test by EFE journalists on the ground.

Creamy in texture, the ice cream does not drip, and can be thus shaped into a flower, a lollipop or the Kumamon bear, as confirmed by EFE journalists, who valiantly sacrificed themselves to the terrible fate of eating interesting ice cream in 30 degree (86F) weather.

Saki Edamatsu, the communications director of the Kanagawa Biotechnology Development Research Center, which owns the patent to the tasty treat, told EFE on Tuesday that the secret was in the strawberries’ natural polyphenols, which prevent the oil and water present in ice creams from separating and allow it to retain its shape and flavor despite exposure to heat.

The ice cream, which went viral on social media, has been available for consumption since April in three establishments in Japan: Kanazawa city, south of Tokyo, from where the initiative took off, Osaka and Tokyo’s trendy Harajuku district.

Some people have even dared to blow artificial heat on it using dryers and other equipment, but all showed the same result: the ice cream does not melt.

Polyphenols are compounds biosynthesized by plants (fruits, seeds or stems) with antioxidant properties and, in the case of strawberries, an extraordinary capacity to bind oil and water, two elements present in ice creams.

“When they are cold, the two substances remain together, but when heated they separate. Adding the polyphenol from strawberry makes it possible to keep them together because it prevents the separation of water,” explained Edamatsu.

This property was accidentally discovered by Emeritus Professor of Pharmacy at the University of Kanazawa, Tomihisa Ota, who decided to study whether this substance, with recognized antioxidant effects and already applied in cosmetics, could have uses beyond the beauty sector.

It all started when the center received a complaint from a confectioner in northeast Japan who had been asked to experiment with a sample of the substance to create a healthier cream; the chef noticed that the cream had solidified instantly when adding the strawberry polyphenol.

“A normal cream needs a few minutes to assemble, but the cream with strawberry polyphenol did it in about ten seconds, a finding that the baker informed us of, triggering an in-depth study of the topic,” said Edamatsu.

The company then proposed to use the compound in ice cream, leading to the genesis of Kanazawa Ice and more than 30,000 units being sold every month.

After its success in Japan, the center is currently considering expanding the business abroad, though no specific dates have been decided for the international marketing of these desserts, said Edamatsu.

 

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