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Mousses optimise ice cream plant utilisation.

As demand for ready-made desserts accelerated last year - with 23 percent increase in sales - Mintel published a report on buying factors. They found that when choosing a ready-made dessert, consumers look for products which are convenient, suitable for the whole family and which contain a minimum of artificial ingredients.

This is why light, aerated desserts such as mousses have proved to be particularly successful. They offer a lighter alternative to ice cream or frozen yoghurt, can be made with mainly natural ingredients and are suitable for the whole family. In 1990, mousses represented 40 percent of sales by volume of all chilled desserts.

Mousse manufacturing follows the same procedure as ice cream and can be made using the same equipment. This can provide ice cream manufacturers with an interesting business opportunity - optimizing the utilisation of their plant at times of the year when ice cream sales are low, or simply to extend their range of products without having to invest in costly new equipment.

A mousse is essentially composed of butter or vegetable fats - similar to those used in ice cream - milk solids non fat, and sugar. To obtain good air distribution and creaminess emulsifiers and stabilisers are also used.

There is a large number of stabilisers available on the market today; most os those used in the dairy industry are hydrocolloids. Hydrocolloids have different properties and can be divided into three categories: natural (extracts from plant or animal sources), modified (chemically altered gums) and synthetic (few are suitable for food use).

In the case of chilled or frozen mousses, stabilisers also have to be able to reduce the effects of temperature fluctuation during handling of the product - knowm as |heat shock' - and prevent separation of water, or syneresis, without losing any of their gelling qualities during pasteurisation. Manufacturers also have to consider buying costs and check the stabiliser they choose will work with existing equipment.

Gelatin and carrageenan are the most commonly used gelling agents for mousses. From a technological point of view, food manufacturers tend to prefer gelatin as it offers the best processing conditions; it is also produces a soft elastic gel which melts in the mouth, therefore releasing flavours very easily. Gelatin also has a neutral taste, and is incompatible with the majority of other colloids, sugars, polysaccharides and flavourings. This allows precise control of taste and texture.

Another useful attribute of gelatin is that, being a natural protein extracted from animal collagen, it is regarded as a foodstuff in its own right. Unlike most other functional ingredients, therefore, it has no E number, leading to friendly ingredients listing on product packaging.

The basic steps are mixing, pasteurisation, homogenisation, stabilisation/ageing, whipping and pack filling. Once the ingredients have been combined, the mixture is pasteurised then homogenised at a pressure 25 percent lower than that used for ice cream. For bacteriological reasons and to avoid |gellification', tha mix should be kept in an ageing vat for the shortest possible time.

When whipping in an ice cream freezer, fine or coarse air distribution can be obtained: the mix is cooled or frozen at below 0 [Degree] C, and during this process air is whipped into the mousse.

Heat shock tends to cause moisture to migrate. This results in ice crystal formation, which can give the mixture a grainy coarse texture. Migration can be prevented by using gelatin which helps maintain the smooth tecture of the product. Gelatin also controls syneresis and slows down the melting process.

Finally, filling the mousse into packaging should take place immediately after aeration in order to disturb the setting of the gel.

Mousse produced in an ice cream freezer can be stored and disturbed in the same way as ice cream, or as a chilled product.

Although there are no obvious healthy eating trenda in the ready-made dessert sector - as indulgence is still one of the main influences on purchase - it is possible to manufacture mousses with no fat content. This is possible by increasing the amount of gelatin as the fat level is reduced, to give the finished product the same creamy, |melt in the mouth' texture as full-fat products.

Many ice cream manufacturers are spending a lot of money on brand promotion in the Winter to level out demand for their products all year round. Considering mousse manufacturing at times of low ice cream production can offer a cost effective alternative and could help improve profits.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Food Trade Press Ltd.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Food Trade Review
Date:Mar 1, 1992
Words:736
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