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Published in Applied Research
Okra extracts may increase ice cream shelf-life
While okra has been widely used as a vegetable for soups and stews, a new study in the Journal of Food Science, published by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), shows how okra extracts can be used as a stabilizer in ice cream. 
Ice cream quality is highly dependent on the size of ice crystals. As ice cream melts and refreezes during distribution and storage, the ice crystals grow in size causing ice cream to become courser in texture which limits shelf life. Stabilizers are used to maintain a smooth consistency, hinder melting, improve the handling properties, and make ice cream last longer.
In this study, the effects of varying concentrations (0.00%, 0.15%, 0.30%, and 0.45%) of okra cell wall (OKW) and its corresponding water-soluble polysaccharide (OKP) on the physical characteristics of ice cream were determined. Ice cream mix viscosity was measured as well as overrun, meltdown, and consumer acceptability.
Ice recrystallization was determined after ice cream was subjected to temperature cycling in the range of −10° to −20°C for 10 cycles. Mix viscosity increased significantly as the concentrations of OKW and OKP increased. The addition of either OKW or OKP at 0.15% to 0.45% significantly improved the melting resistance of ice cream. OKW and OKP at 0.15% did not affect sensory perception score for flavour, texture, and overall liking of the ice cream. OKW and OKP (0.15%) reduced ice crystal growth to 107% and 87%, respectively, as compared to 132% for the control (0.00%). Thus, the results suggested the potential use of OKW and OKP at 0.15% as a stabilizer to control ice cream quality and retard ice recrystallization. OKP, however, at 0.15% exhibited greater effect on viscosity increase and on ice recrystallization inhibition than OKW.
In conclusion, this study found that water extracts of okra fiber can be prepared and used to maintain ice cream quality during storage. These naturally extracted stabilizers offer an alternative food ingredient for the ice cream industry as well as for other food products.