Smoother texture and smaller ice crystals – why you should switch to lactose free milk powder

Smoother texture, fresher taste and significantly smaller ice crystals in ice cream! Regular milk powder has met its rival in Valio Eila® lactose free milk powders – Valio Senior Research Scientist Terhi Aaltonen explains why.

There, we’ve said it: lactose free milk powder creates more value and new better-for-you options in the ice cream market.

“We’ve found multiple interesting applications for our lactose free milk powders. Our research with regular milk powders and Valio Eila® lactose free milk powders shows that the latter significantly improve both the taste and texture of the final product”, says Valio’s Senior Research Scientist Terhi Aaltonen.

The most interesting research finding is linked to ice crystal size optimization.

“The bigger the ice crystals, the crunchier texture of the ice cream becomes. With lactose free milk powder, the ice crystal size becomes significantly smaller and unnoticeable in the mouth – less than 30 micrometres. With regular milk powder the number is much higher, more than 35 micrometres”, Aaltonen explains.

Figure 1. Ice crystal size in ice creams made with different powders (n=3). Ice crystals are bigger when using regular skimmed milk powder.

Lactose free milk powder makes ice crystal optimization easy

Feedback from customers using Valio Eila® lactose free milk powders has been positive. Not only is the ice cream structure consistently better, but it also remains excellent throughout the ice cream’s shelf life.

“With Valio Eila® powders, the ice cream structure lasts better all the way from production to trade and the final journey to consumer homes. Ice crystals can also occur when consumers re-freeze a slightly melted product, but Valio Eila® powders help reduce the crystallization”, Aaltonen says.

As an added bonus, the melting time in the mouth is significantly longer compared to ice cream made with standard milk powder.

The main factors impacting the ice crystal size during the product development phase are the recipe composition and the selected ingredients.

“A slower cooling rate during the production process will result in bigger ice crystals, but the amount of lactose and fat in the final product play a role as well: low-fat products have more ice crystals. With our lactose free powders, we’ve found a way to minimize all these problems.”

Decisively softer ice cream and smoother structure

Reducing the ice crystal size affects the texture and mouth feel of the ice cream. Enhancing these sensory attributes have an impact on customer experience and satisfaction.

“It was interesting to see how Valio Eila® lactose free milk powders bring out the pleasantly soft ice cream structure better than regular milk powder. Both Eila® PRO and SWEET work well in this area”, Aaltonen says.

Valio Eila® products are easy to incorporate into manufacturing processes and to use instead of regular milk powder.

“Both of these lactose free milk powders are easy to use as a replacement for regular skimmed milk powder. They bring sweet intensity to ice cream, and neither requires any changes in the manufacturing processes”, Aaltonen concludes.

Figure 2. Lactose free powders result in softer ice cream than regular skimmed milk powder.

Fresh natural flavour with Valio Eila® PRO and SWEET milk powders

Valio Eila® PRO and SWEET lactose free milk powders are manufactured from fresh Finnish milk with patented technology for an unchanged milk mineral composition.

“Removing part of the lactose from the milk gives it a natural, fresh and milky taste. In Valio Eila® PRO, sugar is more dispensed in the final recipe. While the neutral-flavoured Eila® PRO is high in protein and low in carbohydrates, Eila® SWEET brings a little sweeter twist to the mix”, Aaltonen explains.

Many lactose free milk powders tend to have hints of bitter or roasted flavours due to lactose free powders being very sensitive to both the heating processes as well as the parameters used in the drying process.

“Valio has a lot of experience in drying lactose-free powders. We control the process so that no undesirable flavours appear in the powder”, Aaltonen says.

With Valio Eila® lactose free milk powder, you get:

  • excellent, soft texture due to ice crystal size optimization
  • enhanced dairy odour, pure taste of milk, colour intensity and reduced melt rate
  • easily reformulated recipes and processes
  • ice cream with <0.01% lactose and lactose free package claim

Want to hear more?

Contact us to find out how lactose free milk powders benefit your business and operations.

Dennis van der Veer

Head of Customer DevelopmentContact our specialist for additional information, technical support and co-creation projects.

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