British scientists develop slow-melting ice cream

A Christmas elf poses with an ice cream and a toy reindeer during a promotional event to launch the Selfridges Christmas Shop in their flagship store in central London on Aug 3. With 142 shopping days until Christmas, Selfridges is the first store to
A Christmas elf poses with an ice cream and a toy reindeer during a promotional event to launch the Selfridges Christmas Shop in their flagship store in central London on Aug 3. With 142 shopping days until Christmas, Selfridges is the first store to open it's festive department this year. PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (AFP) - The summer scourge of sticky hands could become a thing of the past as British researchers announced the discovery of an ingredient to make slow-melting ice cream on Monday.

The protein BslA, which occurs naturally in some food, helps to blend the components of ice cream to make it smoother and more resistant to melting.

"The protein binds together the air, fat and water in ice cream, creating a super-smooth consistency," the University of Edinburgh announced in a statement.

Developed by researchers at the Scottish universities of Edinburgh and Dundee, the ingredient could be available within three to five years.

"We're excited by the potential this new ingredient has for improving ice cream, both for consumers and for manufacturers," Professor Cait MacPhee, of the University of Edinburgh's school of physics and astronomy.

It can also help to keep ice cream frozen, so it remains creamy and smooth without gritty ice crystals forming.

Manufacturers could also be enabled to make ice cream with fewer calories and saturated fat, according to the research.

The scientists developed a way to produce the protein using friendly bacteria.

"Childhood memories of sticky hands from melting ice cream cones could soon become obsolete," the university statement read.