Mackie’s goes under the microscope to test ice cream improvements

Mackie's of Scotland Traditional Ice Cream

SCIENTISTS have put Scotland’s best-selling ice cream brand under the microscope, to understand the impact of its new state-of-the-art freezer system on the smoothness of its ice cream.

By measuring the size of its ice crystals through a 200-times magnified lens, Mackie’s of Scotland has been able to get a better understanding of how its ice crystals have shrunk, as a result of switching to its new Starfrost freezing system.

The system can freeze faster which has not only made the ice crystals smaller but they are now also rounded, with Dr Kerr Matthews, Lecturer in Pharmaceutical Sciences at Robert Gordon University (RGU) corroborating the results – which will create a smoother, creamier “mouthfeel”.

He further explains that Ostwald ripening – the scientific term for ice-crystal growth on production or storage – will also be significantly reduced through use of the new efficient freezer system.

This means that ice cream is less prone to becoming more icy, (growing more ice crystals) while in freezers in stores or in the distribution system.

Dr Matthews, said: “We found the ice crystals in ice cream from the new freezer to be smaller and rounder due to the faster and more efficient freezing time. The less angular and more spherical ice crystals result in a smoother texture and creamier taste of the ice cream.”

The new spiral freezer is just one component of the £4.5m Low Carbon Refrigeration project underway at Mackie’s of Scotland – with the final stages of biomass and an absorption chiller expected to be fitted in the coming weeks.

The innovative new system is anticipated to reduce the family farm’s energy use and CO2 emissions by up to 80%. It started transitioning to the new ammonia run system during lockdown in 2020.

Kirstin McNutt, Development Director with Mackie’s of Scotland, said: “Our ice cream has always been known for its smoothness due to the real dairy ingredients.

“We are delighted to find that the new freezer has elevated this even further – making the taste and texture ever better for our consumers!

“It’s a win-win situation with the investment in a more efficient and more environmentally friendly refrigeration solution – also leading to better quality along with increased capacity.

“It was fantastic to be able to see the ice crystals – this is something I’ve been working on for years and Dr Matthews has now been able to show us real images, it’s fascinating to see the theory come to life with the microscopic slide evidence.”

Mackie’s of Scotland has been climate positive since 2007. Its renewable energy is derived from a mix of wind, solar and biomass energy that produce over 8.5 GWh of electricity each year.

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