How to stabilize ice creams and sorbets?


To start talking about the stabilization of ice creams and sorbets, it is necessary to know what is ice cream? And above all know what are the base ingredients to make them.

As a general definition, ice-cream is a mixture of solid and liquid products subjected to a negative temperature, in which it maintains its soft, creamy and airy texture.

And for its formulation we need to gather some basic ingredients for each recipe. Balancing these ingredients is essential and for this it is necessary to take into account the composition of each of them.

The result must be a 100% stabilization to be able to stay at low temperatures and that its texture when removed from the freezer allows service and consumption in the best conditions.

The fundamental ingredients in ice-cream

The fundamental ingredients involved in the preparation and stabilization of ice cream are air, water, sugars, fat, antifreeze, solids and liquids. In this post we will essentially talk about some of them and we will complement them with the phases through which an ice-cream develops.

We must take into account that in the preparation of two identical ice creams, if we use the same formula and the same process, but nevertheless we start with ingredients of different quality in each case, the final result of both products will be different in terms of flavor and scent.

Therefore, in order to make and stabilize top-quality ice-cream, that is, one that meets the most demanding requirements in terms of flavour, texture and temperature, it is essential to apply the correct technique and carry out the most appropriate manufacturing process. But it is no less important to have the best ingredients that we can find.

Air: the lightness of ice-cream

Without air, ice cream would be a compact mass. Air provides ice cream with a soft and delicate texture that allows it to melt on the palate in a homogenous and smooth manner.

The air does not weigh, it is unfreezable and it is also an insulator. In the maturation phase, a small amount of air is incorporated into the mix, but the greatest amount arrives naturally during the freezing by stirring at the time of cooling.

Air reduces the cold sensation of ice cream, enhancing its flavour.

Artisanal ice cream has an average overrun of 25-35%. Industrial ice cream may have as much as a 100% increase in volume.


Water, regardless of the ingredients it comes from, is the main ingredient of ice cream.

Achieving the ideal texture and balance requires 55 to 70% water. Where does this water come from? In traditional ice cream this water was mainly incorporated as actual water or milk.

Currently, apart from the water that we add directly to a straw, in ice cream we find water in milk (88%), in cream (60%), or in fruit (80-90%), among others. Water is the only ingredient in the mixture that freezes from 0ºC.

In a mix, the water-solids mixture has to be as homogeneous as possible, preventing water from being left in its pure state, that is, free.


The first thing that should be said about sugars is that without them there could be no such thing as ice cream. Sugars have several technological roles in ice cream:

  • Anti-freeze agents.
  • Solids contribution.
  • Enhances flavour.
  • Binding effect.
  • Difficult overrun in large quantities.

With respect to texture, the various sugars each have different crystals, resulting in different textures, and also have a certain “binding” power that adds to the texture of the ice cream. In general, it is considered that the sugar content of the mixture should be between 14 and 24% of the total. Accordingly, they constitute the majority of the “solids” in the mixture.

Additionally, too much sugar would make it difficult to incorporate air.

The sweetening power (SP) and the anti-freezing power (AFP) of sugars are calculated in terms of sucrose. This data is very important to calculate and balance the hardness or softness of ice cream in the freezing process.

Sugar content in ice creams is 14-24% (nuts semi-sorbets 14%).

SP 16-22% (sweetening effect)

It is calculated based on common sugars (sucrose): 100%
Depending on the type of sugar, the following features are achieved:

  • Dextrose, glucose, fructose and inverted sugar provide a soft, smooth, small crystal consistency.
  • Sucrose and lactose provide hardness, forming large crystals.
  • Glucose and maltodextrin provide a greater binding or gummy effect.

AFP 24-42% (anti-freeze power)

– 10 °C. 24-26% AFP

– 14 °C. 24-32% AFP

– 18 °C. 40-42% AFP

Now we will analyse sugars in relation to how useful their properties are for ice cream.

The main properties are included in the table:

Sugar (sucrose)100%100%100%
Glucose powder 33 DE94%56%24%
Liquid sugar
Liquid glucose 40 DE80%76%45%77,4%
Inverted sugar70%190%125%72%


The main antifreeze that is currently used in ice cream preparation is glycerine.


Antifreeze is mainly used to decrease the sweetness of an ice cream (premium or savoury ice creams) or for ice creams with a high degree of fat (chocolate or nuts).


Fat varies from 3 to 12%; in our opinion the ideal amount is 6 to 12%.

Min: 0 (sorbets).

Max: 12%.

Lipids imbue ice cream with different properties:

  • They increase body. They contribute to an increase in volume.
  • Increase the total dry residue of the ice cream.
  • Help to obtain a good freeze resistance.
  • They significantly reduce the cold sensation at the moment of consumption.
  • Too much fats reduce the taste of the other foods.
  • They help to incorporate air to obtain a softer and creamier texture due to emulsion.
  • In large amounts they reduce volume. They make the texture softer.

Ice cream used to contain a mixture of several fats (egg, milk fats…), which distorted its flavour. The current trend is to make ice cream with monounsaturated fats and/or neutral fats to preserve the purity of the ice cream taste.

Solids and liquids

The percentage of liquids in an ice cream is between 60-70%
The liquids in an ice cream mixture are essentially in:

  • Milk.
  • Cream.
  • Fruit juice.
  • Water.

The solids in an ice cream mixture are essentially in:

  • Sugars.
  • Fat.
  • Neutral stabilisers.
  • Powdered milk.

They give the ice cream body and chewability. By absorbing water they help to provide a sensation of less cold without ice crystals. Too many solids make for a heavy and wet ice-cream. If all the solids are not dissolved by the liquid, the ice cream is grainy.

The phases of ice-cream preparation

Now that we have all the ingredients of the ice cream mixture and we have a balanced recipe, we can start the preparation process, which consists of combining the various ingredients into a single whole in the following phases:


Pasteurisation eliminates the bacterial load and allows for easier homogenisation of the ingredients, dispersing the sugars and fats into tiny particles.

Pasteurisation consists of raising the temperature of the ingredients to 85 °C and then quickly lowering it to 4 °C.


Maturing consists of letting the mixture stand at 4 °C with slow stirring to allow all the gelling substances to complete their action. A six-hour period is ideal for good maturity


Churning consists of freezing and emulsifying the liquid mixture to obtain a doughy or creamy mixture through cold and the incorporation of air. It is important for the churning process to be completed as quickly as possible.


After the doughy mixture has been churned it is at a temperature of -8 °C. To stabilise the liquid of the mixture and prevent the formation of ice crystals it is necessary to lower the temperature of this mixture as quickly as possible to -18 °C.


Ice-cream and sorbet stabilizers are complex mixtures of thickeners, emulsifiers, gelling agents and aerators that give us perfect ice cream or sorbet textures with great ease of application. Always with the utmost respect for the flavor that you want to texturize.

Sosa stabilising agents for ice cream and sorbets

As important information: The number following the product name indicates the measurement per litre of liquid.

The hot or cold distinction refers to how the product is used. If used cold, the product can only be integrated through strong shaking. If used hot, the mixture should be more than 80 °C but not exceed 90 °C.

As part of its commitment to quality and innovation, Sosa Ingredients presents Profiber Stab 5, a cold and hot stabilizer for ice creams and sorbets that dispenses with synthetic emulsifiers and additives. This product, made entirely of vegetable fiber, is perfect for those in search of more natural, sustainable solutions in today’s modern cuisine.

For more information you can read the entry: Profiber Stab 5 – Stabilizer for ice cream and sorbets, free from synthetic emulsifiers and additives, uses 100% plant-based fibers

Other stabilizers within our catalogue:

For ice-cream we recommend:

Procrema 5 Bio Hot: Mixture of stabilizers used in eco-friendly elaborations.

Procrema 100 Cold/Hot Natur: Mixture of stabilizers, thickeners, proteins, fibers and sugars to stabilize ice cream naturally both hot and cold.

For sorbets we recommend:

Prosorbet 5 Cold/Hot Natur: Mixture of stabilizers and emulsifiers.

Prosorbet 100 Cold Natur: Mixture of stabilizers, thickeners, fibers and sugars to stabilize sorbet naturally in cold 7.

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