Ice Cream Ireland

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Stuck on Sugar

Sugar Sachets In my last issue of the New Yorker (not THE last issue, since they get to me in Ireland about a month late), there as an article about sugar and sugar substitutes. I’ve written briefly here and here about our difficulties of trying to find a way to make a natural ice cream without sugar.

The writer of the article in the New Yorker pointed out some interesting facts:

1. That sugar is remarkably hard to substitute – its properties in adding bulk, behaving consistently at different temperatures, and just the good taste of it has befuddled scientists for a hundred years. It even seems that scientists will not be looking for the next generation of sweetener like Aspartame or Sucralose but rather will be looking for ways of finding additives that will increase the effect of sugar to enable people to use less.

2. That even with the huge increase of artificial sweeteners, the per capita intake of sugar has increase markedly over the last decades. People are eating artificial sweeteners by the ton AND eating more sugar.

We have looked at all sorts of options to try to make a product suitable for diabetics, including stevia, fructose, tapioca and other natural thickeners, and still we haven’t found anything that tastes good enough for us to consider.

In addition, the various diabetic associations including Diabetes Ireland seem to be against the idea of diabetic products and are much more interested in a balanced, low-fat diet. I can see why – in Dublin I came across a “Diabetic” chocolate bar that neglected to list the ingredients. I can understand how such products could lull people into a false sense of security.

This still leaves us coming up blank. I suppose one way would be to try to find a recipe for a gelato, which is naturally low in fat, and one that has reduced sugar as well. However, what do you add instead? Fruits contain sugar, chocolate adds bulk but contains fat, nuts do the same, and soon we are back at square one!

If anyone has any ideas…

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10 Responses to “Stuck on Sugar”

  1. June 1st, 2006 at 12:43 pm

    thedietitian says:

    Like your blog!
    On the diabetes thing, the best advice on diet is that people with diabetes should ‘eat well’. In other words, ordinary ice-cream is fine if your diet is healthy.
    Most dietitians should be up to date on concepts like the Glycaemic Index & Glycaemic load – measures of how quickly and how much foods affect blood sugar.
    Ice-cream is a medium GI food (ie fine if you don’t eat too much!)

  2. June 1st, 2006 at 12:44 pm

    thedietitian says:

    PS we’re New Yorker subscribers here too. Great read.

  3. June 1st, 2006 at 7:23 pm

    Kieran says:

    Thanks so much for that. Your comments are much appreciated. I guess we should figure out and post the sugar content and perhaps that’s enough for the moment…

  4. June 2nd, 2006 at 3:28 pm

    Orchid says:

    When dealing with milk-based products, it is sometimes useful to use powdered skim milk to add bulk into foods sweetened with sugar substitutes. I’ve had moderate success with homemade ice cream using Splenda, powdered milk, whole milk, and gelatin to thicken the mixture. It’s excellent when fresh but does tend to harden to fudgesicle density when it’s frozen solid. However, there may be a better consistency if one plays around with the proportions.

    The same goes for other creamy sweets, like cheesecake, which use milk-based products. Powdered milk works very well for the bulk but I don’t think it works so well for moisture absorption or texture of other types of sweets (like baked goods).

  5. June 3rd, 2006 at 1:02 pm

    Kieran says:

    Thanks for commenting! We don’t use milk powder normally as we would much rather have a fresh product, but I think that it is definitely something we could consider in making an ice cream more suitable for diabetics.

    It’s funny, I didn’t think of it at all, so thanks again!

  6. June 14th, 2006 at 2:23 pm

    Deb says:

    Lovely blog! Great subject, too.

    You might want to try Agave Nectar. It comes from the Agave cactus (famous for tequilla). It’s the lowest glycemic naturally occurring sugar and it’s flavor profile fits well with most anything. In cooking, you’ll need to cut the liquid by 1/3 and decrease temperatures by 25 degrees (F).

    I used it in ice milk this weekend, and it worked pretty well.

  7. July 17th, 2007 at 12:26 pm

    Floxy Faire says:

    The Only healthy sugar alternative is calLed “STEVIA” it is ZERO calories ZERO impact to the glycemic index. it is made from a PLANT–totally natural and 300 times sweeter than sugar and you can cook with it. No side affects because it is a plant. Great for Diabetics and everyone. it is found in a health food store. the only thing it doesn’t carmelize like regular sugar but who cares. it is indespensible in anyone kitchen whom is really serious sweet tooth with none of the guilt and since it’s not a chemical–it is a plant it’s totally has no side effects.

    it’s properties are the opposite of sugar. meaning while sugar is bad for teeth–stevia is good for teeth penetrates the teeth and strenghtens the enamel–it’s why they even make toothpaste out of it.

  8. July 17th, 2007 at 12:29 pm

    Floxy Faire says:

    oh i needed to mention–stevia comes in about 6 delicious flavors. chocolate raspberry, orange, orange-vanilla, vanilla, apricot nectar, just plain sweet, root beer. it’s great for making home-made ice cream, cakes, cookies, pies desserts. a real yummy alternative.

  9. March 20th, 2008 at 10:55 pm

    storm says:

    As a holistic health practitioner working with type 2 diabetics I don’t focus too much on the sugar aspects. I do encourage them to reduce their intake of sugar but would rather them have sugar than artificial sweeteners which are fatal to diabetics.

    Low fat is not the way to go. My clients eat healthy saturated fats in order to feel full. This reduces their intake of sugar in ice cream. I have several delicious ice cream recipes using coconut oil. As you’re aware one of the real dangers with ice cream is not the sugar but the vegetable oil which is used in most ice creams. That coupled with artificial sweeteners and soy products make for a dangerous combination for diabetics.

  10. August 20th, 2010 at 1:37 am

    Emma Hill says:

    we have a small stevia garden at home and the dried leaves are very very sweet:”-

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Kieran Murphy is a director of Murphys Ice Cream living in Dingle, Co. Kerry, Ireland.

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Murphys Ice Cream

Murphys Ice Cream has shops in Dingle, Killarney and Dublin 2 (Wicklow Street).