Some things just make all kinds of sense: What goes up must come down. Planets orbit the sun. Order turns into chaos. Frozen things melt. Except, that is, when they don’t.
Japanese scientists seem to be breaking the laws of food and physics with their newest ice cream venture: popsicles that don’t melt for hours. The secret is strawberries. According to the daily newspaper Asahi Shimbun, scientists at Biotherapy Development Research Center Co., in Kanazawa, happened on the method almost entirely by accident.
The tragic 2011 earthquake and tsunami ravaged strawberry farms in Miyagi Prefecture, leaving a lot of unsellable fruit. The Research Center tried to find ways to use the damaged harvest, and recruited a local pastry chef to see what he could do with polyphenols, organic chemicals extracted from the berries.
When the chef added dairy cream to the strawberry polyphenol, he found that the mixture solidified “instantly,” which initially led to concerns that there might be something wrong with the fruit. Instead, Kanazawa University’s Tomihisa Ota told Asahi Shimbun, the substance has unique characteristics that make it ideal for melt-resistant ice cream. “Polyphenol liquid has properties to make it difficult for water and oil to separate,” he said. “A popsicle containing it will be able to retain the original shape of the cream for a longer time than usual and be hard to melt.”
The resulting popsicle (available, it seems, in chocolate, vanilla, and mango—but not strawberry?) has been on sale in Kanazawa, Osaka, and Tokyo since April, and appears to deliver on its promise. Even under the heat of a hand dryer, it retains its shape while “tasting cool.”