These are substances which help the stable emulsions between two immiscible liquids such as oil and water. They concentrate at the boundaries between the two liquids and act by reducing the surface tension of the system; these effects result in smaller ice crystals and the formation of a smoother final texture. They also improve whipping ability and give a drier ice cream. In excess they slow the melt-down.

Monodiglycerides and distilled monodiglycerides are in common use in ice cream but are not necessarily the most suitable. Sorbitan esters have also been used, and often blends of several types are employed. Dairy products and eggs contain natural emulsifying agents, but these have only theoretical importance; pasteurisation may largely denature the naturally occurring emulsifying effect. Some stabilisers also have a certain emulsifying effect. Many suppliers offer combined emulsifier/stabiliser systems for ice cream. Whichever type is used, it should be selected carefully to avoid problems associated with flavour or melting point effects. In general, glyceryl monostearate can be used at a level of 0.5-0.6% of the total mix.

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