Extracts of the humble okra or ‘bhindi’ can help your ice cream last longer by acting as a stabiliser in the sweet delicacy, a new study suggests.

While okra has been widely used as a vegetable for soups and stews, the study by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) in Chicago, shows how okra extracts can be used as a stabiliser in ice cream.

Ice cream quality is highly dependent on the size of ice crystals.

As ice cream melts and refreezes during distribution and storage, the ice crystals grow in size causing ice cream to become courser in texture which limits shelf life.

Stabilisers are used to maintain a smooth consistency, hinder melting, improve the handling properties, and make ice cream last longer.

The study found that water extracts of okra fibre can be prepared and used to maintain ice cream quality during storage.

These naturally extracted stabilisers offer an alternative food ingredient for the ice cream industry as well as for other food products, researchers said.

The study was published in the Journal of Food Science.