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Balancing

Introduction

A balanced recipe is one that achieves a desirable texture, creaminess, flavor, sweetness, and firmness. These characteristics are influenced by the choice of ingredients and their proportions, which are collectively referred to as the working ratio. This working ratio specifies the percentages of each ingredient used, such as Cream 30%, Milk 40%, Sugar 15%, and so on.

To create a well-balanced recipe, it is essential to calculate the precise quantity of each ingredient, a process known as “balancing the recipe.” To perform this calculation, we utilize what is known as the functional ratio. The functional ratio involves the interplay of ice cream properties like fat, sugar, solids, MSNF (Non-fat Milk Solids), among others.

The approach involves establishing a set of target functional properties that the ice cream should exhibit. These targets differ based on the type of ice cream being crafted; for instance, Gelato has distinct target properties compared to regular ice cream or sorbet.

The calculator offers various tools to manipulate ingredient quantities, and it is often advisable to begin with automatic balancing and then fine-tune the recipe manually.

This post will mainly focus on the different tools and methods available in the calculator to balance a recipe and not so much on the exact properties for different types of ice creams.

Target properties

So, before you start balancing a recipe you need to decide on a set of target properties you like the recipe to have. These properties are usually different depending on the type and flavor of ice cream you are making. They are also very much a personal choice so there are no strict rules what these parameters are. However there are some general guidelines you can follow and in the calculator there are several different charts to select from. The charts contains the target properties and it is the charts and panels that the automatic balancing uses.
In the calculator there is a drop down with the available charts and there is an Online charts button where you can download charts for different types of ice cream. You should view these charts as a starting point and adjust them to your personal style. If you open the online charts there is a description with every chart that explains what it is used for.

When you get used to using the charts you will eventually like to modify them and fine tune them to your needs.

Charts and Panels

The chart and panels display Data items. In the chart this data item is displayed as a bar with the current value of the recipe. In the panels it displays the current value.
If you set a range to the Data item it will be used in the automatic balancing. If no range is set it will be ignored. Also, if the same property exists both in the chart and in the panels the property in the chart will be used in the balancing.
When a data item (property) has a range they are color coded. So, if the current recipe is inside the range the color is green and if it is outside it is red. If no range has been set it is yellow.
You can set both a Min value and/or a Max value for every item.

When creating you own charts or adjusting existing charts there are a few important things to consider.

  • Avoid conflicting properties. For example don’t set the Total fat target larger than Total solids.
  • Make sure the recipe has the property. For example if you don’t have any emulsifiers in the recipe don’t use a target property for emulsifiers.
  • Make sure the recipe contains enough ingredients to perform the balancing. For example if you only have one sucrose as the only sugar in the recipe it will be hard to control both sweetness and hardness (POD and Serving temp).
  • Adjust the ranges of the target properties. The tighter the ranges are the more exact you can control the recipe properties but the balancing will be more difficult. So, decide what is most important and set tighter ranges there and relax ranges on properties that are not as important.
  • Take notes and record the recipes you make and adjust the charts to improve.
  • Base charts on successful recipes. If you make a perfect chocolate ice cream use the resulting properties and base a chart on them to use for future recipes.

Guiding the balancing

When balancing you will use the chart and panels and set ranges for the data properties to control the balancing. You can also control individual ingredients by setting min/max ranges or locking the weight excluding it from automatic balancing.

Target min/max ranges

When you add a Data item to the chart or a panel you can set min and/or max values for that data. If min and/or max is enabled this data item will be used in the automatic balancing.
If you set both min and max the value must be inside this range to be valid.
If you only set min then the value must be equal or greater than the min value to be valid.
If you only set max then the value must be equal or less than the max value to be valid.
So, this is how you control the automatic balancing.

Lock ingredient

To exclude an ingredient from the automatic balancing you can lock it. This is done with the square to the right of the ingredient name. Clicking this box will toggle it from Green to Red. When it is green the weight is allowed to be changed by the balancing and when it is red the balancing is not allowed to change the weight.
This is an important feature and you should use it to exclude for example flavoring ingredients from the balancing.
For example, if you make a chocolate ice cream you know you need a certain amount of chocolate to get the correct flavor. If you don’t lock this ingredient the balancing might reduce or increase it. This is not what you want!

Above the ingredient Hazelnut paste has been locked and will not be changed when balancing.

Ingredient min/max ranges

Another way to control ingredients is to set a min and max value for the Weight % of that ingredient. So, instead of locking it you can allow a certain range.
Instead of locking the Hazelnut paste in the above image we can set a range instead. It can look like this where we will allow the weight of the Hazelnut paste to be between 8% and 10% of the final recipe.

Min % and Max % can be changed in the table or by dragging the “red” dots in the W% trackbar.

Important! Some ingredients in the default database has both min and max set to 0%. This is usually set for flavor ingredients and if you don’t change this in the recipe they will not change when balancing. So, if an ingredient is Locked OR min=max=0% the weight will not change when balancing.

Manual balancing

Manual balancing just means that you manually change the recipe until you are within acceptable values for the targets you have set up. There are multiple ways to modify the weight of the ingredients and most of the are interactive so you can see in real time how it affects the chart and panels. The Undo/Redo system is also very useful here to undo changes that did not work out.

Weight

The easiest way is just to change the weight of the selected ingredient. You can do this with the slider above the recipe or by typing in the weight in the Weight edit.

You can also press the “…” button above the recipe for more weight tools.

If you just press OK the weight will change to the value you typed.
If you press the “Limit recipe to ingredient” the rest of the ingredients will be automatically scaled so that all data is the same as before the change. This is useful if you for example have a recipe that requires 300 g of milk BUT you only have 200 g milk available.
If you press “Keep recipe total weight” the rest of the ingredients will be automatically scaled so that the total weight of the recipe does not change.

Ratio slider

The Ratio slider is a very useful feature. What you do is select two or more ingredients and you can change the ratio between these ingredients.
Normally you use this to adjust the ratio between the sugars in the recipe or the milk and cream in the recipe.

When dragging the sliders the recipe will adjust in real time, this makes it easy to see how the changes affects the recipe. The total weight will not change so when you drag one slider the other slider will adjust (unless you check the Single mode checkbox).

PAC POD buttons

The POD -/+ and PAC -/+ will do a quick automatic balancing to try to decrease/increase the PAC or POD of the recipe.
So, say your recipe has a POD (Sweetness) of 160 and you like to increase the POD a little but keep all other data the same. Instead of adjusting the charts or panels and perform a new automatic balance you can press the POD + button and the calculator will adjust the chart and panels internally and perform a balance operation where just the POD is increased a little.
The POD controls the sweetness of the recipe and the PAC controls the Serving temp.

Automatic balancing

This is one of the main features of the calculator.

When you press this button the calculator will try to adjust the weights in the ingredients so that all targets are reached (green).
I usually start with doing an automatic balance operation and then I can fine tune the recipe or sometimes fine tune the chart until I’m happy with the result.

Fine tune charts

After performing a balance operation you might not be 100% happy with the result. This is when you can fine tune the ranges in the chart and panels to further control the balancing.
Say you have a chart with Total solids in a quite large range from 35%-45% and after balancing you have 36%. This is fine as it is within the range you have set up. But you might want it to be higher so what you do is to click on the Total solids bar and change the range to say 39% to 42% to narrow the allowed amount of Total solids. Then press the Balance button again to balance it towards the updated chart.
Another thing you might want to do is when you are happy with a certain value. You can narrow the range of that data item to the current value. Click on the bar in the chart to bring up the Edit Data dialog and press the “Current min/max” button. This will change the min/max range to the current value +/- 5%.

Failed balancing

There are multiple reasons a balance operation might fail.
The most common reason is of course that it’s impossible to reach all the targets with the ingredients used in the recipe and/or the targets you have set up.
In the above example the only sugar in the recipe is sucrose and it is very hard to control both the sweetness (POD) and Serving temp with only one sugar.
When the balancing fails you need to analyze the recipe and you targets and try to figure out what you need to change for the balancing to succeed. You might need to add another ingredient or you might need to adjust the chart. For example if your chart has Emulsifiers in it but your recipe does not have any emulsifiers it’s of course impossible to reach that target. So, you have to either remove Emulsifiers from the chart (or disable min/max) or you have to add an Emuslifer to the recipe. In the case above we add another sugar Dextrose and balance again.

Compare balancing

Explain the compare methods and how to balance using the compare data. Can be used to make a new recipe similar to an existing recipe and when exchanging ingredients in the current recipe.
If you have a compare recipe activated you can balance the current recipe to the compare recipe.

Click the “…” button to the right of Compare button and select “Balance to compare recipe”.
Remember that pressing the Compare button takes a snapshot of the current recipe and displays it in orange bars in the chart.
Balancing to the compare recipe is especially useful in two scenarios.
1. You have a recipe and need to replace an ingredient with another ingredient. When you do this replacement the properties might change a little. To balance the recipe back to its original balancing you can first press the Compare button to save a snapshot of the recipe, then you replace the ingredient and finally press the “Balance to compare recipe”.
2. The second case is if you have a recipe you know is well balanced and you create a similar recipe you can load the first recipe and press Compare and then load the second recipe and balance it to have the same properties as the first.

There is another option in the “…” drop down. Create chart using compare recipe. This will create a new chart with the ranges set to the values in the compare recipe.

Nutrient balancing and reverse engineering

Another way to use the balancing is when reverse engineering an ingredient or another ice cream using the nutritional values of that product. The calculator has a tool to create a chart from a nutrient label that you then can use to balance your recipe.
To the right of the Nutrients button is a small button “Chart from nutrients”. Pressing this button will open a dialog that creates a new chart using nutrient label data.

Here you fill in the nutrient data you think is important and press the Create chart button to create a new chart with this data. You don’t need or most probably should add all nutrient data to the chart. Add what you think is important.
One important thing here is the “Balance ingredients in order” checkbox. If this checkbox is checked the balancing will keep the order of the ingredients sorted by weight. So the first ingredient will have the highest weight and the last ingredient will have the smallest weight. What you do is to add ingredients to the recipe in the same order they appear in the ingredient list of the product you try to reverse engineer. By checking this box the balancing knows that the ingredients are in the correct order sorted by weight.

Control ratios between ingredients

You can use almost all the data in the Data dialog for balancing. But sometimes you might need data that is not available by default. To handle this you can create you own calculations to create new data items.
In the Data dialog you press the Add button, this takes you to the Formula dialog where you can create a new data item.

Here is an example that creates a new data item Protein/Fat that calculates the percentage of protein of total fat.
By adding your own Data items you can control the balancing in great detail.
You can also create Data items to control the ratio between different ingredients. So, say you like to limit the amount of Dextrose to Sucrose. Then you can create this Data item.

Then when adding this Data item to the chart or a panel you can set min/max ranges.

Here we use the new Data item we created to make sure that Dextrose is between 10% to 25% of the amount of Sucrose.
Using Formulas to create your own Data items is a powerful tool that enables you to control the balancing in great detail.
Note! You can also add up to six user defined variables to your ingredients that can be used to add additional data if you need to control something that is not in the original database. For example you can add more detailed sugar composition of fat composition to your ingredients.

Examples

Now follows a number of automatic balancing examples.
You should download the Online charts if you like to follow and test the examples in the calculator. The online charts are available by pressing the Database button under the list of available charts.

Example: Simple example

This example will use the Online charts “Gelato base” and “Ice cream base”.
Start by selecting the “Gelato base” chart,
Use the Wizard to create a “No flavor” recipe for Gelato. (Fior di latte in V3)

This will create a recipe like this.

Ok, this is a Gelato recipe. What if we like to change this to an Ice cream recipe?
What we do is to change the chart to “Ice cream base”.

As you can see some bars are red and out of balance.
Just click the Balance button to balance the recipe for Ice cream instead of Gelato.

Example: Replace an ingredient

You have a recipe but for some reason you need to replace one of the ingredients.
Start by selecting the “Ice cream base” chart.
Use the Wizard to create a “Strawberry” recipe for Gelato.

You will get something like this.

Now we want to replace the Strawberries with Mango. Here you have two options, you can replace the strawberries and just press Balance again to re-balance or you can balance to a compare recipe. I will show both methods.
First let’s just replace the Strawberry with Mango and balance.
Select Strawberry in the list and press the Replace ingredient button and select Mango from the database.

This will give you this recipe.

First we need to lock the Mango to fix the weight and remove it from balancing. So press the small green box to the right of Mango and press Balance.

This will give you a new balanced recipe.

The second option is to balance to a Compare recipe.
So, Undo until you are back to the Strawberry recipe.
Press the Compare button to take a snapshot of the strawberry recipe.
Replace the Strawberry with Mango the same way as before.
Lock the Mango ingredient and press the “…” button to the right of the Compare button and select “Balance to compare recipe”

This will balance the Mango recipe to be similar to the Strawberry Compare recipe.

As you can see it’s not identical so you might want to make small adjustments until you are happy with the result.
The Balance to compare recipe can of course be used anytime and not just when replacing an ingredient. To see the chart used by the Balance to compare recipe option you can press the “…” button and select “Create chart using compare recipe”, this will also allow you to modify the chart and ranges if you need to.

Example: Lock ingredients

To illustrate why you need to lock some ingredients we make a Pistachio recipe.
Select the “Gelato Chocolate and Nuts” chart.
In the Wizard we select Pistachio and create a Gelato recipe.

This will produce a recipe like this.

Please note here that the weight of the Pistachio is in this example 75.23g, 7.523% of total weight.
Now we change the chart to “Ice cream chocolate and nuts”

If we just press Balance now we will get a new balanced recipe for Ice cream instead of Gelato.

But because we did not lock the Pistachio the W% of Pistachio has increased to over 14%.
So, in the original recipe we had 7.5% Pistachio and in this new recipe we have 14.4%.
This might be OK but to make sure the weight of Pistachio does not change we Lock the Pistachio before balancing. So, undo the changes and press the green box to the right of Pistachio to lock it and exclude it from balancing.

Now press Balance and we get a new balanced Ice cream recipe where the weight of the Pistachio is the same as before.

Example: Ingredient ratios

This example will show how to add a user defined data item using a formula to control the ratio between Dextrose and Sucrose in a recipe.
We start by pressing the Data button to bring up the Data dialog. Here we press Add to open the Formula dialog and we create the following data item. 100*[I_Dextrose]/[I_Sucrose]

This will create a new Data item “Dextrose/Sucrose” that calculates the percentage of Dextrose of Sucrose.
Note! To create formulas with ingredient names you need to have a recipe loaded that contains the ingredients you like to use in your formula.
Now we go back to the recipe and adds a new Panel with this data item. (You could also add this to the chart if you like instead of to a panel).

Now we set the Min/Max range to 10% to 25% and press OK to add the panel.

To test this new Panel we go to the Wizard and creates a Gianduja Gelato recipe.

As you can see the Wizard does not have this rule when the recipe is generated and the Dextrose/Sucrose panel is red and out of range.
Ok, we press the Balance button to re-balance the recipe to see if we can get the Dextrose/Sucrose rule in range.

In this case we succeeded and managed to re-balance and get all properties in range including our Dextrose/Sucrose data item.

Example: Reverse engineer an ice cream recipe

Here we will try to reverse engineer a simple commercial ice cream recipe.

Häagen-Dazs Vanilla
Ingredients: Cream, Skim milk, Cane sugar, Egg yolks, Vanilla extract
Nutrients

Step one is to start a new recipe and add the ingredients in the same order as above.

OK, there are a few things we don’t know from the ingredient list and nutrients of the Häagen-Dazs ice cream. We don’t know the fat% for the cream and milk and we don’t know the weight of each ingredient. What we do know is that the ingredients are listed by weight, so the ingredient with the highest weight comes first etc. And even if we don’t know the exact fat% for the cream and milk we can use what we have it will still be possible to reverse engineer this recipe.

Now we type in weights for the ingredients, we don’t need to worry too much yet, it’s just to get a starting point. Something like this.

The next step is to create a chart that we can use to balance the recipe. We use the “Chart from nutrients” to create a chart from the nutritional values above.

Fill in the Serving size and nutrients. Also, we only select to use Calories, Total fat, Carbs, Total sugars and Protein in the chart. We also make sure the Balance ingredients in order is checked. Press Create chart.

Make sure you don’t have any panels with min/max ranges set.
The last thing we do before balancing is to set the Vanilla extract to 0.5 Weight% and lock it so that the balancing will not change it. When reverse engineering it’s recommended to lock ingredients like vanilla, stabilizers and emulsifiers before balancing as they don’t contribute much to the final result and you can manually set them after balancing.

Now we press the Balance button.

We can now bring up the Nutrients dialog to compare our result with the original.

Energy 321.90 vs 320
Fat 21.02 vs 21
Carbs 26.16 vs 26
Sugar 25.5 vs 25
Protein 5.74 vs 6

As you can see we are pretty close to the original.

Reverse engineering like this can be useful to get a good starting point but usually the recipe needs some tweaking after and it’s much more difficult to reverse engineer recipes with lots of add-ins compared to pure flavors.

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