No sugar? Yeah right!

Reducing sugar can be difficult. The result is often disappointing. Is it possible to create, for instance, ice cream without sugar, with the proper taste and mouthfeel? And what ingredients could make that happen?

15 September 2020 •

What hap­pens when you remove sug­ar from food, say ice cream? Yes, the taste dete­ri­o­rates, but also the mouth­feel. Sugar pro­vides sweet­ness, but also sev­er­al oth­er prop­er­ties. It cre­ates vol­ume, creami­ness and tex­ture. If you want to replace it with some­thing else, it must pro­vide the same taste and mouth­feel as sug­ar. In this arti­cle, we explain how sweet­ened fibres does exact­ly that.

The ice cream example

If you eat ice cream that con­tains sweet­ened fibres, you will not miss the sug­ar. The taste is the same. It tastes sweet, just like reg­u­lar ice cream.

But what exact­ly are sweet­ened fibres and what is taste?

Let’s return to sweet­ened fibres. We start by explor­ing taste. It is a ques­tion that you may think you know the answer to, but which is not so easy to express in words and sentences.

What is taste?

Our expe­ri­ence of food and drink is com­posed of taste, aro­ma and mouth­feel. We have five basic tastes that we can feel with the help of recep­tors on the tongue: sweet, salty, sour, bit­ter and umami.

Taste is close­ly linked with our sense of smell. When we eat, fra­grances are released that trav­el up into the nose and reach the odour recep­tors. Simply put, it can be said that the mouth and nose togeth­er cre­ate the taste experience.

In ice cream, we want sweet­ness, of course. But where does it come from if we remove sugar?


The sweet­ness in ice cream with fibres comes from ste­vi­ol gly­co­sides, a sweet sub­stance from the ste­via plant. Steviol gly­co­sides are sev­er­al hun­dred times sweet­er than sug­ar, but they often have a cer­tain bit­ter­ness (except for new­er vari­eties such as Reb M). Therefore, we must mask the bit­ter taste, which we do by com­bin­ing oth­er substances.

Steviol gly­co­sides can how­ev­er only pro­vide sweet­ness. Ice cream with sweet­ened fibres is not only sweet; it is also creamy, full-bod­ied and offers the right tex­ture. All those things that make the right mouth­feel. How do we get all those prop­er­ties with­out sug­ar? We will go into that short­ly, but let us first look into mouth­feel – what is that?

What is mouthfeel?

In sim­ple terms, it can be said that mouth­feel is the chem­i­cal and phys­i­cal food expe­ri­ence in addi­tion to the taste expe­ri­ence. Receptors in the tongue, teeth and oth­er parts of the mouth make us sense pres­sure, vibra­tion, fric­tion and tem­per­a­ture differences.

In this way, we feel when a slice of bread feels old and ‘stale’ or that there is some­thing wrong with the ice cream, even though we may not be able to put our fin­ger on exact­ly what is wrong. We may think the taste is bad, but often it’s the mouth­feel to blame and not the taste.

In the arti­cle What is mouth­feel? you can read more in-depth about this excit­ing topic.

What will provide bulk?

Back to the ice cream. We know that sweet­ness comes from ste­vi­ol gly­co­sides. But we also know that we need to add oth­er things to pro­vide the same mouth­wa­ter­ing mouth­feel that sug­ar gives. The answer to this is is a vari­ety of sug­ar alco­hols and fibres.

These ingre­di­ents fill pro­vide bulk and back­bone and pre­vent the ice cream from collapsing.

Sugar alcohols

Sugar alco­hols have sev­er­al func­tions. First of all, it con­tributes to bulk; it adds vol­ume. And with the bulk comes the right mouth­feel. It is also sweet – though not as sweet as sug­ar. In some appli­ca­tions, sug­ar alco­hol can also replace some of the oth­er prop­er­ties of sugar.

Dietary fibres

Then we have dietary fibres whose main task is to hold on to the oth­er ingre­di­ents. It is the retain­ing func­tion that turns sweet­ened fibres into sug­ar-like grains. But fibres also con­tributes to bulk and mouthfeel.

Sweetened fibres

Fibres and sug­ar alco­hols do not just cre­ate the right mouth­feel. Some dietary fibres also offer taste and sweet­ness. They also help to mask the liquorice-like after­taste in the ste­vi­ol glycosides.

In ice cream with sweet­ened fibres, we find the sug­ar alco­hol malti­tol and the fibres dex­trin and inulin. Together with the ste­vi­ol gly­co­sides, a uni­tary sug­ar sub­sti­tute is cre­at­ed that offers sweet­ness and taste, masks off-flavours and con­tributes to bulk and mouthfeel.

Let’s return to the ice cream and take a clos­er look at what each ingre­di­ent contributes.

A winning team

Maltitol is a sug­ar alco­hol that has the same freez­ing point depres­sion as sug­ar, which means that ice cream made from malti­tol offers a sim­i­lar mouthfeel.

Dextrin is a sta­ble fibre that can with­stand tem­per­a­ture dif­fer­ences as well as high and low pH val­ues. Dextrin pro­vides the ice cream with struc­ture and back­bone so it doesn’t turn into a smooth sauce.

Finally, we have inulin. A fibre that has sim­i­lar prop­er­ties to dex­trin and gives the ice cream a pre­dictable melt­ing behav­iour. Another impor­tant prop­er­ty of inulin is that it improves the taste of the ste­vi­ol gly­co­sides. The taste becomes sweet­er and more pleasant.

Different foods – different solutions

Sweetened fibres for ice cream is called Eureba D-01 and is a 1: 1 solu­tion for ice cream and dairy products.

Eureba can be used in a vari­ety of foods. It can be used in bak­ing, var­i­ous types of choco­late and con­fec­tionery, but also dairy prod­ucts, soups and sauces.

Does this mean that there is one Eureba solu­tion for all these foods?

No, our Eureba range con­sists of turnkey solu­tions that are spe­cial­ly devel­oped for dif­fer­ent foods. Fibres and sug­ar alco­hols dif­fer and have dif­fer­ent qual­i­ties, which is reflect­ed in which prod­ucts they fit best in.

In the arti­cle series Sugar reduc­tion in prac­tice, you can read more in-depth about the fibres and sug­ar alco­hols found in our Eureba solutions.

Get help from experts

Developing such a solu­tion on your own is no easy task. You need to find the right ste­via extract, the right fibres and sug­ar alco­hols for your par­tic­u­lar prod­uct. But just as impor­tant is the dosage so you don’t get too big or too small amounts of any ingre­di­ent. It is a labo­ri­ous job that requires both mon­ey and the right skills.

Your turn: Try Eureba

Do you want to try Eureba? Fill in the form below and we will send you a prod­uct sam­ple. The offer is pri­mar­i­ly aimed at those who work pro­fes­sion­al­ly with food at a food pro­duc­er or distributor.

[mau­tic type=“form” id=“9”]

Please, share this article if you liked it.

Similar articles

Right now we have no more articles on the subject.