book collections email follower instructable user
Picture of Color Changing Ice Cream

Color changing ice cream is not new at all. There is a patent here which was filed in 2001 for a "Frozen dessert novelty which changes color". It describes the use of "red cabbage extract (anthocyanin)" to achieve the effect.

In 2014 a Spanish Man named Manuel Linares went viral with his claim that he had invented a color changing ice cream. If you search the term you will find a many newsletter articles. The formula was claimed to be a "patent-pending secret" which changes color in response to temperature changes and acids found in the human mouth. You can find a video of it here, where you can see him spritzing a liquid onto it (he called it "love elixir" which causes the ice cream to change from blue to red. After seeing the video I immediately knew what was going on and wanted to write an Instructable about it, but got side tracked somehow. I knew that the effect was not due to the acids in the human mouth (the normal pH range for saliva is 6.2 to 7.6, so it is actually quite neutral *), but because the liquid he used was some type of acid i.e. lemon juice and the ice cream itself had a neutral pH value. Low and behold the patent (here) proved what I thought and is basically the same as the one above.

I still think it is a fun idea and decided to play around with it.

*) pH is a scale used to specify how acidic or basic a water-based solution is. Acidic solutions have a lower pH, while basic solutions have a higher pH.

Step 1: Where to Get the Colour Changing Pigments - Anthocyanins

Picture of Where to Get the Colour Changing Pigments - Anthocyanins

As described in the intro step the "magic" behind the color change are water-soluble pigments called Anthocyanins.
The name stems from Greek: ἄνθος (anthos) "flower" and κυάνεος/κυανοῦς kyaneos/kyanous "dark blue". They are found mostly in flowers and fruits, but also in leaves, stems, and roots. They are red or pink in acidic solutions, purple in neutral solutions, greenish-yellow in alkaline solutions, and colorless in very alkaline solutions, where the pigment is completely reduced [1].

As you can see in the image underneath the chemical structure and therefore the color changes with the pH value.

CC BY-SA 3.0 (the original image can be found here, remixed by me)

So the first thing I had to figure out is to where to get the anthonyanins from.

In his patent Manuel Linares describes the extraction of the pigment in the following way:

"1.5 kg of cabbage and 15 liters of water. The water is heated to a temperature between 60-70 °C and reserves. In this example, the water is heated to a temperature of 62 °C.
Cabbage triturated in diminutive sizes. Then, water is added to the shredded cabbage and continue grinding with a blender or similar apparatus for 5 to 10 minutes. This mixture of shredded cabbage and water is allowed to stand.
The mixture is then filtered and the filtrate is sent to cool in cooling to a temperature of 10 ° C for subsequent freezing at a temperature between -16 and -24 ° C. This filtrate is the liquid plant extract is incorporated in food products of the invention."

There is also an instructable that uses cabbage to make a Color-Changing Martini.

Luckily there is an easier way to get it. Blue flowers are a common ingredient in teas and therefore easily available. Two very common ones are Butterfly Pea Flower Blossoms and Blue Mallow Flowers. There is another instructable that uses Butterfly Pea Flower Blossoms to make Color-Changing Cocktails.

Even easier than using the flowers is using pure blue matcha powder which can luckily be bought relatively easy online. So for for the ice cream I decided to go with blue matcha powder made from Butterfly Pea Flower Blossoms.

If you are interested in learning further about anthycyanins I suggest reading this article.

congrats on winning!
Good job!!! =)
BrittLiv (author)  monsieur_bob20 days ago
Thank you!
zakbobdop2 months ago
I’m in awe. Every time I read one of your instructables, I learn something new. Thanks for contributing to instructables, and I hope to see more to come :D
BrittLiv (author)  zakbobdop2 months ago
Thanks a lot for the nice compliment!
Clownassmqn2 months ago
I would like to rub it all over my chest
KimberlyP902 months ago
This is fantastic research!!
2bis2bgreen2 months ago
thanks for this right in time for independence day. I made a stars and stripes homemade ice cream cake but next time I think I will get a bunch of kids and turn this into a fun red white and blue science that you an eat class. Thanks for all the links great photos as well. got my vote
This is just fantastic! I love anything that color changes, and something sweet that color changes is just the best!
randofo2 months ago
Very nice! I tried to make this a few years ago with red cabbage and it was a total failure. Well done. :)
BrittLiv (author)  randofo2 months ago
Thank you!
Birdienumnums2 months ago
Serve as an ice cream float with lime or lemon soda. As you eat the ice cream, and it mixes with the soda, it changes colour.
BrittLiv (author)  Birdienumnums2 months ago
That is a great idea!!
Coolloom2 months ago
This looks fantastic!
littleangels2 months ago
I LOVE all the history & detail you provide, and I see mention of using egg whites - but how many, when to incorporate, et c.
Thanks so much for this! You outdid yourself!!!
BrittLiv (author)  littleangels2 months ago
Thanks a lot! Like I wrote I ended up not using them because I couldn't find a recipe I liked. If anybody has one I would be really interested
Arbormakes2 months ago
Got my vote :-D
BrittLiv (author)  Arbormakes2 months ago
Thank you!
jessyratfink2 months ago
Fantastic!! Your photos get more beautiful with every ible :D
BrittLiv (author)  jessyratfink2 months ago
Thanks a lot! I have a new lens that I love to use
attosa2 months ago
Whaaat-- this is so cool! Thanks for posting!