Different Variegate Types

Posted: March 8, 2021

Water-Based Variegate

Water-Based variegates are stabilized sugar syrups with fruits, cocoa, flavorings, and/or colors added. The mainstream flavors that you’re probably most familiar with are strawberry, blueberry, raspberry, caramel, and chocolate. If you’re looking for something a little more outside the box with a tropical twist, there are also mango, pomegranate, guava & kiwi variegates.

Advantages and Challenges of Water-Based Variegate

Water-based variegates are known for being the easiest to handle and control. Most of them can be refrigerated and have a smooth texture. The nozzle can also be primed with variegate prior to starting the ice cream freezer which assists with productivity. 

The only challenge with water-based variegates is that they’re limited to soft particulates such as fruit puree, seeds, nuts, and coconut flakes.

Emulsion-Based Variegate

Emulsion-based variegates are often more premium – Oil-in-Water or Water-in-Oil. The mainstream flavors for these types of variegates include caramels and dulce de leche. There are also unique flavor blends available such as mocha and chocolate peanut butter. They can include particulates, depending on the viscosity of the emulsion and nozzle size.

Advantages and Challenges of Emulsion-Based Variegates

Emulsion-based variegate types can provide more premium textures and flavors such as a hot fudge texture and creamy textures. They can also have soft particulates and many of them can be used refrigerated.  

These variegates can present challenges in production due to the fact that most require refrigerated storage, and some may require tempering before use. They may also require large nozzle sizes to handle added particulates.

Oil-Based Variegates

Oil-based variegate types are blends of oil, sugar, and other solids – with flavor and colors added. They may also contain textured bits called particulates. The most widely used flavors for these types of variegates include chocolate and butter vanillas. Fruit and caramel flavors are available but rely heavily on flavors rather than fruit and milk. 

Advantages and Challenges of Oil-Based Variegates

Oil-based variegates add unique textures to ice cream and can have larger particulates that can be added depending on the nozzle size. Some of these larger particulates include: 

  • Cookie, Cracker, and Pretzel Crumbs 
  • Rice Crisps 
  • Seeds 
  • Sugar, Citric Acid, or Salt Crystals 

Oil-based variegates can be the most challenging to store, handle and control in use. Few can be used refrigerated and nearly always require special start-up procedures. They also usually require tempering before use and can separate if stored at ambient or above for any length of time.  

It’s important to always maintain continuous flow to the nozzle during the run and the nozzle cannot be primed with variegate prior to starting the ice cream freezer. Oil purging of the pipes and pumps may be required to eliminate water (using oil compatible with variegate labeling). Feel free to reach out to us if you have any variegate handling or equipment questions.


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