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Methocel F50: Not That Kind of Meth

Posted by Jillian Mead on Feb 16, 2014 7:22:26 PM
Methocel F50: Not That Kind of Meth

 

Though it sounds like some sort of illegal or prescription drug, or possibly a top-secret weapon, Methocel F50 is simply a chemical compound derived from cellulose--the main constituent in plant cell walls. While it doesn’t occur naturally, Methocel F50 is derived from natural ingredients synthetically. Cellulose is heated with a caustic solution such as sodium hydroxide, then treated with methyl chloride. In the resulting chemical reaction, the hydroxl groups are replaced by methoxide, and this new composite is called methyl cellulose.

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Walter White and Jesse Pinkman were good cooks, but definitely not chefs...

Methyl cellulose is a hydrophilic white powder that dissolves in water to form a viscous, clear gel. It’s used as a thickener and emulsifier in the cosmetics and food industries, and like cellulose it is non-toxic, non-allergenic, and not digestible.  It’s added to  everything from hair shampoo to ice cream to toothpaste, so chances are there are plenty of items containing methyl cellulose in your household. 

 

Pistachio Noodles in mulled wine 

There are about 20 different types of methy cellulose. Each one is similar but has distinctive properties, differing in their dispersion and hydration requirements. Methocel F50, commonly used to stabilize whipped foams, is one of the more forgiving types to work with. It can be dispersed in either hot or cold liquid.  The best method of dispersion is to put the base liquid into a blender, then whir it until a vortex forms. Sprinkle the Methocel F50 into the vortex and blend to combine, then refrigerate.  Methocel F50 needs to be chilled to complete the hydration process, which can take several hours. 

Get This Cuisine-Tech Recipe

 

Making a foam from Methocel F50 is pretty easy. Combine it with a flavored liquid, then whip in a standing mixer with a whisk attachment until the mixture forms soft or firm peaks.  You can add some xantham gum to further stabilize the foam.  A 1% to 2% ratio of Methocel F50 to liquid is typically used for creating foams, along with 0.1% to 0.3% xantham gum.  The higher the ratio of Methocel F50 and xantham gum, the denser the resulting foam.  Once whipped, the foam can be served or dehydrated to create a sort of meringue texture.

 

Creative culinary uses for Methocel F50 abound. Watch our demonstration video for more information.

Topics: Cuisine-Tech

Kappa Carrageenan: Seaweed Goes Haute Cuisine

Posted by Jillian Mead on Dec 12, 2013 10:51:04 AM

When you think about agriculture, you probably envision a farm with rows of wheat and vegetables growing in the soil. But there is also an entire business comprised of underwater agriculture, and that’s where the modern food industry cultivates carrageenan.  A totally natural extract from a particular species of red seaweed, kappa carrageenan is sourced mainly from Kappaphycus alvarezii. VIDEOS AND RECIPES AHEAD....

carrageenan-post-pic

This type of carrageenan (there are three main commercial classes) forms the most rigid, strongest gels of the carageenan family (especially in the presence of potassium) and is widely used for its gelling, thickening, and stabilizing properties.  Since carrageenans can strongly bind to proteins, its main application in the food industry is in dairy and meat products.  Kappa carrageenan can also be used as a vegetarian and vegan alternative to gelatin in some applications. 

 

Seaweed varieties, farming methods,  and facilities in the Philippines.

If you’ve ever had the pleasure of converging with a strand of seaweed during a swim in the ocean, you’ve probably noticed it’s typically coated with a viscous, jellylike film.  This unique feature of seaweed was also noted by our forebearers, and the gelatinous extracts from seaweed have been utilized as a food additive for hundreds of years.  In some parts of Scotland and Ireland a traditional dessert known as “carrageenan moss” is still made by boiling specific seaweeds in milk, straining it and adding sugar and flavorings like cinnamon, brandy, whisky and vanilla.  The end result is reminiscent of panna cotta.

  Watch our demonstration video for more information on how to use kappa carrageenan.

Nowadays chefs are using the unique properties of kappa carrageenan to their advantage in modern cuisine: modernist mango custard, maple-suspended pancetta, and craft beer gels are all possible thanks to kappa carageenan.  To use kappa carrageenan in your own creations, simply disperse in water or milk (dispersion into cool liquids is best), then shear (rapid, vigorous mixing, as an immersion blender or Vitamix creates)  and heat until completely dissolved. Kappa carrageenan is soluble in hot water at temperatures above 140º F. 

 Get This Cuisine-Tech Recipe

It is also soluble in colder temperatures when mixed with sodium salt, and since kappa carrageenan binds well with dairy proteins you can also use milk bases the same way with great results.  If you’re adding sugar, do so after it is fully hydrated as it doesn’t dissolve well in the presence of sugar.  The amount of kappa carrageenan you should use depends on the type of liquid and the firmness of the gel you want to create.  Typical usage levels for kappa carrageenan are between 0.75% to 1% in water, and .35% to .5% in milk.  Most similar to agar agar in behavior, kappa carrageenan creates a thermo-reversible gel type that is not freezer stable.  To “supercharge” kappa carrageenan, it can be used in conjunction with locust bean gum. When combining with locust bean gum, you can reduce the amount of kappa carrageenan to about one-third of the concentration usually required, and the resulting gel will be more resilient.

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Topics: Cuisine-Tech

Caviar Spherification

Posted by Jillian Mead on Nov 15, 2013 7:00:00 AM

Caviar spherification, developed and popularized by chef Ferran Adria, is the process in which liquid ingredients are shaped into spheres resembling caviar.

 

spheres

 

A great technique to add a little flair to plated dishes and cocktails, you only need a few ingredients to create your own customized “caviar”: Whatever flavorful liquid you’d like to spherify (mango puree, olive oil, green tea...the possibilities really are endless), plus calcium chloride, sodium alginate, and water. Whir the sodium alginate into your base liquid at high speed with an immersion blender, and mix the calcium chloride with the water until dissolved. Then dispense the flavored liquid into the calcium chloride bath, leave it in for one minute, and transfer the newly formed caviar pearls into a cold water bath. Strain them out of the water and they’re all done.

Watch our demonstration video and check out these tips for more information on how to make caviar spheres.  Click on "Read More" below...

 

 

 

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BASIC CAVIAR SPHERIFICATION TIPS

1) Make sure the base liquid is not too acidic, as basic spherification won’t occur if the pH is less than 3.6. To reduce acidity, simply add some sodium citrate, but not too much otherwise the end result will taste too salty.

2) Using the tools like those in the CuisineTech Essential Tool Kit allows for the quick creation of large quantities of caviar drops, with great precision and little effort. You can also use a regular plastic syringe for small caviar, or a spoon for larger spheres. When using a syringe, be sure to use constant, even pressure so your spheres turn out uniform.

3) Drop the liquid into the calcium chloride bath from the correct distance. If you drop them from too high up, the higher impact into the water will cause them to flatten out. And if you drop them too low, they won’t gather enough speed to form nice spheres.

4) Don’t leave the pearls in the calcium chloride bath too long, or they’ll become firm and lack the characteristic pop and liquid burst that makes them so much fun to eat.

5) Pressed for time? Prepared caviar spheres are available in flavors like truffle, pink grapefruit, soy sauce, passion fruit, and black currant.

Topics: Cuisine-Tech, Techniques

Apple Pectin Time

Posted by Jillian Mead on Nov 13, 2013 3:00:00 PM

A familiar ingredient to the many home cooks who use it to set their jams and jellies, pectin is a natural polysaccharide found in numerous terrestrial plants, and in particularly high concentration within the cell walls of apples.

All pectin is not created equal, as the structure, amount, and chemical composition differs among various plants, within the same plant over time, and in the diverse parts of the plant itself. Hence there are several types of pectin available for culinary preparations as a gelling agent, thickener, and stabilizer.

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See full post for video

 

First isolated and reported by Henri Braconnot in 1825, the culinary action of pectin as a gelling agent was known long beforehand. To get good quality, well-set jams made from low-pectin fruits such as blueberries or apricots, cooks would mix some pectin-rich fruits or their extracts into the recipe. With the onset of industrialization, makers of fruit preserves turned to apple juice producers to get dried apple pomace that was cooked down to extract pectin, and eventually during the 1920s and 1930s factories were built for the sole purpose of extracting pectin in regions that produced apple juice in both Europe and the USA.

Yellow Apple Pectin is a high methylester type of apple pectin that has been standardized with dextrose and is typically used as a gelifier for pate de fruit and glazes that results in a slowly set, spreadable gel texture. Combine Yellow Apple Pectin with sugar prior before it is added to the other ingredients, as sugar increases pectin’s ability to gel and affect texture and consistency. It also requires the presence of an acid, such as citric acid, to set properly.

 

 

 

 

To create classic French pate de fruit candies, simply bring the fruit puree of your choice to a boil, then whisk in a Yellow Apple Pectin/sugar mixture followed by any remaining sugar(s) necessary for your recipe. Heat the mixture to 225 degrees Fahrenheit, then remove from heat and add an acidic ingredient (powdered citric acid works well). Dispense the mixture into molds or pour into a sheet tray with sides to set, then roll the molded or cut pieces of set pate de fruit in crystallized or granulated sugar.

 

Topics: Cuisine-Tech, Ravifruit, Techniques

Nutriose: A Natural Way to Improve Fried Food

Posted by Jillian Mead on Oct 2, 2013 2:46:00 PM

Nutriose is a versatile, natural ingredient that helps breadings and batters fry up exceptionally well.  It’s useful in creating thinner, finer coatings that last for several hours without getting greasy, and couldn’t be easier to use.  Simply substitute Nutriose for 20-50% of regular flour in batter and breading recipes and fry away!  Plus, you can feel a little less guilty when you indulge in the finished product--Since Nutriose is comprised of 85% dietary fiber, it increases the fiber content in many food products.

wheat dextrin 

Nutriose is made out of wheat dextrin, which is considered a gluten-free starch according to the FDA’s definition.  Wheat starch is chemically processed to create wheat dextrin and it is used globally in the food, textile, and adhesive industries.  When you lick an envelope to seal it, you’re ingesting a little bit of wheat dextrin.  So it’s a fairly commonplace product and just about everyone has had some.

 

Besides its amazing ability to make fried foods even more delicious, it is widely used in the food industry as a thickener in packaged foods or as a fat replacement in “light” versions of foods. And all that fiber brings plenty of health benefits: according to published medical research, wheat dextrin can help reduce cholesterol levels, improve immune function and boost mineral absorption.  (These health benefits are likely nullified if you only ingest wheat dextrin in the form of fried batters, but at least they’ll be worth the indulgence if Nutriose is in the mix.)

Get This Cuisine\u002DTech Recipe

 

So next time you’re anticipating a crispy bite of tempura-induced heaven but you just get a limp shrimp instead, it could very well be a lack of Nutriose that’s to blame.

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Topics: Cuisine-Tech, Videos

Ultra Tex: Not Your Grandmother’s Tapioca

Posted by Jillian Mead on Sep 20, 2013 9:15:00 AM

Tapioca typically brings to mind an old-fashioned dessert of sweet pearlescent pudding studded with starchy spheroids. But you probably eat tapioca just about every day without realizing it. 

 

Extracted from the root of the cassava plant, tapioca is cultivated in tropical areas worldwide, with a high concentration in Southeast Asia and South America.  It can be precooked or pregelatinized to make instant or cold-water-swelling starches and modified in accordance with FDA regulations, and is not known to be an allergen, making it a favored choice as a texturizing or stabilizing agent in specific food markets (especially gluten-free).

cassava root

 

Because it possesses high viscosity and clarity, a very bland, clean flavor profile, a high freeze/thaw rate and good mouth melt-away characteristics, tapioca exhibits the properties that are most desirable for a modified food starch. Therefore, tapioca starch can be found in many industrial food products, including frozen french fries, canned soups, processed cheeses, bakery fillings, dairy products, sauces and gravies. 

 

Although tapioca has been utilized for centuries in traditional cuisines, and prominently in industrialized food manufacturing, its qualities are also a boon to the modern creative chef.  Ultra-Tex 3 and Ultra-Tex 8 are great examples of tapioca-derived products that can be used in all sorts of fun gastronomic endeavors. 

 

Ultra-Tex 3 provides an exceptionally smooth, glossy texture for a wide range of instant food applications, while also imparting a rich creamy mouthfeel.  It’s excellent for producing ideal textural stability, even in cold temperatures or under refrigerated storage, and compared to conventional pregelitinized tapioca starches Ultra-Tex 3 boasts improved tolerance in heated and acidic conditions.  As soon as it comes into contact with hot or cold water, Ultra-Tex 3 develops viscosity and texture.  To aid its dispersion in the liquid, it’s a good idea to blend Ultra-Tex 3 with other dry ingredients (particularly sugar) or disperse it in oil before adding it to water or water-based ingredients such as fruit puree. 

 

cassava plant

 

Ultra-Tex 8 is ideal for use in sauces, pastry fillings, instant puddings, Bavarian creams, and cheese sauces, as it imparts a smooth, glossy texture and superior rich, creamy quality to these preparations.  Perfect for frozen or baked goods and useful in myriad neutral formulations where a smooth, short texture and clean flavor profile are desired, Ultra-Tex 8 as your go-to starch for such creations.

Topics: Cuisine-Tech, Ultra Tex

Sucrose Ester: This Fat Wears Many Hats

Posted by Jillian Mead on Sep 18, 2013 2:38:00 PM

Will Foie Gras Cotton Candy Be The Next Big Hit At The State Fair?

 

Esters are ubiquitous, and the sucrose ester is no exception.  While technically classified as an emulsifier, sucrose esters are also used in food production to aid in aeration, texturization, starch interaction, protein protection, and fat or sugar crystallization.  Sucrose esters can also boost the action of other emulsifiers, keep starches fresh for longer periods of time, or prevent proteins from browning.  Is it any wonder the sucrose ester is found in virtually every category of edible products? 

 

Most naturally occurring fats and oils, like olive oil or the animal fats in butter, are esters.  The main ingredient in the sucrose ester is--you guessed it--sucrose (otherwise known as granulated sugar, or plain old table sugar). Sucrose is “esterified” by combining it with the edible fatty acids from palm oil. 

 

The sucrose ester’s wide range of applications in bakery items, cereals, confections, dairy products and sauces is a boon to food manufacturers and chefs worldwide.  It makes the production process more efficient by decreasing mixing time, keeping viscosity low, and reducing stickiness.  The sucrose ester’s effect on sugar and fat crystallization prevents fat bloom in chocolate and accelerates the crystallization process in candy-making. 

 

 

Alternatively, the sucrose ester is increasingly used in low-fat food preparations as well.  Take reduced-fat biscuits, for example.  Simply cutting the fat in the recipe would result in a hard, dry, thoroughly unappetizing approximation of a biscuit.  But the addition of sucrose esters to the biscuit dough keeps the sugar from forming too-large agglomerates.  The sucrose esters help the fat globules that are present stay much smaller, thus keeping the sugar molecules in the biscuit finely divided and resulting in dough characteristics more similar to a full-fat dough and an enhanced mouthfeel in the finished product. 

 

Sucrose ester is a white or ivory powder with a microcrystalline structure that is water soluble.  While it is a cold process emulsifier, it will act more quickly when heat is applied.  When utilizing sucrose esters to emulsify oils with watery mediums, first dissolve the sucrose ester in the watery ingredients before blending with the fatty medium for the best result. 

 

For a creative and fun way to use sucrose esters, check out our Cuisine Tech video highlighting this versatile ingredient as an essential component in the creation of savory foie gras cotton candy.

 

And then there's this guy, who combined his life's two intense passions, Michael Jackson and cotton candy, to create a street performance spectacular.

 

Topics: Cuisine-Tech, Videos

The Big BOOM: The Birth of the Cereal Revolution

Posted by John Duffy on Aug 14, 2013 1:22:00 PM

Dave Arnold, founder of the Museum of Food and Drink in New York City, discusses the evolution of puffed grains, and demonstrates the museum's first exhibit, a puffed cereal gun.

 

Topics: Cuisine-Tech

Locust Bean Gum: Ancient History Meets Modern Gastronomy

Posted by Jillian Mead on Aug 3, 2013 5:22:00 PM

If you’ve ever read the ingredients label on a container of yogurt, ice cream, or cream cheese, you may have wondered what, exactly, is something named after a swarming insect doing in there?  Rest assured, there aren’t any bug bits in your dairy fix. 

 

Locust bean gum, AKA carob bean gum, is an all-natural food additive derived from the locust bean tree, prevalent in the Mediterranean region.  The seed pods of the tree are separated into pulp and seed, and the gum is derived from the split, milled seeds, while carob powder, with a sweet flavor somewhat similar to chocolate, is produced from the pods (the tree is also known as the carob tree).

 

Ceratonia siliqua green pods

 

Often referred to as LBG for short, locust bean gum falls into the category of hydrocolloids, or things that help water molecules stick together.  Hence it is used as a thickening and gelling agent in food production, and it’s commonly found in salad dressings, sauces, meat products, breads, and breakfast cereals as well as dairy products.  Generally, food gums such as locust bean gum, xanthan gum, and guar gum make something chewier or thicker.  Excellent for freeze/thaw applications, locust bean gum is invaluable for frozen dairy preparations. It can help stabilize foods by preventing sugar or ice from crystallizing, without adding additional fat or calories. This makes it an ideal ingredient to create “light” foods like reduced-fat desserts or creamy sauces that still taste satisfying. 

 

 

Because of its pervasive use in the industrialized world, one may think that locust bean gum powder is a recent discovery, but in fact archaeological records show that carob trees grew in Israel in 4000 B.C., and the locust bean was recorded in the writings of Theophratus in 4 B.C.  Sometimes referred to as the Egyptian fig, locust bean gum was even used to prepare bodies for mummification, and remnants of locust beans have been discovered in ancient Egyptian tombs as well as in Pompeii from circa 79 A.D. 

 

 

Today, government programs utilize locust bean trees for their ecological benefit: the trees aid soil and water conservation efforts, as well as help provide shade to keep farm animals cool. 

 

This simple ingredient can allow you to create “gelified” versions of flavorful liquids, like fruit or vegetable purees, and enhance the texture of a multitude of menu items from imaginative condiments to ultra-creamy puddings.

Topics: Cuisine-Tech

Tapioca Maltodextrin: Dust Never Sleeps

Posted by John Duffy on May 29, 2013 5:42:00 PM

    Have  you ever known the pleasure of licking the powdery residue of puffed cheese snacks (think "cheese that goes CRUNCH") from your fingertips? Then you are acquainted with the delicious results of combining a fat with a very fine starch.  Snack makers use this technique to add flavor to the exterior of an otherwise plainly flavored textural vehicle.  Imagine a Doritos chip.  The chip itself tastes like ground dried corn, with a little salt.  The flavor of cheese, spices, ranch dressing, or any number of exotic combinations, is imparted by the powdery dust applied to the exterior of the chip.

    From a manufacturer’s point of view, this technique simply enhances production.  They can make one basic chip, and flavor it many ways, simply by using a different flavored powder.  And the powder is easier to apply, and requires less clean up, than making the chip itself in a variety of flavors.

Cuisine Tech Tapioca Maltodextrin recipe

    How many varieties?  Doritos can be found in Nacho Cheese, Chile Limon, Nacho Pisco, Enchilada Supreme, Ranch Dipped Hot Wings, Spicy Chipotle BBQ, Cool Ranch, Salsa Verde, Spicy Sweet Chili, or Taco (the original Dorito).  Lay’s Potato Chips can be found in Barbecue, Cheddar and Sour Cream, BLT, Dill Pickle, Garden Tomato, Honey Barbecue, Limon, Salt and Vinegar, Sweet Southern Heat Barbecue, Tangy Carolina BBQ, Sour Cream and Onion, Southwestern Ranch, Jalapeno, Maui Onion, Mesquite BBQ, Au Gratin, and Pizza flavors.

    The basic formula is:
Chip + Dust + Imagination = Crunch + Flavor + Hugely Popular Food Item

    How do they make that magical flavored dust?  It’s simple.  Any dried ingredient, like chili peppers or herbs, can be pulverized to extreme fineness.  Powdered cheeses and dehydrated dairy products (sour cream, yogurt, cream cheese) can be added.  But the truly delicious flavors come from fats.  And to make a fat into a powder, you need to add a starch.

    What would be the ideal properties for this starch be?

  • neutral flavor, so you would taste the fat, not the starch
  •  low sweetness
  • dissolve easily, for the best flavor release
  • not absorb moisture, so it won’t clump
  • have tiny granules and dissolve easily for great mouthfeel

    Tapioca maltodextrin has all of these properties, which makes it an ideal choice to turn your favorite fat into a smooth, tasty, free-flowing powder.  And it’s so easy to use that it requires almost no skill to produce a great result.



    Just select a flavorful fat base.  It could be anything- olive oil, Nutella, peanut butter, or white chocolate.  Or rendered fat from chorizo, foie gras, lardo de Iberico, or roasted chicken.  Place that fat into a food processor, turn it on, and add tapioca maltodextrin until you reach the desired texture of powder.  Add a little and have a fattier, heavier powder, or add more until the powder is very light.  The amount you add determines the final result.



    How does it work?  Tapioca maltodextrin is a polysaccharide.  When mixed with the fat, the molecules slide between the tiny fat droplets formed by agitation (the food processor).  The fat gets so thick that the droplets can no longer move.  And the molecules form a three dimensional matrix arounfd the fat droplets.  That prevents the fat from recombining into larger globules, so the emulsion of fat and starch remains stable.

    Once prepared, your flavored powder has limitless applications. From sprinkles to splashes to spoonfuls, on the plate, dusted on or over, it’s up to you!

Topics: Cuisine-Tech