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Cornstarch in my Gelato/Ice Cream


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#1 Darienne

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Posted 24 July 2009 - 01:57 PM

Adding a few tablespoons of cornstarch to an ice cream recipe instead of 5 or 6 egg yolks, while using mostly milk instead of heavy cream is of great interest to me. A number of obvious reasons spring to mind.

I have made DL's Fleur de Lait and loved it and now today I made a recipe on Epicurious for Chocolate Gelato. And just my luck, while searching to ascertain whether there was a past thread on cornstarch in ice cream, I found the Fat Guy's thread on Gelato vs Ice Cream. A post by Krazed Mom said she had made the Epicurious chocolate gelato and tweaked it with added cocoa and vanilla. And so I did. With wonderful results.

Has anyone else made any other cornstarch gelato or ice cream recipes which they would like to share?

Any disasters / tips which we should all know about? :wink:
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#2 Tri2Cook

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Posted 24 July 2009 - 02:10 PM

I generally prefer yolk bases over cornstarch but I have used it in some cases (delicate flavors I don't want masked with egg and colors that turn grey with egg yolk in the mix for example). I made a lilac ice cream which turned grey with the yolks so I did it again with cornstarch and it was perfect. I also had a request once for grape ice cream which I developed around a cornstarch-thickened base. Purple and egg yolk just don't seem to add up to pretty.
It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

#3 tmriga

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Posted 24 July 2009 - 02:14 PM

Please teach me.

I know that cornstarch is a thickener, but I thought it needed heat to activate. My questions are:

1 - When does the cornstarch go into the base,

and

2 - How does it work without heat?

Thanks!

Theresa :biggrin:
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#4 Tri2Cook

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Posted 24 July 2009 - 02:24 PM

You cook it in the custard base as you would the egg.

Heat most of the base liquid with whatever sugar you're using and a pinch of salt. Make a paste with the remaining base liquid and cornstarch at around 4% of the total base by weight. Whisk the hot liquid into the paste, return to the pan and cook until slightly thickened.

Edited by Tri2Cook, 24 July 2009 - 02:38 PM.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

#5 paulraphael

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Posted 24 July 2009 - 07:34 PM

I used to use cornstarch in combination with gelatin and egg custard. Traditional custard bases give great texture, but I don't want to taste egg in my ice cream. So I drop the egg content down until it's too little to intrude ... 2 or 3 yolks per quart of ice cream, depending on the flavor.

This is anywhere from half to a fifth the yolks you'll see in French ice cream, so the reduced thickening and stabilizing will need to be made up somehow. Gelatin is phenomenal in ice cream because it gives a body-temperature melt similar to butterfat. Cornstarch works well in combination with gelatin because it maintains thickness in the melted ice cream in your mouth ... gelatin by itself will leave you with a somewhat milky/watery feel in your mouth. Cornstarch makes the melt creamier.

However, I've recently replaced cornstarch with xanthan gum, and find it superior. It's a better stabilizer (ice cream stays smooth and free of ice crystals longer) and it works in much smaller quantities. The final texture of the ice cream is a bit different than with cornstarch--I find it gives a bit more body/chewiness. So you may prefer cornstarch for textural reasons.

There are other gums that I haven't played with. Locust bean gum has a reputation as the best stabilizer for frozen desserts. I imagine it would work well in combination with gelatin.

#6 David A. Goldfarb

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Posted 24 July 2009 - 07:49 PM

I haven't made an ice cream thickened with cornstarch (I almost always use an egg custard base), but a base thickened with cornstarch would be something like a blancmange, so you might start there.

#7 tmriga

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Posted 24 July 2009 - 08:22 PM

However, I've recently replaced cornstarch with xanthan gum, and find it superior. It's a better stabilizer (ice cream stays smooth and free of ice crystals longer) and it works in much smaller quantities. The final texture of the ice cream is a bit different than with cornstarch--I find it gives a bit more body/chewiness. So you may prefer cornstarch for textural reasons.

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Thanks, all, for your responses.

It seems to me that xanthan gum is finding new homes all the time. I'm already familiar with it in baking, to add the body and chewiness you mention in the ice cream.

I'm going to go OT a little here, please bear with me. Do you know what temperature must xanthan gum be raised to, in order to activate it's properties? I am wondering if it could be used as a warm weather stabilizer for meringue-based buttercream frostings. I use the Swiss Meringue method, and take my whites to about 150 degrees F, and it might be worth spending a dozen eggs on a trial, if I can get a bit of guidance. If any of you can offer info or alternate suggestions, please feel free to PM me.

Thanks in Advance -

Theresa :biggrin:
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#8 Tri2Cook

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Posted 24 July 2009 - 08:30 PM

I'm going to go OT a little here, please bear with me.  Do you know what temperature must xanthan gum be raised to, in order to activate it's properties?

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Xanthan doesn't require heating. It will fully hydrate in cold liquids. Heating it in the meringue base won't hurt it though. It's temp stable through a pretty wide range.
I've never used it for the purpose you mentioned so I can't be much help with that as far as how well it will do the job. I have used it in combination with methylcellulose in egg whites for other purposes though. If you're going to try it be forewarned that the xanthan won't like being mixed directly into the liquid egg whites. It will want to clump. Mix it with the sugar first then whisk them into the whites together.

Edited by Tri2Cook, 24 July 2009 - 08:55 PM.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

#9 paulraphael

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Posted 24 July 2009 - 10:15 PM

If you're going to try it be forewarned that the xanthan won't like being mixed directly into the liquid egg whites. It will want to clump. Mix it with the sugar first then whisk them into the whites together.

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Along with xanthan, my recipe includes gelatin and nonfat dry milk, which all like to clump. By mixing them together thoroughly with the sugar, like you said, the problem disappears.

#10 Darienne

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Posted 26 July 2009 - 09:53 AM

This is one of those 'why didn't I think of that in the first place?' posts.

I googled 'cornstarch gelato' and came up with more recipes than I could make in a year: cappuccino, Mexican chocolate, coffee, peanut butter, limoncello, ricotta, pistachio, etc, etc.

Oddly enough, I have an Italian cookbook with a great number of gelato recipes and not one of them uses cornstarch. Is there any commercial ice cream or gelato out there made with cornstarch I wonder? I mean commercial as in a store...

I know that many of you have the experience to just use this flavor or ingredient instead of that one...I can do that with spaghetti sauce, etc...but I am very unsure of myself in this new endeavor so I'll try the recipes once until I get it in my mind the theory behind making the different flavors.

One thing I have yet to try at all, is to cut down on the fat content of the gelato to say 2% milk and see what happens.

Today we make the Fresh Cherry Gelato in honor of the abundance of good cherries at the markets. And my DH loves cherries.

Thanks all for all the help. :smile:
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#11 tmriga

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Posted 26 July 2009 - 09:58 AM

Oddly enough, I have an Italian cookbook with a great number of gelato recipes and not one of them uses cornstarch.  Is there any commercial ice cream or gelato out there made with cornstarch I wonder?  I mean commercial as in a store...

Thanks all for all the help.  :smile:

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Maltodextrin is made from cornstarch. Hence, any ice cream that lists maltodextrin in it's ingredients has a form of cornstarch in it.

Theresa :biggrin:
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#12 Darienne

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Posted 26 July 2009 - 10:13 AM


Oddly enough, I have an Italian cookbook with a great number of gelato recipes and not one of them uses cornstarch.  Is there any commercial ice cream or gelato out there made with cornstarch I wonder?  I mean commercial as in a store...

Thanks all for all the help.  :smile:

View Post


Maltodextrin is made from cornstarch. Hence, any ice cream that lists maltodextrin in it's ingredients has a form of cornstarch in it.

Theresa :biggrin:

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Gotcha. Thanks. :rolleyes:
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#13 tan319

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Posted 26 July 2009 - 11:22 AM

Adding a few tablespoons of cornstarch to an ice cream recipe instead of 5 or 6 egg yolks, while using mostly milk instead of heavy cream is of great interest to me.  A number of obvious reasons spring to mind.

I have made DL's Fleur de Lait and loved it and now today I made a recipe on Epicurious for  Chocolate Gelato.  And just my luck, while searching to ascertain whether there was a past thread on cornstarch in ice cream, I found the Fat Guy's thread on Gelato vs Ice Cream.  A post by Krazed Mom said she had made the Epicurious chocolate gelato and tweaked it with added cocoa and vanilla.  And so I did.  With wonderful results.

Has anyone else made any other cornstarch gelato or ice cream recipes which they would like to share?
Any disasters / tips which we should all know about? :wink:

View Post


This Pastry Chef has some strong thoughts on cornstarch in ice cream or gelato...
Funny and informative reading is his blog!
2317/5000

#14 Darienne

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Posted 26 July 2009 - 01:03 PM

This Pastry Chef has some strong thoughts on cornstarch in ice cream or gelato...
Funny and informative reading is his blog!

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A man of many strong opinions! :laugh:
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#15 Tri2Cook

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Posted 26 July 2009 - 03:00 PM



This Pastry Chef has some strong thoughts on cornstarch in ice cream or gelato...
Funny and informative reading is his blog!

View Post

A man of many strong opinions! :laugh:

View Post


Definitely opinionated. That's not something that normally bothers me but in this case I have to argue a bit.
First, he's incorrect about the pectin as long as you use a LM pectin. It doesn't require acid, it does it's thing with calcium. If he'd made the distinction I'd let it slide but since he just said pectin as a generality it has to be disputed.
He really should have left cornstarch off the list as well since his reasoning for shooting it down was based entirely on what he imagines to be true. If he actually tried it he'd find that, used correctly, it does just fine. There are things I now prefer to use over cornstarch but they're not things everybody has in their kitchen or can grab at their local grocery.
And finally, 1/2 & 1/2 isn't the evil thing he suggests either. Scientifically, there are differences between it and a milk/cream blend but in real world use you won't notice it in your batch of ice cream (as long as the final fat levels pretty much match). :raz:
It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

#16 tan319

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Posted 26 July 2009 - 07:38 PM



This Pastry Chef has some strong thoughts on cornstarch in ice cream or gelato...
Funny and informative reading is his blog!

View Post

A man of many strong opinions! :laugh:

View Post


Definitely opinionated. That's not something that normally bothers me but in this case I have to argue a bit.
First, he's incorrect about the pectin as long as you use a LM pectin. It doesn't require acid, it does it's thing with calcium. If he'd made the distinction I'd let it slide but since he just said pectin as a generality it has to be disputed.
He really should have left cornstarch off the list as well since his reasoning for shooting it down was based entirely on what he imagines to be true. If he actually tried it he'd find that, used correctly, it does just fine. There are things I now prefer to use over cornstarch but they're not things everybody has in their kitchen or can grab at their local grocery.
And finally, 1/2 & 1/2 isn't the evil thing he suggests either. Scientifically, there are differences between it and a milk/cream blend but in real world use you won't notice it in your batch of ice cream (as long as the final fat levels pretty much match). :raz:

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I think Kriss probably meant off the shelf pectin as I believe he uses ( named in his blog, I think) Cremoden stabilizer for ice cream, which contains pectin.
I should have mentioned Savuer (SIC?) mag way back in '01 ran an article on "authentic" gelato in Italy which uses cornstarch in the mix.
It had no eggs in it.
I experimented with it and thought it was kind of gritty and maybe the cornstarch need to be cooked out more. It froze like a rock, needed some kind of emulsifiers.
I thought that was what was Kriss Harveys point.
How do you cook out cornstarch ( at a boil, like a sauce)when eggs are present w/o the taste and mouth feel of it there?

I use half and half in recipes.
Phillipe Conticini's recipes always use it.
2317/5000

#17 Darienne

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Posted 27 July 2009 - 08:16 AM

I think Kriss probably meant off the shelf pectin as I believe he uses ( named in his blog, I think) Cremoden stabilizer for ice cream, which contains pectin.
I should have mentioned Savuer (SIC?) mag way back in '01 ran an article on "authentic" gelato in Italy which uses cornstarch in the mix.
It had no eggs in it.
I experimented with it and thought it was kind of gritty and maybe the cornstarch need to be cooked out more. It froze like a rock, needed some kind of emulsifiers.
I thought that was what was Kriss Harveys point.
How do you cook out cornstarch ( at a boil, like a sauce)when eggs are present w/o the taste and mouth feel of it there?

I use half and half in recipes.
Phillipe Conticini's recipes always use it.

View Post

I am not very practiced at any of this but I have now made ice cream/gelato about five times with cornstarch, including the last one, a Fresh Cherry Gelato which I pretty much messed up and had to go back and reheat it and add more cornstarch to it, and so far (knock on wood :wacko: ) all the results have had NO grittiness and have had incredible smoothness in fact.

I can't really describe how I 'cook it out', just mix it first with cold milk/cream and then do the pudding mixing sort of thing. Sorry. :sad:
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#18 paulraphael

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Posted 27 July 2009 - 08:48 AM

Opinions aren't all created equal, and the opinionated pastry chef just doesn't know what he's talking about. Cornstarch is a refined starch. It doesn't need to be boiled ... in fact boiling will break it down. It does need to be set with heat, but this happens somewhere around 140 or 150 degrees F--lower than than the thickening temperature of egg custard.

#19 pastrygirl

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Posted 27 July 2009 - 10:16 AM

Can't you boil it anyway, a la pastry cream? I've long wondered about the minimum amount of starch required in a pastry cream or sauce before you can boil the eggs. I really need to get McGee out of storage, but the starch interferes with the egg proteins somehow and they don't curdle.

I have made ice creams/gelatos with cornstarch, and had worked out a coupe of recipes which were then lost with my previous hard drive :sad: , otherwise I'd share. If you are concerned about over cooking the eggs and undercooking the starch, why not cook the starch with the liquid as much as you like then temper into the eggs?

Nick Malgieri has gelato recipes that are basically milk, milk powder, sugar, and a little gelatin - no eggs or starch, but when I made one I ended up adding some cornstarch because the base looked so thin. I may have added too much, I did detect a slight cornstarch-iness in the dish I had last night.

Mark Bittman has played with cornstarch too: http://www.nytimes.c..... cream&st=cse

The recipe is linked to the article, and the linked McGee article is also pretty interesting.

#20 Darienne

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Posted 27 July 2009 - 10:22 AM

Somehow this cold dessert, ice cream/gelato, has become a new obsession. I am very interested in making said with guar gum or xanthan or the like. I'll google for recipes, but would greatly appreciate any directions in finding useful recipes. (This from a woman who scarcely ever ate ice cream since teenage years when my folks had a freezer plan complete with ice cream and I thought that ice cream was strictly from hunger.)

Perhaps I'll have to start another ice cream/gelato thread...

Thanks. :rolleyes:
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#21 paulraphael

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Posted 27 July 2009 - 11:54 AM

Can't you boil it anyway, a la pastry cream?


Sure! But there's no reason to do so. And cornstarch will break down gradually with extended simmering.


I've long wondered about the minimum amount of starch required in a pastry cream or sauce before you can boil the eggs.  I really need to get McGee out of storage, but the starch interferes with the egg proteins somehow and they don't curdle.


I'm curious about this too, but Ice cream isn't the best place to test the concept. You want the milk to taste fresh, not cooked, so it's best to heat it as little as possible.

#22 Tri2Cook

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Posted 27 July 2009 - 12:01 PM

Darienne: Since you're in the mood to play...

guar = good stabilizer, better in combination with carrageenan or carrageenan + LBG

LBG = decent stabilizer alone, good in combination with carrageenan or carrageenan + guar

xanthan = good emulsifier/stabilizer for ice cream, excess can cause chewiness... best results used in combination with LBG and guar

carrageenan = kappa + iota for low fat bases, lambda for full fat bases

sodium alginate = good ice cream stabilizer

gelatin = good general-purpose stabilizer... not vegetarian like the others which may or may not be an issue

CMC = good stabilizer for low fat bases

agar = decent stabilizer for low fat bases... least ideal of those on this list

...and you can go into all kinds of experimenting with various combinations until you find the one that makes you happy. Xanthan : LBG : Guar at 1 : 1.25 : 1.25 is a good starting place for ice cream.

Edited by Tri2Cook, 27 July 2009 - 12:02 PM.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

#23 paulraphael

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Posted 27 July 2009 - 12:04 PM

Somehow this cold dessert, ice cream/gelato, has become a new obsession.  I am very interested in making said with guar gum or xanthan or the like.  I'll google for recipes, but would greatly appreciate any directions in finding useful recipes.


Michael Laiskonis's blog is a treasure trove. He knows more about ice cream than anyone else I've encountered.

The Alinea book also has some well-studied recipes and approaches. There's a French book that's supposed to be the holy grail of high end ice cream, but its price has so far put it out of my reach.

Unfortunately, most pastry chefs seem to buy pre-blended stabilizer mixes. Undoubtedly the blends include well tested mixes of gums and other colloids. But I don't like the approach. It's like buying curry powder instead of mixing your own spices. It puts you at the mercy of a company's whims (what if they change the formula?) and it cheats you out of any opportunity to learn about the individual ingredients.

I've been working it out on my own ... starting with basic home recipes like David Lebovitz's, and gradually tweaking them, with knowledge picked up here and there, to improve the flavor and texture.

So far I've gotten pretty comfortable manipulating cornstarch, xanthan, and gelatin. I hope to get my hands on some other potions eventually. I doubt anything out there will magically create textures that I like more than what i get now, but some may well do a better job preventing ice crystal growth, or graininess with brown butter flavors, etc. etc.

#24 Darienne

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Posted 27 July 2009 - 03:46 PM

Darienne: Since you're in the mood to play...

guar = good stabilizer, better in combination with carrageenan or carrageenan + LBG

LBG = decent stabilizer alone, good in combination with carrageenan or carrageenan + guar

xanthan = good emulsifier/stabilizer for ice cream, excess can cause chewiness... best results used in combination with LBG and guar

carrageenan = kappa + iota for low fat bases, lambda for full fat bases

sodium alginate = good ice cream stabilizer

gelatin = good general-purpose stabilizer... not vegetarian like the others which may or may not be an issue

CMC = good stabilizer for low fat bases

agar = decent stabilizer for low fat bases... least ideal of those on this list

...and you can go into all kinds of experimenting with various combinations until you find the one that makes you happy. Xanthan : LBG : Guar at 1 : 1.25 : 1.25 is a good starting place for ice cream.

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I don't think I am ready to play with the big kids yet. I found LBG =locust bean gum...I guess I could get that...and CMC = carboxymethycellulose...OMG I have no idea of what that is. Nor do I understand:
carrageenan = kappa + iota for low fat bases, lambda for full fat bases

I do have a BA in ancient Greek going back many years, but don't know what the Greek alphabet is doing in this equation.

Agar, gelatin, Xanthan, guar, carrageenan...I know these...and perhaps even sodium alginate, but the others are not in my sphere of knowledge at all. Aaarrgghh :wacko:

But thanks for try...
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#25 Darienne

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Posted 27 July 2009 - 03:48 PM

Somehow this cold dessert, ice cream/gelato, has become a new obsession.  I am very interested in making said with guar gum or xanthan or the like.  I'll google for recipes, but would greatly appreciate any directions in finding useful recipes.


Michael Laiskonis's blog is a treasure trove. He knows more about ice cream than anyone else I've encountered.

The Alinea book also has some well-studied recipes and approaches. There's a French book that's supposed to be the holy grail of high end ice cream, but its price has so far put it out of my reach.

Unfortunately, most pastry chefs seem to buy pre-blended stabilizer mixes. Undoubtedly the blends include well tested mixes of gums and other colloids. But I don't like the approach. It's like buying curry powder instead of mixing your own spices. It puts you at the mercy of a company's whims (what if they change the formula?) and it cheats you out of any opportunity to learn about the individual ingredients.

I've been working it out on my own ... starting with basic home recipes like David Lebovitz's, and gradually tweaking them, with knowledge picked up here and there, to improve the flavor and texture.

So far I've gotten pretty comfortable manipulating cornstarch, xanthan, and gelatin. I hope to get my hands on some other potions eventually. I doubt anything out there will magically create textures that I like more than what i get now, but some may well do a better job preventing ice crystal growth, or graininess with brown butter flavors, etc. etc.

View Post

Thanks paulraphael for all the information. I'll look up Laiskonis's blog now.
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#26 paulraphael

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Posted 27 July 2009 - 03:56 PM

A comment on Tri2cook's list ... all these ingredients have unique properties, as far as how they behave at different temperatures, the exact nature of the textures they produce, and their interdependencies with other ingredients. There may be two that are equally viable as an ice cream thickener/stabilizer, but you'll much prefer the results with one of them.

Also, some that are listed as excellent combinations are considered so because they're hyperadditive ... meaning that in combination they're more efficient than either one used alone. When you're making ice cream in small quantities, this can be a double edged sword, since most of these gums work in minute amounts anyhow. I'm ok with measuring 0.3 grams of something, but if I have to start measuring 0.03 grams, I'll be annoyed (and I'll be saving up for a new scale).

#27 Tri2Cook

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Posted 27 July 2009 - 06:07 PM

I'm ok with measuring 0.3 grams of something, but if I have to start measuring 0.03 grams, I'll be annoyed (and I'll be saving up for a new scale).

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For working with most hydrocolloids, a scale that goes down to a hundredth of a gram is well worth the $50 - $60 you can get them for. Unless you do huge batch sizes, you'll be dealing in those sorts of numbers quite often.
It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

#28 Tri2Cook

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Posted 27 July 2009 - 06:57 PM

carrageenan = kappa + iota for low fat bases, lambda for full fat bases

I do have a BA in ancient Greek going back many years, but don't know what the Greek alphabet is doing in this equation. 

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There's nothing mysterious about it, just think of it in terms of varieties. If you grow Brandywine, San Marzano and Green Zebra tomatoes they're all tomatoes but each has it's own individual characteristics and will be best suited for a particular purpose. Sometimes combining a couple of varieties gives you the results you want, say a mix of Sungold and Black cherry tomatoes to get the sweet and tart thing happening.
The three carrageenan types produce different gel strengths and serve different purposes depending on application. Kappa is firm and brittle gelling, especially in the presence of potassium. Iota is soft and elastic gelling with it's strongest gel forming in the presence of calcium. They both require heat for proper hydration. Lambda is cold soluble but can be used in heated applications as well. It's very-soft/non gelling.
It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

#29 Darienne

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Posted 28 July 2009 - 04:35 AM

There's nothing mysterious about it, just think of it in terms of varieties. If you grow Brandywine, San Marzano and Green Zebra tomatoes they're all tomatoes but each has it's own individual characteristics and will be best suited for a particular purpose. Sometimes combining a couple of varieties gives you the results you want, say a mix of Sungold and Black cherry tomatoes to get the sweet and tart thing happening.
The three carrageenan types produce different gel strengths and serve different purposes depending on application. Kappa is firm and brittle gelling, especially in the presence of potassium. Iota is soft and elastic gelling with it's strongest gel forming in the presence of calcium. They both require heat for proper hydration. Lambda is cold soluble but can be used in heated applications as well. It's very-soft/non gelling.

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Thanks. That makes it clear. :smile:
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#30 Darienne

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  • Location:Rolling Hills of Cavan, Ontario

Posted 29 July 2009 - 12:12 PM

Just made the mixture for Pomegranate Gelato. In my own inimitable way, I did not read the recipe CAREFULLY before starting...just zipped through it...and then realized that it called for only 2 tablespoons of cornstarch to 3 1/2 cups of liquid: milk, cream, pomegranate juice, lemon juice & liqueur.

Gosh I thought. Surely that's not enough cornstarch. DL's Fleur de Lait calls for 3 tablespoons for 3 cups of liquid. As the mixture was cooling, I went back into my Gelato recipe folder and called up one recipe after another. So, although some of them called for 3 tablespoons of cornstarch, many called for only 2.

OK. So now we see if it will work or not. My gut instinct was telling me to reheat the mixture with another tablespoon of cornstarch, but my more investigative side said: nope, give it a chance. You'll eat it even if it doesn't come together.

I suppose I could also reheat and add cornstarch to it even after it's been in the ice cream maker??? :hmmm:
Darienne


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