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Playing with texture


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I've put together a collection of more than 100 recipes utilizing the full range of hydrocolloids that are becoming available to the average consumer. The collection is available for free download from:

http://khymos.org/hydrocolloid-recipe-collection-v1.pdf (433 kB, 29 pages)

Download it, use it and let me know if you have recipes that should be included in a future update!


Here's what I've writting in the introduction:

A hydrocolloid can simply be defined as a substance that forms a gel in contact with water. Such substances include both polysaccharides and proteins which are capable of one or more of the following: thickening and gelling aqueous solutions, stabilizing foams, emulsions and dispersions and preventing crystallization of saturated water or sugar solutions.

In the recent years there has been a tremendous interest in molecular gastronomy. Part of this interest has been directed towards the “new” hydrocolloids. The term “new” includes hydrocolloids such as xanthan which is a result of relatively recent research, but also hydrocolloids such as agar which has been unknown in western cooking, but used in Asia for decades. One fortunate consequence of the increased interest in molecular gastronomy and hydrocolloids is that hydrocolloids that were previously only available to the food industry have become available in small quantities at a reasonable price. A less fortunate consequence however is that many have come to regard molecular gastronomy as synonymous with the use of hydrocolloids to prepare foams and spheres. I should therefore emphasize that molecular gastronomy is not limited to the use of hydrocolloids and that it is not the intention of this collection of recipes to define molecular gastronomy.

One major challenge (at least for an amateur cook) is to find recipes and directions to utilize the “new” hydrocolloids. When purchasing hydrocolloids, typically only a few recipes are included. Personally I like to browse several recipes to get an idea of the different possibilities when cooking. Therefore I have collected more than 100 recipes which utilize hydrocolloids ranging from agar to xanthan. In addition to these some recipes with lecithin (not technically a hydrocolloid) have been included. Recipes for espumas that do not call for addition of gelatin or other thickening agents have also been included for completeness.

All recipes have been changed to SI units which are the ones preferred by the scientific community (and hopefully soon by the cooks as well). As far as possible, brand names have been replaced by generic names. Most of the recipes have been edited and some have been shortened significantly. In some recipes, obvious mistakes have been corrected. But unfortunately, the recipes have not been tested, so there is no guarantee that they actually work as intended and that the directions are complete, accurate and correct. The recipes have been collected from various printed and electronic sources and every attempt has been made to give the source of the recipes.

Since recipes can neither be patented nor copyrighted, every reader should feel free to download, print, use, modify, distribute and further develop the recipes contained in this compilation. The latest version will be available for download from http://khymos.org/recipe-collection.php and will also be announced at http://blog.khymos.org. Feedback, comments, corrections and new recipes are welcome at recipe.at.khymos.dot.org.

Martin Lersch, PhD
Chemist and food enthusiast

Visit Khymos, a blog dedicated to molecular gastronomy and popular food science.

Follow me on twitter @tastymolecules

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Wonderful stuff Martin.

You asked for suggestions

a) I'd like to see an introduction to each section that explains the principles, and maybe some master recipes,, For example one one understands he principle and concentrations needed you could vary the flavours of say foams. Examples from Midsummer House include Grapefruit and Champagne, Garlic and Bay leaf, cep, pea, strawberry, vanilla, coffee etc, the list is endless one the principle is established.

b) I'd like to see some classics that use hydrocolloids, such as Jams, marmalade's, membrillo and fruit cheeses, Jellies and Pate de Fruit in the pectin section, and classic jello, hot or cold consomme, salmon or prawn mousse in the gelatin section.

c) There can be many more non gelatin espuma's: carrot air for example, but also chocolate (lecithin) based such as mousse/souffle/roulade/fondant. Other lecithin based are egg yolk based such as zabaglione...

d) I guess starch based systems like Turkish Delight ans any of the flour, roux or cornflour thickened sauces are out of scope, although they are hydrocolloids. If you allow them then dough might be considered as well.

d) Pictures! I'm sure eG'ers can help

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thanks a lot for many good suggestions! I agree that master recipes would be beneficial. For now readers would be advised to "cross read" the recipes and make up their own master recipe. I've made a note of your suggestions under b).

Regarding non-gelatin espumas - do you have any recipes? (you mention carrot air)

It was quite difficult to find good lecithin recipes - I've tried the Frozen parmesan air recipe and I must admit that it was not a huge success. This might be because my handheld immersion blender does not have the proper attachment for making airs (it has a knife, not a tilted disk).

I did consider starch and flour, but I feel they are pretty well covered in other cookbooks. I will include them however if I find recipes that illustrate uncommon properties of these. Turkish Delight is certainly a good candidate. I'll look into that.

Martin Lersch, PhD
Chemist and food enthusiast

Visit Khymos, a blog dedicated to molecular gastronomy and popular food science.

Follow me on twitter @tastymolecules

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This might be because my handheld immersion blender does not have the proper attachment for making airs (it has a knife, not a tilted disk).

I tried a lemon air last night and froze it using my Bamix immersion blender. 50/50 lemon juice and water with a dash of agave syrup to take off the edge (and I couldn't be bothered dissolving sugar in the mix). I actually found the blade was better than the tilted disc or the whisk disc (perforated). The trick was to get the height in the liquid just right. Too low and you create a whirlpool destroying the forming foam. Too high and it splatters, also killing the foam.

The two things I noticed were

- Using a flatter container (sandwich box) was better than a tall blender beaker. Keeping the blender in a corner allowed the foam to gather elsewhere in the box.

- Using a baffle to stop the whirlpool effect. I placed a large spoon in the box near the blade to break up the flow. This allows bubbles to rise and stops them being destroyed

I found freezing to work but bubbles defrost really quickly and don't remain stable when they have defrosted. I think I added a bit too much lecethin when I was annoyed it wasnt foaming because whilst it tasted fresh when made, it picked up a slimy soapy taste and mouth feel when frozen.

Interestingly, my gourmet whip arrived last night and as I was cooking Thai curry noodles, I had spare coconut milk and tried the Pina Colada. Very surprised it worked as I was using fresh pressed pineapple juice and I thought the bromelain enzyme would stop the gelling process from working. I can only presume the juice may have been pasteurised by the supermarket. I have to say it was exceedingly tasty (especially with double the rum, you couldn't taste it to start with) and had the interesting effect of making me tipsy despite the fact I only had around a shot of alcohol total in the few glasses I made

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tkerby: Some good tips there! These are exatly the kind of tips and hints I would like to include in a future update, for instance in a master recipe or in an introduction to lecithin. Using a flat container and baffling makes sense. It's quite interesting that the foaming works better with the blades than with a tilted or perforated disk. I wonder if this is true for all immersion blenders? I remember that the foam/air was very fragile, but this might be because I expected something that would be slightly more stable.

KLwood: No plans to print it on paper for now. But feel free to download the pdf, print it and distribute it!

Martin Lersch, PhD
Chemist and food enthusiast

Visit Khymos, a blog dedicated to molecular gastronomy and popular food science.

Follow me on twitter @tastymolecules

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Martin, thanks so much for putting this together and making it available to all of us! I'm sure it was a lot of time and effort to do. I'll be sure to distribute it to any of my students who are interested in this sort of thing.

Thanks again,


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  • 1 month later...
  • 2 months later...
  • 4 months later...


Texture - A hydrocolloid recipe collection

It’s a pleasure for me to announce that an updated version of the hydrocolloid recipe collection is available for free download as a pdf file (73 pages, 1.8 Mb).

What’s new?

Several new recipes have been added (now counting more than 220 in total), including recipes with cornstarch, guar gum, gum arabic, konjac and locust bean gum. All in all 14 different hydrocolloids are included (plus lecithin which technically isn’t a hydrocolloid). In each section recipes are now sorted according to the amount of hydrocolloid used. The appendix has been updated with tables for comparison of hydrocolloid properties, hydrocolloid densities and synergies. The perhaps biggest change is that all recipes have been indexed according both to the texture/appearance of the resulting dish and according to the hydrocolloid used. Let’s say you want to make spheres, this index will show you which hydrocolloids can be used (that’s right - there are other possiblities than sodium alginate) and list the example recipes.

Table of contents

Agar 6

Carrageenan 11

Cornstarch 14

Gelatin 18

Gellan 26

Guar gum 30

Gum arabic 32

Konjac 33

Lecithin 34

Locust bean gum 36

Maltodextrin 37

Methyl cellulose 38

Pectin 41

Sodium alginate 44

Xanthan 49

Multi-hydrocolloid recipes 52

Non-hydrocolloid foams 57

Appendix 59

- Comparison of gel texture in common gelling agents 59

- Volume-weight conversion of hydrocolloids 59

- Synergies 59

- Gelatin gels with alcohol 60

- List of common chemicals 60

- Conversion table for brand names 61

- Miscellaneous 61

- Comparison of hydrocolloid properties 62

References 65

Suppliers 66

Texture index 67

- Overview of texture-hydrocolloid combinations represented in recipe collection 67

- List of recipes according to texture and hydrocolloid used 68

Keyword index 73

Martin Lersch, PhD
Chemist and food enthusiast

Visit Khymos, a blog dedicated to molecular gastronomy and popular food science.

Follow me on twitter @tastymolecules

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Very cool to see you keeping this awesome resource alive with update. Thanks!

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

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Cool! Since I just aquired my very own small chemistry set it is doubly appreciated.

(See http://www.flickr.com/photos/26839885@N08/ )

Edit: I just checked out the new edition. It is totally awesome - probably the most comprehensive hydrocolloid resource anywhere in the world.

(Well, if anyone knows of a better one, please tell me!)

Edited by TheSwede (log)
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  • 1 month later...

Just to let you know that version 2.1 of "Texture - A hydrocolloid recipe collection" is now available for download.

Changes include corrections of typos, minor additions to the property tables plus an important update in the gelatin section and a recipe for agar filtration (similar to gelation filtration, just faster!). There is also a formula for conversion between gelatin bloom strengths.

More info on the formula for conversion between gelation of different bloom strength:


Note that this formula differs from one found in another egullet thread - the simplest way to compare the two formulas is to multiply the bloom strength with the weight or the check the formula is to multiply the bloom strength of a sheet with the weight of the sheet. I got better results by omitting the square root, i.e. simply assuming that the product of the weight and bloom strength is constant.

Avg bloom  g/sheet  bloom * weight  sqrt(bloom) * weight
140        3.3      462             39
170        2.5      425             33
205        2.0      410             29
250        1.7      425             27

Relative standard deviation for product using "new" formula: 4%
Relative standard devation for product using "old" formula: 17%

New formula: mass B = mass A x (bloom A/bloom B)
Old formula: mass B = mass A x (bloom A/bloom B)^0.5

Martin Lersch, PhD
Chemist and food enthusiast

Visit Khymos, a blog dedicated to molecular gastronomy and popular food science.

Follow me on twitter @tastymolecules

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thanks Martin, invaluable as ever.

“Do you not find that bacon, sausage, egg, chips, black pudding, beans, mushrooms, tomatoes, fried bread and a cup of tea; is a meal in itself really?” Hovis Presley.

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  • 5 months later...

Just a small note to let you know that I've just published an update of "Texture - A hydrocolloid recipe collection" (version 2.2). There are two file sizes available: screen resolution (~1 MB) and high resolution for printing (~5 MB). It published under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License so the download is free.

What is new?

The total number of recipes is now around 270.

Supplier list updated

New index for alcoholic preparations

Small glossary added

Typos corrected

As usual I'm always interested in feedback. You are always welcome to provide new recipes. What can be done to further improve the collection?

Martin Lersch, PhD
Chemist and food enthusiast

Visit Khymos, a blog dedicated to molecular gastronomy and popular food science.

Follow me on twitter @tastymolecules

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Martin, from an interested spectator, thanks!


What can be done to further improve the collection?

You note (on page 5) that not all the recipes are tested, let alone optimised. It might be helpful to note the distinction between those that are fully 'de-bugged' and those where you would particularly welcome feedback. Maybe marking recipes with some graphical symbol(s) to show their status?

There are now sufficient recipes that I feel that an additional traditional-style recipe index (by ingredient/title/etc) would be worthwhile, facilitating comparison, for example between similar recipes, particularly those using different hydrocolloids - for obvious examples the various different Turkish Delights, Vinaigrettes and Ice Creams, and even to indicate the existence of plural recipes for essentially similar dishes, but using different proportions of the same hydrocolloid.

Its an amazing resource, well done! :smile:

Edited by dougal (log)

"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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  • 5 weeks later...
  • 11 months later...

Back in 2007 Jack (jackal10) came up with a wish for pictures in his reply to one of my first posts. Already then I thought that it would be great to expand the collection with pictures. And finally I've now started the work to collect pictures - sorry it took so long. But to get things going I definitely need all the help I can get. Here's the deal:


A picture is worth a thousand words, and this is also true for recipes. Several who have downloaded “Texture – A hydrocolloid recipe collection” have asked for pictures and now it’s time to do something about that! A picture can illustrate texture well and is an excellent supplement to the descriptions. I therefore invite to you to contribute to the recipe collection by taking pictures to accompany the recipes. But before you run to grab your camera, please take a note of the following:

  • Pictures should clearly show the component described in the recipe. If you take a close up picture against a neutral background it’s good if one still has a feeling of what the scale is.
  • Only send a picture if you actually followed the recipe! This way the picture can also serve as an indication that the recipe as been tested. However, if you for some reason have modified a recipe for a better or different result I would also be very interested in hearing about this.
  • Pictures should be in focus and well lit. But remember that Photoshop can do wonders, so please do send pictures even though the colors seem a little dull.
  • Pictures will be cropped to a 1:1 aspect ratio as shown above
  • Preferred minimum resolution is 450 x 450 pixels
  • It’s a requirement that the picture is taken by you and that you are willing to provide it for use in “Texture – A hydrocolloid recipe collection” under a Creative Commons Attribution – Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License since the whole recipe collection is published under such a license
  • I reserve the right to crop pictures and do color/brightness/sharpness adjustments
  • I reserve the right not to use pictures received (and I only intend to include one picture for every recipe)
  • Pictures will be attributed to the photographer as shown in the above illustration.

If you have read the above and agree you’re ready to send your texture pictures to me at this email address: texture.pictures (at) gmail.com. Remember to include the name of the recipe photographed and your name as it should appear under the picture.

Thank you very much for helping me make this collection even more useful!

Martin Lersch, PhD
Chemist and food enthusiast

Visit Khymos, a blog dedicated to molecular gastronomy and popular food science.

Follow me on twitter @tastymolecules

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