Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Fat Guy

The art and science of the smoothie

Recommended Posts

This morning I tried to replicate the approach of the vendor doing the Vita-Mix demo at Costco. His general recommended ratio was 2/3 frozen, 1/3 liquid.

My ratios (at least for the Blendtec) are:

Smoothies: 1 part by volume loosley packed frozen something, 1 part liquid. So for example I'd fill a 1 cup measuring cup to the top with frozen strawberries and then use one cup liquid.

Frozen desserts (soft serve "ice cream"): 2 parts by volume loosely packed frozen something, 1 part liquid.

The "frozen something" is either frozen fruit or ice. I most often use frozen fruit and no ice, but will use ice if I making something like a mocha smoothie that has no fruit.

Frozen desserts will need some kind of stabilizer. Bananas are what the vendors use in the demo. I don't like to use them because they are high in carbs. Instead I substitute xanthan gum. For 1 cup liquid, 2 cups frozen something I use 1 tsp xanthan gum. (I use about 1/2 tsp in smoothies.) Put the liquid in the blender, sprinkle the xanthan (and any other powdered ingredients) on top, and pulse a few times to combine. Then add the frozen something and blend away!


Mark

My eG Food Blog

www.markiscooking.com

My T shirt site: Guy Bling

My NEW Ribs site: BlasphemyRibs.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ah! Thanks, Mark. I bet I heard only part of what the vendor was saying. He must have been referring to frozen desserts; he made several while I was standing there. Mine was not just creamy and smooth, it was thick and I ended up adding more OJ, and it was still fairly thick. So I'll try to hit that half and half ratio tomorrow morning. Unless I want dessert for breakfast.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Does anyone have a recipe or ideas for a Matcha Smoothie. I have some much better than food grade matcha that I can use, though I don't think this good is necessary; it's just what's on hand. My thinking so far is that soy tends to work better than milk in the ones I have had commercially, since it gives a richer flavor. So soy milk, ice cubes, matcha and xantham gum or similar as thickener. How much matcha? Anything else I should try adding?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Can someone explain to me the reason why anyone would want to put xanthan gum into a perfectly natural and healthy smoothie? Just curious...

For me, the main reason is a low carb alternative to the ingredients "normally" used to hold a smoothie together and to give it "body" for lack of better description. Usually this is done with bananas. I love bananas but they are very high in carbs.

In frozen desserts, it has the same function, but is more necessary than with a smoothie.

And, as slkinsey correctly states, xanthan gum is a natural product, usually made from fermented corn.


Mark

My eG Food Blog

www.markiscooking.com

My T shirt site: Guy Bling

My NEW Ribs site: BlasphemyRibs.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

But from what I can see, Xanthan Gum is a carbohydrate, too. The very name is enough to make me not want to consider using it and coming from Europe, I tried to avoid anything with "E numbers" in it (Xanthan Gum is E145). I will stick to bananas, thank you. But each to his own.

By the way, it is also used to help lubricate oil wells.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I made a run to Central Market and picked up some flax seed and vanilla protein powder last night. Got home and noticed mention here of ground flax seed. Do I need to grind it or buy ground instead of whole seed? Does it make any difference

As was noted above, flax seed needs to be ground in order for the body to absorb it properly. Also, apparently, the fresher the better, otherwise the essential oils and fatty acids begin to degrade and lose their essential nutrients. Refrigerating or freezing probably helps, and now and then I get ambitious and grind enough to last a week and freeze the stuff. I use a coffee grinder and grind the bejesus out of it -- roughly 80 seconds for the best consistency so there's no grittiness in the smoothy. There's nothing worse than a gritty smoothy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Avoiding everything that has an E-number would lead you to eating very little raw and processed foods. Vitamin C, Chlorophyll, Lecithin, vinegar, and many other organic acids all have E-numbers.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

But from what I can see, Xanthan Gum is a carbohydrate, too. The very name is enough to make me not want to consider using it and coming from Europe, I tried to avoid anything with "E numbers" in it (Xanthan Gum is E145). I will stick to bananas, thank you. But each to his own.

By the way, it is also used to help lubricate oil wells.

To be fair to other readers, The E400 group is "natural gums" (Xanthan is E415, not E145).

You could substitute other natural gums (Locust Bean Gum for example) but they are much harder to find locally. But they are all in the E400 list.


Mark

My eG Food Blog

www.markiscooking.com

My T shirt site: Guy Bling

My NEW Ribs site: BlasphemyRibs.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What is so wrong with other, truly natural thickeners? I understand that some folks don't like the carbs in bananas - which I don't have a problem with, I eat a banana a day any way.

I have seen references to oatmeal being used as a thickener. It's a carbohydrate, but is a whole grain, which is a "good carb" in my book. Somewhere I read about soaking Chia seeds to produce a natural thickening agent. Anybody tried that? Also somewhere else I saw something a bit more way out - Irish Moss. Anybody been brave enough to test that one? A little bizarre, but truly natural.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I may have missed something, Tony, but I don't see a post saying there is anything wrong with "truly natural" alternatives to a banana as thickener, though I don't understand the difference between "natural" and "truly natural". That said, I found some interesting information on Irish Moss (E407 or 407b) on Wikipedia, that suggests it might work in a smoothie.

Irish moss is also used to make a beverage popular in the Caribbean. The beverage is made by boiling the Irish moss for about an hour in water. Flavourings including vanilla, peanut or strawberry may be added, and finally milk or sweetened condensed milk, rum and spices are added. It is usually served chilled, is very thick and is sometimes thought to have aphrodisiac qualities, and a cure for male impotence.

Despite the attractive prospect of aphrodisiac qualities, working with Irish Moss appears to be a bit of a project and I would have to mail order it; so whenever I get around to experimenting again with trying to make a Matcha Smoothie, I'll most likely use Bob's Red Mill Xantham Gum, because I can get it easily at Central Market locally.


Edited by Richard Kilgore add link (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not sure if this has been mentioned, but buttermilk is fantastic in smoothies. I like it as an alternative to plain yogurt, and find it matches particularly well with berries and peaches.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Richard, I originally was curious as to why the need to add a manufactured product (albeit from natural ingredients) like Xantham Gum. By "truly natural" I was meaning an unprocessed ingredient.

Thanks for the tips about Irish Moss. I'll mention it to my wife when she goes shopping.


Edited by Tony Boulton (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think that the original need was to use a thickener other than banana, and the most convenient and obvious one is xantham gum. I see no "need" in any of the above posts for a thickener that is natural, truly natural, unnatural or truly unnatural - just a need for a banana substitute.

Have you looked at what kind of processing at home it would take to make Irish Moss possibly usable for a smoothie? Yikes! And "natural" is no guarantee of healthy or safe; Irish Moss is a hazard to anyone taking a blood thinner, for example, because it has a blood thinning effect itself.

So I'll pose the opposite: why the need for a "truly natural" thickener when there are convenient, natural, easily obtainable alternatives that require no processing at home to make them usable?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Irish Moss could be used I guess, but as Richard has pointed out, it takes a lot of processing to get it to the point where it would be useful in a smoothie. It takes an extended boiling time to separate out the active ingredient (carrageenan) from the flakes and also to boil off the smell. Irish moss is usually pretty stinky as it is dried seaweed and usually smells exactly like what it is: dried seaweed. (I used to own a brewery and homebrew supply store so I am intimately familiar with Irish Moss - we used and sold a lot of it.)

Rather than go through all the trouble, I'll just spoon in some xanthan gum!


Mark

My eG Food Blog

www.markiscooking.com

My T shirt site: Guy Bling

My NEW Ribs site: BlasphemyRibs.com

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Art & Science of the Smoothie, Engineering Department:

I have been adding Bob's Redmill ground flaxseed as someone here, Steven I think, suggested. While living forever is an obvious plus, I have not enjoyed the grainy texture that this gives my smoothies. Today I took about 60 seconds extra and ground the pre-ground flax seed with a mortar and pestle and now my smooth smoothie is even smoother.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Have you considered putting just the flax seed and liquid into the VitaPrep and letting that run for 60 seconds or so before adding the other stuff?


--

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Huh. How grainy is the preground stuff? I wonder if it might be easier to whirl it around in a spice (aka coffee) grinder?


--

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Have you considered putting just the flax seed and liquid into the VitaPrep and letting that run for 60 seconds or so before adding the other stuff?

I tried this today, but with two minutes in the Vita-Prep; this got rid of the graininess in the mouthfeel and produced a warm smoothie - 78 F after pouring it into my glass and letting it cool for a few seconds. Salvaged with a few ice cubes and re-blending. Not sure why I remembred your suggestion as 2 minutes, rather than 1. I may try again tomorrow.

Huh. How grainy is the preground stuff? I wonder if it might be easier to whirl it around in a spice (aka coffee) grinder?

It's like grains of sand. I don't mind using a mortar and pestle, which are right on the counter top anyway.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...