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Hi guys, in last few months i have seen a few recipes with this ingredient i have no idea of: methocel. As they were recipes i wasn't going to recreate i didnt care much of what was it but for some reason im now very curious about it.

I did a little bit of research on the net and found a lot of info but most of it was chemistry or farmaceutically oriented, and not much info about culinary uses of it, including egullet.

Anyone could describe and give some information of these cellulose ethers in a foodish way?

Thanks a lot!

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That's a good thread to start with but it only starts to get into some of more interesting applications. I confess that I've never worked with the stuff, but hopefully that's about to change.

I highly suggest (as usual) www.ideasinfood.com for some more novel applications. Among them include "sheets" of sauce, and hot ice cream that was mentioned in the above thread. I'm actually in the process of trying to procure some right now but the people at Dow Chemical food science are not being particularly responsive.

The strangest thing that I've found is the wide variety of formulations offered by the likes of Dow. In contrast, I'm not sure about the properties of the stuff that's available from willpowder. Once I get some free time I'll look into it more. Methocel is going to be my next toy so hopefully someting good will come out of all this in the next few weeks.

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thanks for the link johnder, i guess it didnt cross my mind to search for the full name of it.

Bryan, ideasinfood was the trigger of my curiosity about methocel and the first thing i did was looking in at Dow Chemical web site for my local distributor. The call to them only confused me more, as they told me they had 20 different types of methylcellulose, which are named with letters and numbers, and the girl behind the phone knew even less than me about this product.

I guess i'll try to get the methocel used by A. Talbot and give it a try.

Edited by ATram (log)
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Ok, this is what a friend, who studies chemistry, could get me from his job:


(click for a larger photo)

They are labled as:

- Metolose SM-15 (methylcellulose usp)

- Pharmacoat 615 (hydroxypropyl methyl cellulose)

- Metolose 90SH-15000 (hydroxypropyl methyl cellulose)

He also gave me some documentation that specifies everything about the compounds.

The not so good news is that it has a list of applicable types (as i said before there are more than 20 different types of methylcellulose than can be prepared depending on the number of hydroxyl groups) for different fields and the ones I have are applicable for things like Fire-resistant coating, Paint, Self-leveling materials, Sand ant Tile cement mortar, Thermal paper, Printing paste, Agricultural chemicals, etc.....

But im going to experiment with them anyway, as they are innocuous and i got them for free.

I'll post any results i get.

Edit: I did a quick scan of the docs for the ones that want to give it a read, it has some good information. Download the pdf from <a href="http://s90525316.onlinehome.us/temporal/Metolose doc.pdf">here</a>

Edited by ATram (log)
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Methylcell is completely indigestible, much like fiber. In fact it used to be added to fiber supplements, but was taken out by the FDA because if eaten in a pure, non-hydrated state, then there was a slight risk of stomach blockage, but as are as I know, no cases were ever reported in conjunction to this.

The trick to using it is hydration. If you try to mix it cold you'll get little globs of gel with powder in the center. If you mix it into boiling water, the gel will set and make it a pain in the ass to mix.....so what do you do?

Take the powder and put into some vessel, and pour a quantity of boiling water over the powder, stirring vigorously to disperse the particles. As soon as the powder is dispersed, and not a second later, shock the slurry in an ice-water bath, then hold at about 4degrees centigrade until you want to heat it.

I've played with it as an ice cream additive and as a replacer for eggs and gluten, with decent results, making a decent hot meringue. I would say you should get a sub gram scale, because it can be a little touchy, although not quite as sensitive as the proportions used in something like sphereification (I haven't acquired one yet and haven't had a total disaster, yet)

I get mine from chefrubber.com, about 3.00$ for 100 grams, although I am not sure which form of CMC it is, it works well enough.

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I asked him about if they were food grade or not and he said he thinks that yes...

thanks for the tips s_sevilla, the first thing i tried to do was trying to dissolve it in water in many different ways, with some of the results you describe. I'll try your way of hydratation and see what happens.

So far i tried with a disolution of 1-3% wt and didnt get a gel. I'll try with more concentrated solutions later.

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Of those available at Terra Spice, which are best for novel applications?

I believe that SGA150 is used in hot ice cream, but what about the A15C that ideasinfood frequently refers to?

I promise I'll start contributing some real information to this thread once I get some free time to start calling people, but for now I'm pretty much ignorant.

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Vadouvan, as your concern about the food grade of the products i have been digging a little bit and found out that the USP that says in one of the methocel (Metolose SM-15, as stated some posts above) stands for US Pharmacopeia and means that it is "Food Grade". The other two doesnt state that so i guess they are more something like agricultural/industrial grade, so i wont do eating experiments with them.

I think that the SM-15 i have is the same or very similar to the A15C by Methocel used in ideasinfood as the number in the names indicate the viscocity grade of the compound which is one of the main caracteristics.

If anyone have any experiment they would like to suggest for me to try and document dont hesitate in saying it, i would be excited to test-

By the way, if anyone is intrested Biddle Sawyer is the sales representatives of the methyl cellulose im using, looks like you can order online or visit them in their new york store.

Edited by ATram (log)
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here is a quick breakdown for dow's methocels

the are catagorized by types....

There are five types of dow methocels

Type SGA

Type A

Type E

Type F

Type K

Each type has a different gelling temperature.

Each type has a different grade with various viscosities.

The SGA METHOCEL gels between 38-44 degrees C

The A METHOCEL gels between 50-55 degrees C

The E METHOCEL gels between 58-63 degrees C

The F METHOCEL gels between 62-68 degrees C

The K METHOCEL gels between 70-90 degrees C

The amount of heat that will be applied to the final product will determine the type of methocel that you want to use.....

For instance if you are doing a "noodle" that is going to be added to hot water, you will need to use the SGA150, it gels really fast....If you are "whipping" something that needs to be heated for a longer period of time on the stove you would want to use an E or an F.....

hope this helps and spawns more questions and experimentations


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I just realized I'm using Carboxylmethylcellulose, and not hydroxymethylcellulose.

Any experience with the difference between these two forms of Methylcel?

My son who's an honours chemistry graduate tells me:

They will have the identical basic structure, but one will have a hydroxyl

group attached (-OH) and the other will have a carboxymethyl (-CH2-COOH)

group in that place instead.

Both are a derivative of cellulose - a long chain carbohydrate polymer,

and both will have different groups attached to the base (repeating) polymer



hydroxymethylcellulose = cellulose + methyl group + hydroxyl group

carboxymethylcellulose = cellulose + carboxymethyl group

These differences basically will slightly alter how the polymer behaves

(viscosity etc), but he imagines they would be quite similar.

He's suggested checking out:



Hope that sheds a little light :rolleyes: It's a while since I studied chemistry :wink:

Website: http://cookingdownunder.com

Blog: http://cookingdownunder.com/blog

Twitter: @patinoz

The floggings will continue until morale improves

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thanks for the info on the structure, but I was hoping someone would have some experiece with the physical properties of the two. As far as I know, there is only one for of CMC available, while the hydroxymethylcellulose has many different commercial forms based on the number of hydroxyl ions used to substiture for the methyl groups on the cellulose chain.

are the gelling and set temperatures comparable between the two? and is the stability of the gel the same?

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  • 4 weeks later...

Perhaps the mods want to link this thread and the "Methylcellulose" thread. I just thought I'd post here since it's newer. Both threads have some good information.

Anyway, I received some Dow Methocel today in a few different formulations. The advantage of the the Dow products is that each formulation has a distinct gelling temperature and thickening power.



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This stuff is really interesting. My first formal experiment wasn't exactly an overwhelming success, but I've heard of people who have failed miserably at putting this stuff together.

My first experiment was the hot "ice cream" posted at Ideas in Food.

One of the big things they say is to avoid aeration. I think this was my problem, since little air bubbles during the blending process got trapped in the gel and kept the ice cream from being as dense.

I also feel like it doesn't quite melt as much as it softens. You know how ice cream has a solid core and the outside melts into puddles as it warms. This is more like a gel at the center and the outside softens and becomes creamier. The two are subtle differences in explanation but are quite different when one is actually eating and working with the hot ice cream.

Although the recipe says the scoops are supposed to become quite firm I didn't observe this. This could be because I incorporated too much air.

In one of their notebooks they make the following comment: "Think about adding carrageenan and gelatin to the hot ice cream recipe."

This makes sense as it might make for easier scooping and formation of the weak gel pre-poaching. By using SGA150, I think they're trying to get maximum gelation upon heating without adding to much viscosity to the "post-poaching cooled" base. By adding gelatin you could create a stronger "pre-poaching cool" gel base. Upon heating the gelatin would be denatured, giving you a lower viscosity "post-poaching cooled" base, more analagous in mouth feel to ice cream.

Of course, the above is pure speculation and likely incorrect. I'm waiting for you s_sevilla to give me some scientific explanation that I can google to try to understand.

A picture of the dessert. As you can tell I'm having trouble with the shape because I lack a hemispherical ice cream scoop. I tried to quenelle as best I could but the pre-poaching gel is too weak to hold much shape without support. For those familiar with spherication, this is like to trying to make a nice s'pher with a table spoon.


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Perhaps the mods want to link this thread and the "Methylcellulose" thread.  I just thought I'd post here since it's newer.  Both threads have some good information.

Anyway, I received some Dow Methocel today in a few different formulations.  The advantage of the the Dow products is that each formulation has a distinct gelling temperature and thickening power.



Where did you buy the Dow Methocel? Robyn

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Samples from Dow. Just be convincing. If you're in anyway associated with the "industry" just be persistent. Took me a couple emails and calls, but I got the stuff without any undue stress.

It also helps if you vaguely know what you're talking about. PM me if you want more info.

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