Thickeners: What Are They And How Can They Be Used?

Without thickeners, the food would present itself as a loose affair: jam would be juice, bread would crumble and sausage spread would be anything but creamy. The industry uses a variety of binding agents, whether in sauces or meat products. Find out what thickeners are available.

Solid link: thickener

Thickeners and food are often inextricably linked. Industrially processed foods in particular contain the additives marked with E numbers. For example, the thickening agents carrageenan, xanthan gum, gum arabic, modified starch, and pectin can be found on many lists of ingredients. What they all have in common is their function as binding agents. The dietary fibers, mostly made from algae and plants, bind water and thereby increase the viscosity of liquids: their consistency becomes more viscous and food leaves a pleasant feeling in the mouth. When baking and cooking in the home kitchen, thickeners are also indispensable. With gelatine, for example, the cake glaze and the creamy dessert are a success. Would you like to know which part of the animal gelatine is made from? – The meat expert knows it.

Thickener for your kitchen

Depending on the type of diet and the demand for the naturalness of food, you can choose the right thickening agent for you at home. If you are looking for a vegan gelatine substitute, you can use the thickening agent agar-agar, for example. Like carrageenan, it is obtained from algae. There are also guar gum, locust bean gum, arrowroot starch, tapioca, and pectin as thickeners. And the grandmother already used egg yolk, flour and corn, and potato starch. What you use for which recipe mainly depends on whether you want to prepare cold or warm food. Because some supports dissolve when cold, while others have to be heated to develop their binding power. It is best to follow the manufacturer’s preparation instructions and the information in the recipe exactly.

The most important tips for use

Basically, gelatine is first soaked in cold water and then dissolved in warm liquid. This should not boil! Tapioca and carrageen can be heated directly and only gel when heat is applied. Arrowroot starch, guar gum, and locust bean gum thicken foods both with and without heating. If you are looking for a binding agent that is good for digestion, you can also use psyllium husks. They can easily be stirred into liquids. Coconut milk, for example, becomes firm and makes a delicious filling for pastries or a creamy desserts. One to two tablespoons are usually enough to achieve the desired effect.

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