Emulsification In food
Emulsify in cooking means to put two or more liquids together that do not usually mix into one another like oil and vinegar.
The process involves whisking one liquid very slowly into the other.
Why does this emulsification in food happen?
An emulsion is a combination of liquids in which when combined are not soluble with each other.
The substances will not mix or stay mixed with each other without the help of an emulsifier.
Common emulsification in food is found in items from everyday life, for example milk, mayonnaise and vinaigrettes.
These are all relatively unstable without the presence of an emulsifier.
Oil in water emulsions
Oil in water emulsions are common in every day food products, for example –
- Butter –
is an an emulsion of water in butterfat.
- Crema (foam) in espresso –
coffee oil in water (brewed coffee), unstable emulsion.
- Mayonnaise and Hollandaise sauces –
these are oil-in-water emulsions stabilized with egg yolk lecithin, or with other types of food additives, such as sodium stearoyl lactylate.
- Homogenized milk –
an emulsion of milk fat in water, with milk proteins as the emulsifier.
- Vinaigrette –
an emulsion of vegetable oil in vinegar, if this is prepared using only oil and vinegar (i.e., without an emulsifier), an unstable emulsion results.
Examples of food emulsifiers in cooking
Although the egg is one of the most used here is a list of common food emulsifiers used to emulsify in cooking.
- Egg yolk –
in which the main emulsifying agent is lecithin.
- Mustard –
where a variety of chemicals in the mucilage surrounding the seed hull act as emulsifiers.
- Soy lecithin –
is another emulsifier and thickener.
- Pickering stabilization –
uses particles under certain circumstances.
- Sodium phosphates
- Mono and diglycerides –
a common emulsifier found in many food products (coffee creamers, ice-creams, spreads, breads, cakes).
- Sodium stearoyl lactylate
- DATEM (Diacetyl Tartaric (Acid) Ester of Monoglyceride) –
an emulsifier used primarily in baking.
- Simple cellulose –
a particulate emulsifier derived from plant material using only water.
How to Emulsify Oil and Water
If you have a bowl of water and a bowl of oil, and try to mix them together the two liquids will not combine.
The result will be that the oil will just float on top of the water.
It doesn’t matter how hard you stir, whisk or shake, the oil and water will quickly separate again.
If you beat an egg and mix it with the oil and water you will notice the oil and water aren’t separating.
In this water and oil emulsion, the egg is the emulsifier.
How to Emulsify Sauces
The International Culinary Center, founded as The French Culinary Institute, is the world’s leading culinary center for education.
Here Chef Sixto Alonso walks you through emulsifying sauces.
How to Emulsify Oil and Vinegar
Chef Stephen Gibbs of Hands On Gourmet demonstrates how to emulsify oil and vinegar.