Knowledge Base

Lecithin

When you first start cooking, you’ll be faced with several challenges along the way. One such difficulty you’ll face is the non-capability of water and oil to be mixed, but emulsifiers are available that help in mixing these two opposites.

What is Lecithin?
Emulsifiers are used to help other ingredients mix more easily and remain mixed. Lecithin is used in commercial baking to improve doughs and batters of bread and other baked goods. This soy-based emulsifier can also help breads from staling and can be used in sweet or savoury dishes to form stable foams.

A combination of several naturally occurring phospholipids, lecithin is extracted during soybean oil processing. First, the soybeans are kept at a consistent temperature and moisture level for 7-10 days to be tempered so they can hydrate and loosen the hull. Next, the soybeans are cleaned and cracked into smaller pieces, and the hulls are then separated from the cracked brans. The soybeans are then heated and pressed into flakes after which the oil is extracted from the flakes through a distillation process. Finally, the lecithin is separated from the oil with the help of addition of water and centrifugation.

Using Lecithin in Cooking
In baking, lecithin can simply be added to the dough or batter to introduce air and get a better texture of the bread. Likewise, the product is easy to use in sweet and savoury recipes to form foams. In can be blended into a liquid at any temperature, and whisked to get the desired ‘air’ effect.

These foams can heighten the visual appeal of the dish where they’re added, but cooks must make sure to use strong flavoured liquids like balsamic vinegar or concentrated purees for the flavour to come through.

Lecithin foams can be created with a blender or whisk to incorporate the lecithin. Chefs typically use 0.25% to 1.0% ratio by weight, but as always it depends on the results you are looking for.

Remember to introduce the air only a few minutes before serving as this will help make the foam look more stable. It should only take a few seconds for the mixture to foam with a hand blender.

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