Thursday, March 4, 2010

Aroma Molecules and Solubility

Chef and I were talking last night about the possibility of unsaturated fats "absorbing" flavors better than saturated fats. I realized then that I don't actually know much about the chemical properties of aroma molecules and how they dissolve into water, oil, alcohol, or whatever. Reading McGee this morning, I learned that the different aroma molecule families have different characteristic structures, but they tend to be more similar to triglycerides, and so they are more soluble in fats than in water, although the family with the characteristic aromas of cinnamon and clove have an OH group that is similar to water, which is why those flavors last so long on the palate. I need to do some more digging and figure out the exact mechanist of these compounds dissolving into solutions of various things. Once again frustrated by my lack of chemistry knowledge, but happy that the information is so easy to access.

Hydrocolloid Experiments

I've been doing a bunch of gel experiments lately, and I want to get my conclusions down before I forget them.

Whipped Gelatin foam: for powdered, 1% seems like a good concentration, though the resulting gel is quite fragile. About 2 or 2.5 sheets (gold I think) for a quart of sorbet base did well at work - much stiffer than the 1% powdered, but the mouthfeel was excellent. Whipping when the gel is more firmly gelled seemed to give larger bubbles and a more aggressive bubbly mouthfeel. Almost carbonated-seeming at times.

Agar: .5% worked well for a soft gel that melts quickly in the mouth. I had to add water to readjust the concentration before chilling because so much water evaporated during the hydration and dissolution process. Made a fluid gel around 1%. No structure without added starch, felt almost like water on the palate. A higher concentration lasted too long in the mouth in an unattractive way. A little added starch (Ultratex 8) gave an ok sauce-like mouthfeel and slightly more structure on the plate, but might change flavor release at a higher concentration.

Pine Mouth

I have Pine Mouth and it is terrible. Everything tastes bitter and horrible. The sensation started yesterday morning with a bowl of homemade yogurt, and I almost threw the whole batch of yogurt out, thinking it was contaminated. Nope, just Pine Mouth. I made a pretty delicious-seeming lunch of sauteed sweet potato gnocchi and vegetables, but I threw half of it away because it tasted so bitter. The annoyance became a serious problem at work, because cooking things that taste good is hard to do when EVERYTHING TASTES TERRIBLE.

I hope it will be over soon. Fuck you again, China.

On the bright side, the butter & brown sugar candied pine nuts that I got Pine Mouth from were pretty delicious.