Emulsification is the process of formulating foam. Thanks to this technique, you can create colourful foams that intensify aromas. Be sure to check out our recipes to put this technique into practice.
What do chocolate, mayonnaise, salad dressing, milk, butter and ice cream have in common? All of them are emulsions! The naked eye can only see a homogeneous product. However, this is not the case under the microscope, where thousands of small droplets dispersed in a second liquid substance can be seen. In each case, two substances that are normally immiscible, oil and water, have been mixed using an emulsifying agent.
An emulsion can also present the above-mentioned products in a different way. For example, a liquid can trap air bubbles and turn it into a foam. In molecular gastronomy, emulsification is the technique used to incorporate and stabilize air bubbles in a liquid mixture. It is possible to incorporate the air bubble into a liquid simply by whisking vigorously. However, this phase is highly unstable and the air escapes in a relatively short time. To avoid this instability, an emulsifier can be incorporated into the solution.
Egg and milk protein, bread starch, gelatin, and cream fat are common emulsifiers that have been used in traditional cuisine for a long time. However, in recent decades, the food industry intensified its research in this field and discovered new emulsifiers such as soy lecithin and methylcellulose. These products are also called surfactants, a word derived from “surface-active agents,” since their molecules act as a barrier (interface) between water and air.
These additives bring great pleasure to molecular gastronomy enthusiasts by reducing the tension between the water and air surface, which stabilizes the air and foam.