An introduction to Gelling, Thickening and Foaming agents

Compounds which can be used in a mixology and cocktails for thickening liquids, creating alcoholic jellies, fluid gels, jams and spheres stabilizing foams and airs and usually different compounds have a various application that’s why it’s important to see them as a one topic and then we gonna take a closer look at each of them separately.

With exception of gelatine all of them come in the powdered form and require to be disperse or completely mixed into liquid. Some may require the use of blender, while for the other gentle stir is enough.  And some of them dissolve only at the certain temperatures.

Each of them has its own characteristics  texture, melting point, alcohol and acid tolerance which can be then applied to a specific use.

Agar-Agar – It can be used to stabilize foams, thicken liquids and is very useful for clarification. It provides more stable jelly then gelatine and can be served warm. High tolerance of acid, salt, alcohol and heat.

Gelatine – It can be added to foams with soft and creamy texture. Tolerant of alcohol up to 30%ABV, intolerant of pH below 5 and high salt content. It requires to be presoaked  in cold water before adding to a warm solution which is prepared to be jellified.

Gellan – Available in two kinds Low-Acyl and High-Acyl. Difference is in melting point for low-acyl 100°C, often used for production of ice cream to slow down melting. High-acyl lower melting point of around 75°C. Gellan gum can be used in low concentrations to form excellent, heat stable fluid gels.

Gum Arabic – Used as an emulsifier in the manufacture of soft drinks due to ability to suspend oil particles into liquid.

Methyl-Cellulose – Acts in the opposite way as gelatine. It remains jellified when hot and melts when cooled. It’s typically firstly mixed with a cold liquid and then once heated above 50°C it will begin to form a jelly.

Sodium Alginate – Only forms jellies in the presence of calcium.  It’s used for spherification in creation of edible balls(smaller caviar) filled with liquid. Tolerance to 30%ABV. Won’t gel below pH4. Sugar helps gelling.

Xantham Gum – It’s a thickening agent used to turn liquid into a paste-like form, make alcoholic jams, stabilize ice creams. Highly tolerant to alcohol, extreme pH, salt.

Pectin – It’s a gelling agent used a lot in the production of jams and jellies. Good as well for clarification of liquids.

Lecthin – It’s a foam stabilizer used in production of airs in conjunction with a frother. Tolerant to high acidity and creates big bubbles.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.