The Culinary Corner

Sauces: Procedure & emulsification

Roger Joss
Posted 8/6/20

Mixing and blending are very important procedures in culinary. Improper mixing, especially with sauces and puddings, gives very poor results.

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The Culinary Corner

Sauces: Procedure & emulsification


Welcome to my little corner of culinary delights.  Mixing and blending are very important procedures in culinary.  Improper mixing, especially with sauces and puddings, gives very poor results.

In sauce making, your two most important pieces of equipment are the heavy walled saucepot and a sturdy whisk.  The whisk needs to have a “full rubber grip” handle that is comfortable in your hand.  I would suggest purchasing one from a restaurant supply store.  They have to supply the best for restaurant needs or they would not be in business long.  Your closest one is in Bloomington.  They are reasonably priced.  For proper cooking, I feel owning several types of whisks is a must.

Some of your sauces need to be highly agitated if they are to emulsify properly.  Oil and water do not mix.  Emulsification is the process of suspending oil in water.  Mustard and egg yolks are two that work well as an emulsifier.  To aid the emulsification, mechanical methods are necessary.  I will now give examples.

With béchamel sauce, first a paste is made with the oil and flour (roux).  As the hot stock is slowly added, the mixture must be vigorously whipped with a whisk to prevent lumps.  Otherwise, the oily paste will not blend in with the stock properly.  Since the oil is first absorbed by the flour, emulsification is not required.

For making mayonnaise as well as hollandaise sauce, you begin with pasteurized egg yolks.  A little water is added for the mayonnaise and a reduction of vinegar and/or white wine is used for the hollandaise sauces.  Whisk together and continue whisking as you slowly drizzle in the oil. Vegetable oil or olive oil can be used for the mayonnaise.  For hollandaise sauce, only use melted butter fat for your oil.  If the mayonnaise separates, this is called “broken mayonnaise.”  To list what causes it to break will help you to appreciate the intricacies in emulsifying.  Mayonnaise and similarly prepared dressings may break under these conditions: 1) the oil was added too rapidly for the egg yolk to absorb it.  2) The sauce was allowed to become too thick.  3) The sauce became either too cold or too warm as it was being prepared.

Simply put, most anything that requires an oily fluid mixed in with a watery substance necessitates a need to evenly distribute the ingredients.  This is called emulsification.  This would also be for your buttercreams and other similar substances in baking.  This is also needed for vinaigrettes.  As I stated above and will state again, do purchase for yourself several well-made whisks.

You have your French whisks of different lengths made of heavy gauge wire.  There are also piano wire whisks and balloon whisks.  The first two are for general use such as combining ingredients and for emulsifying as described above.  The balloon whisk is made of piano wire but more bulbous.  Its main function is for whipping meringues and whipped cream by hand.

Until next time, peace to all.