Understanding emulsions in foods

August 20, 2013

An emulsion is a mixture of two fluids such as oil and water that is achieved by breaking up the molecules in both substances into very fine, small droplets in order to keep the combination from separating. In the August issue of Food Technology magazine published by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) Contributing Editor, J. Peter Clark breaks down what emulsifiers are and how they are used in familiar foods.

There are several common foods that are considered emulsions: milk, , ice cream, mayonnaise, , sausages, and sauces like béarnaise and hollandaise. When packaged and manufactured on a larger scale, most of these foods need emulsifiers to stabilize the mixture and keep the different ingredients from becoming separated. Lecithin is a common emulsifier that is naturally found in soy oil. Egg yolks are another example of an emulsifier; they contain and cholesterol, which makes them a great binder for sauces like mayonnaise.

The way emulsifiers work is by coating the molecules of a certain fluid, making it easier to mix with the other ingredients, and also keeping the mixture together over a longer period of time without separating. In the kitchen this can be achieved by vigorous beating or whisking, or using a hand mixer. Using an emulsifier correctly in a sauce or mixture requires adding the ingredients in the proper order, and often at a specific temperature.

Other common emulsifiers in foods include proteins, gums, and various . The same elements that are often good emulsifiers also are used in other ways in foods, such as keeping bread from going stale, reducing the amount of cocoa butter in chocolate which also reduces calories, and can help cakes stick less to the side of the pan.

Read the full Food Technology article here.

Explore further: Emulsion with a round-trip ticket

Related Stories

Emulsion with a round-trip ticket

June 14, 2007

Oil and water are not miscible. However, it is possible to combine both into an emulsion in which they act as a unit—for example, in creams, body lotion, milk, or mayonnaise. In these substances, one of the two liquids ...

Top 15 chemical additives in your food

January 19, 2010

We don't just want our food to taste good these days: It also has to look good. As a result, food producers use any of 14,000 laboratory-made additives to make our food appear fresher, more attractive or last longer on the ...

When the fat comes out of food, what goes in?

November 2, 2011

When fat, sugar and gluten come out of salad dressings, sauces, cookies, beverages, and other foods with the new genre of package labels shouting what's not there, what goes into "light" or "-free" versions of products to ...

Recommended for you

Findings illuminate animal evolution in protein function

July 27, 2015

Virginia Commonwealth University and University of Richmond researchers recently teamed up to explore the inner workings of cells and shed light on the 400–600 million years of evolution between humans and early animals ...

New polymer able to store energy at higher temperatures

July 30, 2015

(Phys.org)—A team of researchers at the Pennsylvania State University has created a new polymer that is able to store energy at higher temperatures than conventional polymers without breaking down. In their paper published ...

How to look for a few good catalysts

July 30, 2015

Two key physical phenomena take place at the surfaces of materials: catalysis and wetting. A catalyst enhances the rate of chemical reactions; wetting refers to how liquids spread across a surface.

Yarn from slaughterhouse waste

July 29, 2015

ETH researchers have developed a yarn from ordinary gelatine that has good qualities similar to those of merino wool fibers. Now they are working on making the yarn even more water resistant.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.