Saturday, July 3, 2010
Hydrocolloids- Iota Carrageenan
Iota Carrageenan is a phycocolloid meaning a hydrocolloid that is derived from seaweed. In this case red seaweed. It is one of three Carrageenans, the others being Kappa and Lambda. Some of the main advantages of using Iota as a thickening or a gelling compound is that it yields more elastic or softer gels, as opposed to one of its brothers Kappa that produces more rigid or brittle gels. When constructing formulas using iota it is important to note that it reacts best with the presence of calcium (ie milk, cream, etc). It is also important to note that gels made using iota have the ability to be frozen and then thawed before use. This makes it possible to make a base and to mold it and freeze it or keep it frozen and to take it out before service, thus prolonging the shelf life of the gel. I have found that there is a wide range of ratios in weight of iota:rest of ingredients that you could use depending on what your desired end result will be. You also have to take into consideration the formula you are using; whether or not your using milk instead of cream or other dairy products (fat concentration), are you using an acid in your base, how much sugar are you going to add, how much salt your going to add. There are many factors that will determine the final outcome of your finished product. I have seen and made gels that eat like cooked custards using a ratio of 1K of base:2-3g of iota (.002-.003). I have also used iota in combination with other stabilizers in ice cream formulas. I have found that by using iota in my base it promotes a creamier mouth feel to the finished frozen dessert. When it comes down to it Iota Carrageenan is a very versatile hydrocolloid, with a vast array of uses in a modern kitchen.