When I searched for a comprehensive list of dosage-recommendations for my most important molecular ingredients, I was disappointed to find nothing proper on the web.
Based on my experience, I created my own. I listed only ingredients that I use myself, the most important being Agar Agar, Xanthan Gum and Lecithin (in that order). The rest… well, I have them, but I don’t use them that often. One of them. Methyl Cellulose, I don’t use at all anymore. Basically this is wallpaper glue. Also, it’s used in the adult film-industry for fake… oh well, I leave this to your imagination. But whatever, it’s something I don’t want in my food. I have listed it because many recipes still contain it. But if possible, you should refrain from using it.
The quantities shown here are always min. -> max. What within this range is right for whatever you’re doing depends on several factors, e.g. how much acid your liquid contains, whether it contains alcohol, etc. It may take a few tries to achieve a satisfactory result. My approach is to start in the middle and then go up or down, depending on whether the result is too hard or too soft.
Please note that some of these additives can have side-effects. Even though they have been tested to be fit for human consumption (shown by the ‘E’-Number), the tests were done with certain maximum quantities. You should keep the quantities you use as low as possible, even if you should find recipes that require high quantities. I’ve found recipes that go way above the maximum permitted quantity for industrially produced food. If in doubt, rather don’t do it. Sticking to the max. quantities shown in the list above should keep you on the safe side but in case of doubt, please check.
(Unpaid Advertising) Molecular cuisine relies heavily on additives, some of which are vegan and actually quite helpful, while others… I’ll never understand why people put some of this stuff into their food.
There are of course a lot more than listed here, but these are the ones I regard as most important (as I use them a lot). Others may have a different opinion but that doesn’t mean they’re right and I’m wrong. 🙂
I don’t list them alphabetically here, but rather in the order of their importance for my own cooking. For a quick overview on the dosage, please check here: Molecular’s Little Helpers: Dosage
Agar Agar (E406): Used for Gelification. Agar Agar is believed to have been discovered in Japan in the mid 17th century. It’s obtained from Red Marine Algae, making it a vegan alternative to Gelatine. Besides Gelification, it’s also used as a laxative and an appetite suppressant, depending on the dosage. If you stick to the dosage recommended below you should be on the safe side though. Overdosing in a recipe will cause your product to have a rubbery, hard texture. For gelification, Agar Agar is my favourite additive. Dosage: approx. 0,3g – 1g/100g
Xanthan Gum (E415): Used for Emulsification. Xanthan Gum was discovered in the early 1960s and was approved for use in foods in 1968. It’s produced by fermentation of sugar. The name is derived from the bacteria used in the fermentation process, called Xanthomonas Campestris. Xanthan Gum increases the viscosity of a liquid. It can also be used to make foams. Many gluten-free products contain Xanthan, as it gives products the stickiness which normally comes from Gluten. High doses of Xanthan work as a laxative (approx. 15g/day). Sticking to the recommended dosage will keep you well below this number. Dosage: approx. 0,3g – 0,5g/100g
Lecithin (E322): Used for Emulsification. Lecithin, as we use it in cooking, is a mixture of phospholipids in oil. The major source of lecithin is soybean-oil. Genetically modified crops may be used here but they aren’t detectable in the end-product. Therefore you can never be certain that your product is GM-free. I use it mainly for creating foams. Dosage: approx. 0,3g – 0,6g/100g
Calcium Lactate (E327): Used for Spherification and Reverse Spherification. Calcium Lactate is produced by the reaction of lactic acid with either Calcium Hydroxide or Calcium Carbonate. It reacts with Sodium Aginate, forming a skin around a sphere, therefore in Molecular Cuisine both are normally used together. Dosage: approx. 5g-7g/1l Water (Spherification), 1g/100g (Reverse Spherification).
Sodium Alginate (E400): Used for Spherification and Reverse Spherification. Sodium Alginate is refined from Brown Seaweed. It reacts with Calcium Lactate, forming a skin around a sphere, therefore in Molecular Cuisine both are normally used together. Dosage: approx. 5g/1l Water (Spherification), 0,5-1g/100g (Reverse Spherification).
Gellan Gum (E418): Used for Gelification. Gellan Gum is produced by the bacterium Sphingomonas Elodea. This bacterium was discovered in the US in 1978. Other than Agar Agar, gels made with Gellan Gum are heat-resistant up to 70 Degrees Celsius, therefore I use it mainly for creating hot gels. Dosage: approx. 0,6g – 1g/100g
Carrageenan Kappa (E407): Used for Gelification. Carrageenan Kappa is derived from Red Edible Seaweed. This is one of the oldest additives we know, as it was used in China as far back as 600 B.C. Carrageenan won’t dissolve in cold water, therefore water must first be heated to at least 60 Degrees Celsius before adding it. I don’t really use it a lot as I find that I can use Agar Agar in the majority of cases where I want to create a gel. Dosage: approx. 0,6g – 1,2g/100g
Methyl Cellulose (E461): Used for Gelification. I only list this additive because it appears in some recipes I have found. I don’t recommend using it! Methy Cellulose is produced by heating cellulose with a caustic solution and adding Methyl Chloride. Methyl Cellulose has one distinctive property that makes it special: it sets when hot and it melts when cold. This is the one additive I don’t ever use. I have some which I purchased for testing but I don’t prepare food with it. Methyl Cellulose is also used as wallpaper-glue. Who wants to eat glue? Another use is in the Adult Movie Industry where it’s used as fake… I leave this to your imagination. With the pictures you have in your head now, do you really want that stuff in your mouth? 😉 Neither do I. Plus I wouldn’t know why I’d need a hot gel that melts when it cools down. Dosage: approx. 3g/100g
(Unpaid Advertising) Whatever you do in the kitchen, get yourself at least one good knife. If possible, get yourself even more. A good knife doesn’t necessarily cost a fortune but it’s an advantage if you have money to spare. Personally, I prefer Japanese knives. After some checking around, I got to know Miyabi knives. These aren’t the cheapest but I’m impressed by the quality.
If you can’t or don’t want to spend too much money on knives but still want decent quality, there are quite a few sufficient knives out there. Going with good German brands from Solingen (which has been the centre of German’s knife-making industry for a few centuries), you can’t do anything wrong.
As you can see in the photo, I have several different knives which I use on a regular basis. The top one is a bread-knife, I guess I don’t need to explain what I need that for. The one below that is a Sujihiki. I use it mainly to fillet fish. The middle one is a Santoku. I use this to cut large vegetables, even pumpkins. Next comes a Gyutoh which I use to cut meat. Finally, the small one, called Shotoh, is for all those other kitchen tasks like peeling potatoes, etc.
I like these Miyabi-knives because they are really, really sharp and they stay sharp for a very long time if you treat them right. They are sharpened on both sides of the blade with the traditional Japanese Honbazuke honing.
My knives are symmetrical, i.e. honed on both sides of the blade. Traditional Japanese cooking requires asymmetrical blades which means that these are honed on one side only. As I don’t do that much Japanese cooking except for the occasional Sushi, I prefer the symmetrical blades.
If you want to know more about Miyabi-knives and gather more knowledge on knives as a whole, check out their website. It’s really worth reading: