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Playing Around with Powders….

I know that I have not talked about the Chemistry class that I am taking this Mod, but truth be told we really only just had our first class last Wednesday night. Now I do have something fun to talk about and that has to do with how to create powders! This is what I was really looking forward to when I started the Chemistry class. I have always wanted to know how to go about making fun things out of food. In the culinary world what I am doing is a very basic type of Molecular Gastronomy but it’s still fun. What I didn’t know was how easy it really is to make a powder, and I will show you all how easy it is right here in this post! If you can find Maltodextrin  you can also make your own powders at home and use them for anything from garnishes to an ingredient themselves. I have made two powders so far one in class and one outside of class as my own little experiment. The one I made in class was of a spice rub infused oil that we used on a steak that was cooked using Sous Vide (cooking using a vacuum).

***I have talked about Sous Vide before in other post back in year one but a quick refresher: Sous Vide is where you vacuum pack the food item wanting to be cooked by itself or with flavorings (think herbs, butter, or marinade). The vacuum bags of food are placed in a water bath that has a circulate that keeps the water moving around and at a set temperature. When the vacuum bags of food go into the water bath, they will cook to the temperature of the water but not go any higher or lower than the waters temperature, effectively cooking the item in its own juice without the use of extra fat.***

Lets jump right in on how to make the powders and to do this we are going to need a fat. This can be any type of fat that you want to use, butter, olive oil, bacon fat, lard ect., ect. This is because Maltodextrin dissolves in water but will absorb fats and keep them suspended in a powder form. Now I can’t tell you how much Maltodextrin you are going to need to use because each type of fat, or if you have mixed the fat with something else, that could also take more or less maltodextrin than if the fat was just by itself. This is an example of what the end product is going to look like when it is all done.pretty right? The really cool part is that if you take the powder and put it on your tongue it will turn back into the oil or fat instantly and you will be able to taste what ever it was that you turned into the powder. The good news with this is that maltodextrin has almost no flavor of its own so you don’t have to worry about it changing the taste of whatever you used to make it. Lets get onto the really fun part, making a powder!! I am going to walk you all through making bacon powder, so let’s begin….

First you have to get the fat you want to work with and to do this you must render or cook your bacon. If you are going to use an oil and you want it to be something other than olive oil for example you must infuse the oil with the flavors you want. This is really easy; all you need to do is toss all of the ingredients you want to use into a pot and bring the oil up to a simmer to extract the flavors from the ingredients.  NOTE* you will want to work with room temp oil or fat as if you try to mix it by hand to start out with and it’s hot you will burn yourself*

After you have cooked your bacon down or infused your oil you would let it cool to room temp and start adding in your maltodextrin (I got mine from Terra Herbs& Spices) you will see that I am using the same pan that I cooked the bacon in to mix the bacon fat and maltodextrin, you don’t have to do this but why dirty more than one pan? When you first start to add the maltodextrin it will great a slurry and at this point you can use a spoon and mix it together. You will want to add the maltodextrin a little bit at a time and be careful not to “toss” it in as maltodextrin is very light and you will just get a cloud of it all over the place, think of what happens when you turn a mixer on with a bunch of flour in a bowl…

it will move on from the slurry point pretty fast and any more mixing with a spoon at this point wont do any good so that just means it’s time to get your hands dirty. See why I said it needs to be room temp now? As you mix you are going to want to break up the clumps that form because the clumps are holding un-powdered fat. Keep adding handfuls of maltodextrin and breaking up the  clumps that are going to form. You will see it powder more and more over time.

Soon you will start to feel it become more like a moist sand and this is how you know you are getting very close to the end. 

When it goes from being moist sand it will start to look like fresh powdered snow. That’s it you are all done! the only thing left to do is to store it in the container of your choice but please, Please, PLEASE use a dry container because if you don’t the moisture in the container will start to turn your nice powder back into fat/oil. If you store it covered and in a  cool dry place it will last indefinitely.

I know a lot of you are probably thinking that you would never need or want to have a powder sitting around because you wouldn’t know what to do with it after you made one, well here are a few ideas for uses. You could dust it over fried foods at the end of cooking along with salt to add an extra surprise kick of flavor. You could use it in a salad, or to garnish meats and fish right before they get served. I know that bacon powder on top of french fries is just wonderful! If you are more looking for a dessert idea you could make a fruit infused oil and dust it around the plate instead of powdered sugar. You also don’t have to use it with just the normal fats and oils. You can use it with peanut oil, or even chocolate! It will not always be a white powder. In the case of the spice rub powder I made it had a slight red tint to it because the oil I infused was red. Also things like chocolate and peanut butter are going to turn it a tan-ish color. However when you are done you are going to have a powder that is going to trick and fool your friends, family, and guest but in a fun and flavorful way.

One last note is that you don’t need to use very much fat to make a lot of powder. I maybe started out with 1/2 a cup of bacon fat and when all was said and done I was left with about a quart and a half of bacon powder. Enjoy your powders Chef Fan’s!

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3 Comments on “Playing Around with Powders….”

  1. Tori January 23, 2012 at 1:08 pm #

    That bacon powder is awesome! And it was so fun to watch you/help you make it. I didn’t realize it was so easy. We need to make some french fries so we can put it on top. 🙂

  2. leaf52 January 24, 2012 at 6:09 pm #

    Not sure this is something I would ever do but it looks like you are having fun!

  3. creklover January 29, 2012 at 10:48 am #

    make sure that the bacon powder doesn’t get in the wrong hands, someone might confuse it for something drug-like and snort it. Not sure it would be too good for the brain.

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