There are a number of modern culinary techniques that still baffle a lot of chefs and cooks alike. We still get a large amount of people who are new to these techniques. it’s hard to wrap your head around things like culinary foams, spherification, and even powders. Powders are possibly the easiest technique that anyone can do. But, of course if you use the wrong ingredients you end up with tasty wallpaper paste. So how exactly do you make an edible culinary powder? But most importantly what do you do with these powders once they have been made?
“How do you make culinary powders?”
So this is a simple technique. It requires an ingredient called N-Zorbit M. N-Zorbit M is an ingredient that is a type of tapioca maltodextrin. Tapioca maltodextrin comes in many different forms and most of them are used as sweeteners. But with N-Zorbit M and the ratios I’m about to lay out, they can be used to turn any fat into a powder. But that’s the thing, I said fat. This will not turn any liquid into powder. When water based liquids are added to N-zorbit M it will create a putty like texture that is not pleasant to eat. But when 60% fat, and 40% N-Zorbit M is mixed it easily creates a powder. Now if you are using something like peanut butter or nutella, we suggest pulsing them in a food processor to create the powder. After passing it through a fine mesh strainer you have a powder ready to use for any dish you choose.
But how does this work? How does N-Zorbit M make an oil into a powder but not water? It’s actually very simple, solubility. N-Zorbit M just doesn’t dissolve into oil. It will attach to it and soak it up but it will not dissolve. As for water N-Zorbit M is extremely water soluble. The moment a powder made of N-Zorbit M touches your tongue it will melt away and leave you with the flavor of the fat. N-Zorbit M seems to disappear when it is eaten. This is what makes it so interesting.
But what about powders that are not fat based? Most of the time something that is water based will need to be freeze dried, drum dried, spray dried, or dehydrated. Most of these other than dehydrating are not possible in most kitchens. You can dehydrate just about anything that contains water. But you will need to be mindful of high sugar content or fat content. These factors can really cause issues when dehydrating. A full dehydration Ask-A-Chef coming soon. But let’s say you play all your cards right and have a perfectly dehydrated food. Lets say dill pickles for this example. The way you would need to attempt to make a dill pickle powder would be to place it in a spice grinder and blend it until it is a fine powder. This may take a few passes through a fine sieve but you would be able to make a powder out of something that is water based. It’s also a lot more work, so I would suggest sticking with fat based powders.
Then finally what do you do with an edible powder? We highly doubt that anyone would snuggle up with a big bowl of edible powder and go to town on it. So what is there to do? More often than not an edible powder will be used as a garnish. A light sprinkle of extra virgin olive oil powder on a salad or nutella powder on a dessert. A powder is there to add intrigue to a dish and also add visual texture. Also one last thing would be additions to the powder. You can add anything you want to the powder as long as it is not water based. Ingredients like powdered sugar, salt, or other dry ingredients can be added. One of our recipes even includes our version of unflavored pop rocks! So give a few of our recipes a try, you can find them listed below.
Ready to get Cooking?
Culinary Crystal Crumble: Toasty, nutty, sweet and crackling – It’s the taste of sitting by a warm fire in a quaint English countryside cottage.
Chili Oil Powder: One of our all time favorite dishes was at Chicago’s Lao Sze Chuan, a classic restaurant that serves up hella ma la and more. Their Famous Empress Crab with Dry Chili – Dungeness crab covered in mind- and mouth-numbing peppercorns – continues to beckon for a return visit. In the meantime, we’ve dreamt up our own Szechuan Chili Oil Powder, infusing the hot layered flavors of the peppercorns into a neutral oil and turning it into aromatic atomic snow. Sprinkle this bold orange powder lightly or liberally onto any dish to call to mind your favorite spicy plate.