Time and time again we as culinarians find ourselves trying to replicate the texture of certain items we find on the store shelves. We can often make sauces and foods that are far superior to what we can buy premade in the grocery store. But there is always something missing that sets the tried and true classics apart from your custom recipe. Let’s use hot sauce for our example as it was the subject of a recent question I received here at Modernist Pantry. A customer of ours has a hot sauce recipe that is gaining some notoriety and he would like to market it to the masses. Unfortunately there are some issues with the sauce that keep it from standing out on the shelf. One issue that you find with any liquid made from produce is that over time it will separate. The solids will sink to the bottom and give the impression that it is spoiled. The second issue especially with mild hot sauces is that they are vinegar based and are too thin. The last thing you want a potential customer to think is that your products is inferior to the rest. So the question here is:
“What can I use to make my hot sauce like the ones you find in the store?”
This is a rather simple answer for this, the most common thickener that is used for this is xanthan gum. Xanthan gum thickens so well and is used in such small quantities that it makes for the most cost effective option. Xanthan gum should be used in a ratio of 0.05-0.35% to the total weight of the recipe.
But this wouldn’t be a proper Ask-A-Chef if I ended it there, There are plenty more options that you could use. For instance perfected guar gum would be ideal for this. Perfected guar gum does away with the beany flavor of traditional guar gum, and it mixes in far easier. Perfected guar gum seems like the best choice because it tolerates high salt content, helps with particle suspension in sauces, and is used in small amounts. Perfected guar gum should be used in a ratio of 0.1-1.5%.
Lastly, If you are make a hot wing sauce and would like it to stick to the wings better you should use a small amount of Methocel A15C in a ratio of 0.25% of the total weight of the recipe. This will not only thicken the sauce slightly it will help the sauce stick to the hot wings!
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