Hydrocolloid recipe collection

I’m happy to finally announce the first edition of a recipe collection devoted mainly to hydrocolloids. Totaling 111 recipes, it’s available for download as a pdf file (29 pages, 433 kB).

Update: The collection has been revised and is now available for download (more than 220 recipe, 73 pages, 1.8 Mb).

The following text is from the introduction I’ve written to the recipe collection:

A hydrocolloid can simply be defined as a substance that forms a gel in contact with water. Such substances include both polysaccharides and proteins which are capable of one or more of the following: thickening and gelling aqueous solutions, stabilizing foams, emulsions and dispersions and preventing crystallization of saturated water or sugar solutions.

In the recent years there has been a tremendous interest in molecular gastronomy. Part of this interest has been directed towards the “new” hydrocolloids. The term “new” includes hydrocolloids such as xanthan which is a result of relatively recent research, but also hydrocolloids such as agar which has been unknown in western cooking, but used in Asia for decades. One fortunate consequence of the increased interest in molecular gastronomy and hydrocolloids is that hydrocolloids that were previously only available to the food industry have become available in small quantities at a reasonable price. A less fortunate consequence however is that many have come to regard molecular gastronomy as synonymous with the use of hydrocolloids to prepare foams and spheres. I should therefore emphasize that molecular gastronomy is not limited to the use of hydrocolloids and that it is not the intention of this collection of recipes to define molecular gastronomy.

One major challenge (at least for an amateur cook) is to find recipes and directions to utilize the “new” hydrocolloids. When purchasing hydrocolloids, typically only a few recipes are included. Personally I like to browse several recipes to get an idea of the different possibilities when cooking. Therefore I have collected more than 100 recipes which utilize hydrocolloids ranging from agar to xanthan. In addition to these some recipes with lecithin (not technically a hydrocolloid) have been included. Recipes for espumas that do not call for addition of gelatin or other thickening agents have also been included for completeness.
All recipes have been changed to SI units which are the ones preferred by the scientific community (and hopefully soon by the cooks as well). As far as possible, brand names have been replaced by generic names. Most of the recipes have been edited and some have been shortened significantly. In some recipes, obvious mistakes have been corrected. But unfortunately, the recipes have not been tested, so there is no guarantee that they actually work as intended and that the directions are complete, accurate and correct. The recipes have been collected from various printed and electronic sources and every attempt has been made to give the source of the recipes.

Since recipes can neither be patented nor copyrighted, every reader should feel free to download, print, use, modify, distribute and further develop the recipes contained in this compilation. The latest version will be available for download from https://khymos.org/recipe-collection.php and will also be announced at http://blog.khymos.org. Feedback, comments, corrections and new recipes are welcome at recipe.at.khymos.dot.org.

Martin Lersch
Oslo, August 2007


  1. Any chance you could list suppliers for all the ingredients worldwide? I’m trying hard to find some of them in the UK as a non-professional

  2. Tim: I’ve listed a number of suppliers at https://khymos.org/suppliers.php, but I’m not able to keep track of all suppliers. I’d suggest you google with “site:uk” + one of the brand names: Sosa, Texturas, texturePro etc.

    Dennis/Orges: Yes, I commented on lecithin in the introduction. I included maltodextrin since it is a polysaccharide and several recipes call for it. I haven’t used maltodextrin myself yet, so I don’t know much about it’s properties in contact with water.

  3. An interesting update on supplies (UK based, but probably applies elsewhere)

    – Agar can be found in most large healthfood stores as a gelatine alternative.
    – Xanthan can be found in some supermarkets as a flour additive when gluten free flour is used (e.g. rice flour). Its also available in health food stores
    – A combination of Carrageenan and Maltodextrin powder (with a few other ingredients) can be found in VegeGel by Superfoods at most supermarkets. Its a vegetarian gelatine alternative
    – Lecithin can be found in healthfood stores as a dietary supplement to aid fat digestion. It comes in a variety of forms, I’d suggest the granules and grind them to a finer powder yourself. Avoid the gel or liquid forms and make sure you are buying the pure variety and not mixed with chalk or other additives
    – Pectin can be found in supermarkets for jam making, and if hard to find can often be found pre added to sugar which may be suitable

    Other ingredients not listed in the recipe collection I’ve come across are Arrowroot and Kudzu which both thicken / gel and may be of interest for experimentation.

    FOr reference, my supplies came from Tesco and Real Foods in Edinburgh

  4. Hi Martin,

    Thanks for the thoughtful comment on richcooks.blogspot.com. I was wondering if you’d heard of bois de panama or quillaia. I was perusing the Oxford Companion to Food and stumbled upon it. It has apparently been used to create stable, neutral-tasting foams for ages, and is a widely used food additive. I’ve never been able to find it, even in the New York stores that stock the most obscure spices (Kalyustan’s and Dual Quality Products). Is this stuff used in this hydrocolloidal process ever?


  5. I’ll add another source for Maltodextrin. It’s stocked by most brewing shops as it adds sweetness to beer and improves body and head retention (its unfermentable)

  6. Hi I came across this page while researching. I work at a leading carrageenan manufacturing and export company, not as a sales person though, but thought I could share some useful information here. To those looking for carrageenan products and blends, we offer a wide range of products for various applications. You can visit the website at http://www.rico.com.ph or contact our sales department at sales@rico.com.ph. Ciao!

  7. I am from Penang, Malaysia. Thank you so much for taking your time to compile all this recipes. Good Job. keep me posted if you have more

  8. Thank you Martin, this is a great job, both the blog and the recipe collection. i found this site, surfing the net for molecular gastronomy and related info. I´m a Costa Rican but i live in México, and unfortunetly there´s not that much info in spanish. I starting to experiment with a lot of the things you post in the blog, as a guide.
    Thank you again for your work time and passion.

  9. Hi Martin,
    I want to thank you for having such a fun web site.I am in the 7th grade,and my school is having a science fair,I read the New York Times article on hydrocolloids,its was interesting since alot of the science projects are borring,I was interested in making fruit caviar .My mother bought me the ingredients,she helped me until I learned to make it myself. I made fruit caviar for my science experiment the class loved it ,it was something different. I had to talk about the ingredient,and the chemical reaction,and how some of these ingredients are in some of the every foods we eat.I was selected to go to go to the science fair on April 30 , 2008 .I will write back ,thank you for all the helpfull information.
    I was selected to go to my school science fair on April 30,2008 I will write back with a follow up. thanks

  10. Hi martin ,
    I am in the 7th grade ,I came across a New York Times article on hydrocolloids it was very interesting.My school is having a science on April 30,2008. I did alot of research on hydrocolloids,bought the ingredients and practice making fruit caviar, my mother helped me until learned to make them myself.It was expensive but fun .I made fruit caviar in my science class,the teacher and class mates love it,and I was selected to go to the science fair.I will have to talk about the ingredients,chemical reaction,and how these ingredients are used in the every foods we eat, and use at home. thank you for the help I got from your site.I will write back.

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