(HPMC, Hydroxypropyl Methylcellulose or Cellulose Gum)
Methylcellulose is a chemical derivative of cellulose; cellulose being the 'bones' or structural cells of all living plants. Commercially; it is utilised as a versatile food stabiliser that can control moisture movement during cooking, help maintain the shape of a product at high temperatures & reduce oil uptake when frying (i.e. when added to breaded/battered products).
HPMC has varied applications: it can coat, thicken, stabilize, gel, suspend, bind, form flexible or brittle films, carry flavours, reduce syneresis (weeping), create foams and improve texture. It is unique among hydrocolloids in that it forms thermal-reversible gels; i.e. it gels when heated and reverts back to its original state when cooled. In the modern kitchen this characteristic is employed to create surprising combinations of temperature and texture such as hot ice cream, which will melt on cooling, the stabilization of hot liquids (i.e. a panko breadcrumb coated hot fried béarnaise) or the at table production of “instant noodles”; produced when a solution containing MC is piped into a soup or broth. In more traditional uses MC will bind the moisture in a flan filling when baking helping to ensuring a crisp pastry base & keep the liquids in a baking pie stable when cooking thus preventing boil out.
Within all these applications MC delivers great versatility: it is soluble in cold liquids (though it can be introduced in hot liquids and agitated when cool), its viscosity is stable over a wide PH range of 2-13, it has a high tolerance for salt and sugar and it can be combined with alcohol or oil. MC is colourless, odourless, and tasteless
MC is categorized as a food gum because it is a non-starch carbohydrate polymer. MC behaves like starch in the way that it thickens and stabilizes, but does so using much smaller amounts, it is non-caloric, non-allergenic, kosher, halal, and vegan.
There are several types of Methylcellulose, (A,E,F & K) and also variations within each type . Type A are Methylcellulose (MC) while types EF&K are Hydroxypropyl Methylcellulose (HPMC). In use each type will give differences in viscosity, the temperature of geling & the strength of the gel formed. F50 will gel at between 62-68°C & produce a semi-firm gel.
To use blend Methylcellulose powder thoroughly into cold liquids & leave to rest & hydrate in the refrigerator until it reaches 4°C.
Base Recipe Formulations:
Cold Stable Foam
100ml Base liquid (broth, juice etc..)
1g – 1.5g MCF50 powder (1-1.5%)
Blend powder with selected liquid & chill overnight.
Foam in a N20 charged siphon or whisk.
Creates long lasting & very stable foams (ideal for function plating).
Basic Hot Melting Gel
100ml Base liquid (broth, juice etc.)
2g MCF50 powder (2%)
Blend powder with selected liquid & chill overnight.
Heat liquid in a water bath or microwave to set.
Serve hot, the gel will melt as it cools.
Hot Ice Cream Method
Savoury or sweet ice cream or sorbet base recipe of choice blended with 1.5% MCF50 by weight & chilled overnight for complete hydration.
To serve: Fill a preheated ice cream scoop with the ice cream base & gently turn out into hot water to poach. Remove from the hot liquid when set & drain on paper towels before serving. As the mixture cools the “ice” cream will melt.
Basic Instant Noodle Mix
400ml flavoured liquid
30ml oil\flavoured oil
15g MCF50 (3.4%)
Salt to taste.
Blend MCF50 powder with selected liquid.
Add the oil & salt (on low speed to avoid aeration) & chill overnight.
Fill a syringe or squeezy bottle with the noodle base & inject\pipe into a second hot liquid to form noodles.
When whipped MCF50 behaves much like egg white & can be baked into soufflés, & meringues either sweet or savoury as below.
Savoury Beetroot Meringues (with Goats Cheese & Crab Apple Jelly).
125g beetroot essence
4g MCF50 powder
Blend together beetroot essence & MCF50 powder with a stick blender, chill to below 4°C for complete hydration. Pour into a mixer & whisk on high speed for 8-10 minutes to form stiff peaks.
Transfer to a piping bag & pipe small rounds on to a silicone mat.
Dehydrate the meringues at 55°C for 5-8hrs (depending on size) until dried, light & crispy.
Store in an airtight container until required.
To serve carefully poke a small hole in the base of the meringue & fill with a little creamed goats cheese & sharp crab apple jelly.
A basic MC meringue mix can be naturally flavoured as desired:
Rhubarb Meringue mix
6g MCF50 powder
60g caster sugar
1g citric acid
6ml natural rhubarb flavour drop
Blend together the water & methylcellulose powder with a stick blender & chill to below 4°C for complete hydration. Transfer to a mixer, add the sugar, salt, citric acid & flavour drop & whisk on high speed for 8-10 minutes to form stiff peaks.
Soft Toasted Mallow
This mix is lighter than a conventional marshmallow & has a soft whipped consistency.
1.5g MCF50 powder
1.5g xanthan gum
300-375g icing sugar
Pinch of salt
Flavour drop of choice
Blend together the water, MCF50 powder & xanthan with a stick blender & chill to below 4°C for complete hydration. Transfer to a mixer; add the selected flavour drop & whisk until beginning to form soft peaks.
Gradually add the sugar & continue whipping until very stiff.
The mallow can then be scooped & toasted with a blow lamp or baked for 8-10 minutes at 150°C until firm.
Note that if baked the mallow will melt again as it cools.