Thickening foods

Many foods—sauces, soups, desserts a.o.—require thickening. Thickening keeps flavoring ingredients suspended and improves flavor, texture and looks. Some thickening methods are listed below:

  1. Reducing (simmering down): e.g. tomato sauce, cream-based sauces.

  2. Starches:

    • Roux: flour is cooked in butter / oil before liquid is added.

    • Beurre manié & oil dough: butter or oil are mixed cold with flour and added to a hot liquid.

    • Starchese.g. wheat, rice or corn flour, potato flakes—are dissolved in cold water and then added to hot liquid.

  3. Emulsifiers do the same thing for oily foods.

  4. Food gums are added to hot or cold or hot liquid, e.g. gelatin, pectin, agar, guar,….

  5. Blending / pureeing: solid foods are blended into a sauce/soup.

  6. Absorption:
    Dry ingredients absorb liquid and thicken the liquid, e.g. bread / pasta / tapioca / chia seeds.
    Cooking rice and beans has the same effect.

  7. Stewing: cooking may partially liquefy some solids. (e.g. applesauce)

  8. Eggs / cream:

    1. Emulsions: oils can be emulsified into egg yolks.

    2. Whole eggs, egg yolks and/or egg whites can be used to thicken sauces and soups.

    3. Egg whites and cream can be beaten into a stiff foam that can be used to thicken foods.

  9. Combinations of any of the above.