What if you could make a gel that remained solid at higher heat. By high heat I mean between the range of 50 – 70 degrees Celsius. About the temperatures you would serve hot soup.
We used to have a gum blend that was meant to replace gelatin. We coded it as blend 6455. I then found this type of kappa that was strangely elastic. I mixed that kappa with 6455 and the result was the FlexiGel blend. The great thing about this gel is that it seems fairly multi-purpose and forms quite strong gels.
Here are the coconut gels (Those white, tofu-like cubes) from yesterday in a lobster bisque As you can see from the thermometer, the temperature of the bisque is at 58 Celsius but the gels remain solid and show no signs of melting. Though, there is a negative effect of high heat gels, and that is lower flavour release.
Yes, I did some amateur editing to brighten the image of the thermometer.
Rules of thumb with Gels: The stronger the gel, the lower the flavour release. This is because the gel system holds on to the flavour compounds more. Loose liquid (ie soups and juices) will always have stronger, more instant flavour release. Also, the higher the heat stability of the gel, again the lower the flavour release. This is because the gel system does not melt on your palate. One reason why I still like using gelatin is because its melting point is very low and dissolves on the palate.
Food for thought: One way gelling is being used by chefs is by changing the flavour release from powerful and instant, to subtle but lingering. By holding the flavour as a gel, you are able to maintain that flavour throughout the entire bite. For example if you have an amuse on a spoon that had a liquod component, a piece of protein like prawn, and garnishes, what you would experience is first the intense flavour of the liquod component, and then gradually the prawn flavour comes out as you chew on it. Flavours of the garnish burst out as you bite on it. Usually, the flavour from the liquid component will only be perceived at the beginning of the bite. But by turning it into a gel or thickening it, you can allow that flavour to linger a little bit longer.