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The Acid Effect

I stumbled on a neat bit of kitchen science this morning, which you can see illustrated here:

Saucer with murky grey and bright pink blobs of liquid

Kitchen Science

Both the murky grey puddle on the left and the cerise splash on the right are essentially the same liquid; a harvest of berries from my myrtle bush (Myrtus communis) boiled for a while with some water and a healthy dose of sugar. Okay, maybe that should be an unhealthy dose of sugar but that’s what you need to make a syrup.

What is the difference? The one that looks like you might want to pour it on your icecream is a sample taken just a few seconds after adding lemon juice to the pan. I think it is doing something to the pectin from the fruit, allowing it to clump together which would allow the mix to set if I boiled off enough water. However, in this case, I’m not after a set but there is probably something about how the changed structure of the liquid reflects the light that leads to the much improved colour.

So, for fruit-based sauces, a lemon or other acid-contributing ingredient seems a key element to remember.

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