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How To Use It...

Starting at the beginning:  it comes as a powder. Once dissolved in cold water, it will thicken the water, anything from lemonade syrup thickness to wall paper paste, with lots of steps in between. You can choose which thickness you want based on how much you want it to bind things together in the cold. The more binding you need, the higher the thickness (known as viscosity).

There are many little tricks you can use and some you really need to know to dissolve methylcellulose. THE most important one is that it is COLD water soluble. Some types will only dissolve below about 12C; others below 25C. (Go to Technical Data Page: button at the bottom of this page). Try to dissolve them in warmer systems and they will do nothing. If you haven’t got a thermometer, simply used iced water and sieve out the ice before you use it. The chart in the section about reversible thermalgelation gives the approximate temperatures of dissolution of some of the methylcelluloses typically used in vegan foods.

That said, dropping the powder straight into cold water will make it lump, so don’t do that. Try one of the methods here:

  • Dry mixing with dispersing ingredients (salt, seasoning, dry powdered proteins, starches) is the commonest and most efficient method. In the featured vegan burger recipe method, I suggest adding the dry ingredients mixed together with the methylcellulose to the cold water. Best to add the dries to the water: this avoids little concentrated areas dissolving in a thick lump. THE important thing to remember here is that the dispersing ingredients must be.. well… water dispersible. So, it they lump anyway, they won't be much use. We’re not using milk powder, for instance, as that’s one example of a non-useful dispersing ingredient.

  • If using methylcellulose to stabilise a filling, simply dry mix and add to the liquids.

  • Hot dispersion. Note methylcellulose is not soluble in hot water. So if you really must make an aqueous solution, for example, to make a foam or a film, then simply disperse the methylcellulose in hot water and mix in. Then add cold water to bring the temperature down to its dissolution temperature. (For dissolution temperatures, go to Technical Data: button at the bottom of the page). For example, if you can use only 30-40% of your total water at 70C this will work well. Then add the remainder as chilled water (no ice) and stir gently. Allow the mix to cool to about 20C for standard methylcelluloses or 6C for the supergelling types.

  •  If you want to make a methylcellulose/oil emulsion and include that, simply disperse the methylcellulose in the oil, mix, add very cold water and high shear. A hand held blender is sufficient if you don’t have a food processor, Silverson or bowl cutter.

How much to use?

In the burger recipe I suggested 1%. This is absolutely typical. 0.75% will probably be OK; 1.25% really good; 1.5% really good but maybe a bit firm hot; 2% might not dissolve properly, simply too much polymer fighting over the available water.

If you try the recipe on different days at 1, 1.25 ish and 0.9% no harm done. Don’t go below 0.75%.

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