Port Fluid Gel
A solid and a liquid at the same time? A gel that behaves like a thickened liquid? Fluid gels are a great modernist way to add a new texture to your dishes and present them beautifully. Hot or cold, fluid gels can be made from fruit or vegetable juices, stocks, beverages and practically any flavorful liquid you want.
Fluid gels allow you to incorporate flavorful liquids in dishes that wouldn't work well with liquid ingredients. On a flat plate or to coat other ingredients, fluid gels could be more adequate than liquids.
A fluid gel also adds a smooth and creamy texture to the liquid, allowing you to present a liquid ingredient with a different mouthfeel and play with different textures such as a carrot fluid gel and a carrot foam for example.
If you've taken our Gels Course, you probably already know what fluid gels are. Fluid gels have both the properties of solids and liquids. Gels are usually solidified liquids that hold its shape thanks to their molecular structure. On the other hand, liquids are fluid and do not hold their shape given their weak molecular structure. But fluid gels can hold their shape while they are also fluid and can be spread or reshaped into various forms.
Some hydrocolloids display a unique characteristic when blended or stirred and create a fluid gel. If you were to blend a gel made with gelatin or carrageenan, the force of the blades (called shear) would turn the solid gel into a liquid. If the temperatures were right, that liquid would slowly convert back into a gel. This shear thinning property is called thixotropy. Under static conditions, these hydrocolloids produce solid gels (or thick viscous fluids) that will start flowing and become less viscous when agitated, stirred, shaken or blended. If let to rest, these fluids would return to their original solid state or thick viscosity. The time it takes for this transformation depends on the hydrocolloid. It could be instant or it could take a few hours.
Other hydrocolloids such as agar agar, become fluid when blended but do not return back to their original solid gel state. When blending an agar agar gel, it breaks down into tiny pieces but will not revert back into a solid. We refer to this by saying that agar agar forms a fluid gel under shear. A fluid gel is still a gel, but because of the smaller particle size, it behaves in many ways like a thickened fluid. Agar agar and gellan gum are the most common hydrocolloids used to make fluid gels.
Let's learn how to make a simple fluid gel with Port wine and agar agar.
- 250 g (8.8 oz) Port wine
- 4 g (1.6%) agar agar
1- In a small pan over medium heat, bring to boil the Port wine and agar agar. Whisk occasionally to make sure the agar agar is dispersed and fully hydrated.
2- Pour the liquid in a container and let it set.
3- Cut the agar gel in small cubes.
4- Blend the gel cubes thoroughly using an immersion blender until smooth.
5- Pass the fluid gel through a fine sieve.
6- Store in a sealed container or squeeze bottle in the fridge until ready to use.