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Molecular gastronomy applies science to put a modern spin on traditional foods. For this simple recipe, combine maltodextrin powder with olive oil or any other flavorful oil or melted fat to make a powdered oil. Maltodextrin is a carbohydrate powder derived from starch that dissolves the instant it hits your mouth. It melts away, with no gritty or powdery sensation, so you taste the oil.
- olive oil
Food-grade maltodextrin is sold under many names, including N-Zorbit M, Tapioca Maltodextrin, Maltosec, and Malto. While tapioca maltodextrin is one of the common types, the polysaccharide is made from other starches, such as corn starch, potato starch, or wheat starch.
Use any flavorful oil. Good choices are olive oil, peanut oil, and sesame oil. You can season the oil or use flavored rendered fat, such as from bacon or sausage. One way to season the oil is to heat it in a pan with seasonings, such as garlic and spices. Expect deeply colored oils to color the resulting powder. Another option is to combine maltodextrin with other fatty products, such as peanut butter. The only rule is to mix it with a lipid, not water or a high-moisture ingredient.
Make Olive Oil Powder
This is extremely simple. Essentially all you do is whisk together maltodextrin and oil or combine them in a food processor. If you don't have a whisk, you can use a fork or spoon. For a powder, you'll want about 45-65% powder (by weight), so a good starting point (if you don't want to measure) is to go half and half with the oil and maltodextrin. Another method is to slowly stir oil into the powder, stopping when you have reached your desired consistency. If you do want to measure ingredients, here is a simple recipe:
- 4 grams powdered maltodextrin
- 10 grams extra virgin olive oil
For a fine powder, you can use a sifter or push the powder through a strainer. You can plate the powdered olive oil by serving it in a decorative spoon or topping dry foods, such as crackers. Don't put the powder in contact with a water-containing ingredient or it will liquefy.
Storing Oil Powder
The powder should be good about a day at room temperature or several days, sealed and refrigerated. Be sure to keep the powder away from moisture or high humidity.
Aside from offering the possibility to serve familiar food in new ways, one big advantage of using the dextrin is that it lets you turn a liquid into a solid. A similar process is used to make powdered alcohol. The difference is the chemical used. Powdered alcohol is made by combining alcohol with cyclodextrin rather than maltodextrin. Cyclodextrin can be combined with up to 60% alcohol. If you want to make powdered alcohol yourself, keep in mind you need to use pure alcohol, not an aqueous solution. Cyclodextrin, like maltodextrin, readily dissolves in water. Another use of cyclodextrin is as an odor-absorber. It is the active ingredient in Febreze.