Adding powders to liquid when cooking
July 13, 2007 4:01 PM   Subscribe

Everytime I make Hamburger Helper Cheeseburger Macaroni, the powder clumps up when I add it to the liquid. How do I stop it from doing this?

No food snobs please. Sometimes you just need some comfort food.
posted by Roger Dodger to Food & Drink (13 answers total)
Have you tried pouring in the powder first, then adding the liquid slowly -- and stirring all along?
posted by ericb at 4:08 PM on July 13, 2007

Cold water and a whisk, in a large cup. Beat the powder into that first, then pour it in. Good eating!
posted by Meatbomb at 4:10 PM on July 13, 2007

if you've been adding it to hot liquid, try adding it to a little cold water and mixing, then add to the hot liquid. or vice versa.
posted by dorian at 4:11 PM on July 13, 2007

(damn your scaly hide, Meatbomb ^_^)
posted by dorian at 4:13 PM on July 13, 2007

Making a paste with just a little liquid and then adding the rest works, but is too much effort for me.

Instead I mostly just get the liquid hotter. Steaming slightly is my typical starting point, and if it doesn't mix right away it goes back into the microwave for another quick spin. So far everything gives in after one cycle of this.
posted by anaelith at 4:23 PM on July 13, 2007

I learned this from a chef many years ago, works any time you have to add powder to a liquid, from making gravy to powdered cocoa.

Take the power and some cold water, put it in a appropriately sized (small) sealable plastic container (Tupperware, Rubbermaid) seal it well and shake. Pour this soup in with the rest of the liquid.

Don't do this with hot liquid or you will heat the air in the container and it will blow the lid off and make a giant mess.
posted by Ookseer at 5:07 PM on July 13, 2007

I work for the company which handles all of the production art and prepress work for General Mills' packaging. Without getting myself into an NDA brouhaha, General Mills constantly revises and updates the formula and preparation of its meal products. The directions you see on the box have likely been superseded by newer/better instructions.

Call 1-800-328-8360 and ask GMI; the number should be on a side panel in a box titled "The Red Spoon Guarantee". It's quite possible you have a bad batch of cheese which is light on an emulsifier or there could even be revised prep instructions. At the very least you might get GMI to send you out some freebie Helper.

Fun Tip: If you turn the eyes and mouth of the Helping Hand 180 degrees, he becomes the Harried Hand who needs to go back on his medication.
posted by nathan_teske at 6:24 PM on July 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

I am so embarrassed that I know this, but my method is as advised: add the powder to a large measuring cup first. Add the water a bit at a time, wisking it in from paste, to thinner paste, to "sauce".

Cook and enjoy. 'Cause once in a while, I have to confess, I do.
posted by Savannah at 6:34 PM on July 13, 2007

Off topic, but as far as comfort food goes, I love to cook up some Annie's Mac and Cheese Al Dente, and then add a can of chili ( usually TJ's turkey chili, but sometimes bearitos chili) and heat through. Probably very similar to your HHCM, and also has the same clumping cheese problem. I just stir like crazy. You've got to love one pot cooking.
posted by BrotherCaine at 9:01 PM on July 13, 2007

I always add the powder to the meat (so the meat has a little extra flavor) add about a cup of water, stir it with a spatula, and add the rest of the liquids.
posted by Roundball at 10:13 PM on July 13, 2007

That happens to me too. I just stir and stir and as the sauce thickens a bit, the clumps usually disappear, leaving me with a creamy cheesy sauce!

If it's really annoying me, I will break up the chunks with a fork.
posted by triggerfinger at 4:48 AM on July 14, 2007

I use Roundball's method. If I'm doing something fancy I'll go the slurry/shaker method, but it's Hamburger Helper, and if you want HH you want it NOW and you only want to dirty one dish. Any clumps will usually melt with additional stirring. If they don't, you proclaim them "flavor capsules" and carry on, though usually a last vigorous stir once everything else has thickened up will turn them into flavor ribbons.
posted by Lyn Never at 4:56 AM on July 14, 2007

The word you're looking for is slurry.
but yeah.
Cold water and a whisk.
(the technique was created to be able to thicken hot soups and stews with starches, and not make dumplings.)
posted by The Esteemed Doctor Bunsen Honeydew at 10:41 AM on July 14, 2007

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