Thicken cold sauce?
July 29, 2008 6:26 AM   Subscribe

Cooking filter: How do I go about thickening a hot sauce without changing the transparency?

I'm familiar with techniques like adding flour and cornstarch to sauces and soups being cooked, but adding flour and cornstarch makes the solution a little more opaque. Plus, this sauce has never been-nor will ever be-heated. Is there a clear, tasteless thickening agent I can use?
posted by danep to Food & Drink (20 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
i can't vouch for any of the sellers on amazon but you may have luck with agar. several of the products indicate thy are for use in cold dishes.
posted by phil at 6:31 AM on July 29, 2008

posted by dowcrag at 6:38 AM on July 29, 2008

A stock made properly will be full of gelatin and thicken greatly when cold; this recipe is good.
posted by TedW at 6:43 AM on July 29, 2008

ditto to arrowroot.
posted by gwenlister at 6:51 AM on July 29, 2008

I came in to say arrowroot. Although agar may be a better idea since it doesn't involve any heating.
posted by piedmont at 7:02 AM on July 29, 2008

If thickening it while hot, arrowroot or tapioca starches will be clear.

One thing that will thicken while cold is konjac powder, if you can find it. It is the powder used to make shirataki noodles. But be VERY sparing with it; it is a powerful thickener and too much will give you the consistency of something close to jello very quickly.
posted by lleachie at 7:09 AM on July 29, 2008

You have to heat arrowroot.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 7:14 AM on July 29, 2008

You could try using a small amount of unflavored gelatin. If needs to be boiled to activate, but you can cool it down most of the way to room temperature before it sets, and mix it in with your sauce. Start by using less than you think you need, and use a beater or blender to incorporate.
posted by Citrus at 7:23 AM on July 29, 2008

Arrowroot, which has been said already... I'll leave now.
posted by rokusan at 7:31 AM on July 29, 2008

Xanthan gum stays clear, doesn't need to be cooked, and a tiny sprinkle of it goes a long way.
posted by bink at 7:42 AM on July 29, 2008

Xanthan gum works like magic.
posted by HotPatatta at 7:44 AM on July 29, 2008

Thirding xanthan gum. ThickenThin not/Starch is a commercially available mixture of guar gum and xanthan gum which I've had good luck with using to thicken soups and stews. A little goes a long way and it doesn't need to be heated.
posted by peacheater at 7:58 AM on July 29, 2008

Agar has to be heated to thicken. Unless you like a separate layer of wallpaper type paste at the bottom of your sauce that is.
posted by car01 at 8:13 AM on July 29, 2008

Psyllium husks? Adds fiber, too.
posted by greatgefilte at 8:59 AM on July 29, 2008

Another possibility is pectin. But it probably isn't as good as some of the other choices here.
posted by Class Goat at 10:50 AM on July 29, 2008

Careful with guar gum. Some people have an, erm...explosive reaction to it, especially in quantity.
posted by QIbHom at 10:55 AM on July 29, 2008

Food science ignorance here. The arrowroot and agar need heating, could they be heated into solution and then added to the sauce?
posted by piedmont at 11:54 AM on July 29, 2008

Potato starch (usually available from Chinese shops) might. But I'd try it on small area of the sauce that doesn't show first.
posted by rhymer at 12:43 PM on July 29, 2008

he arrowroot and agar need heating, could they be heated into solution and then added to the sauce?

For the agar, this shouldn't be a major problem. Standard (microbiological) setting amounts are 15g/L, so you'd need 1.5g for every 100mL of sauce to make it set solid. If you just want to thicken, I'd suggest maybe a third of this (0.5g in every 100mL).

If you're going to go down the 'heating thickening agent prior to adding' route, I'd suggest gelatine which is specifically designed for this - although you'd need to ramp down the amount of gelatine you add to avoid solid setting.
posted by car01 at 2:15 AM on July 30, 2008

thanks everyone. I'm going to try the arrowroot option (make small warm solution then add to my sauce).
posted by danep at 10:11 AM on July 31, 2008

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