Have you ever wondered what sodium citrate is? You have probably heard it on one or two occasions but you are not entirely sure what it is and its use. If you feel that way, then you are not alone.
Like most individuals, there is much to learn about sodium citrate. Most will be curious about what and how it is used, especially in cooking. While others may want to know how to make sodium citrate, which this article will cover.
What is Sodium Citrate?
Sodium citrate is a crystalline salt that is often found in citrus fruits. It is known by other names such as trisodium citrate, sour salt, and citric salt. It is a result of a chemical reaction during the process of citric acid fermentation. It is considered a modernist cooking ingredient that is typically used in spherification techniques.
It has a slightly tart and salty taste which is why it is used as a flavoring agent for a variety of beverages such as juices, soda, and energy drinks. Meanwhile, it creates a smooth emulsion without curdling allows the proteins to become more soluble in cheese sauce.
Uses of Sodium Citrate
One of the most common uses of sodium citrate is for smoothing cheese. It reduces the acidity of the cheese and makes the proteins in the cheese more soluble. This process prevents the cheese from separating into an unappealing consistency that results in a smooth, creamy texture that is perfectly incorporated together.
Additionally, this process allows cheese sauces to be cooled, reheated, molded, or cut for cheese slices and used as fondues. The best example of this is Velveeta cheese. The presence of sodium citrate makes this type of cheese melt so well.
Sodium citrate is also commonly used to neutralize and promote gelling in highly acidic liquids. At the same time, it prevents early gelling by reducing the calcium content in other liquids. While there is a wide range of uses of sodium citrate because of its simple chemistry, it is a go-to agent used as a preservative, emulsifier, buffer in food production.
Aside from its many use in food production, sodium citrate is also known to be a pH adjuster and water softener which is why it is often present in liquid laundry detergents. It can also be found in personal care items like soaps, shampoo, sunscreens, moisturizers, make-up, and baby wipes.
How to Make Sodium Citrate?
The production of sodium citrate is achieved through the neutralization proceed of citric acid with sodium hydroxide. Meanwhile, it is through fermentation and solvent extraction that citric acid is produced from citrus fruits.
For large-scale production of sodium citrate, molasses, or other sugar stocks are fermented with Aspergillus niger. Filtration is used to separate the liquid, while precipitation is used to extract citric acid.
Using Sodium Citrate With Various Cheese Dishes
When creating melted cheese using sodium citrate, the are three components that are needed which include the cheese, sodium citrate, and the liquid. The thickness and consistency of the melted cheese will depend on the amount of water and cheese used.
The first step that you need to do is to choose the type of cheese you want t use. The next step is to choose the type of liquid that would best suit your cheese. You can choose from juices, milk, cider, beer, or wine. The ratio you want will be 35% liquid for a semi-molded cheese, or it can be up to 120% to achieve a thin and runny cheese sauce.
The final component is sodium citrate. This will hold your cheese together while it melts. Normally, a 2.0% to 3.0% ratio of total liquid with the cheese weight should be used to do the trick. When mixing these three components, you will need an immersion blender to achieve a smooth consistency.
For other cheese dishes like cheese soup, sliceable cheese, and cheese fondue, you have to tweak the proportions of your liquid and cheese.
Once you have picked your desire cheese flavor and liquid that would best complement it, you will need to determine the correct proportions. Your liquid to cheese ratio should be about 120% liquid for a heartier cheese soup, or it can be up to 175% for a thinner version.
For cheese fondue, you would to first pick the cheese and liquid that go well together. Since a cheese fondue needs to have a very smooth and flowy consistency, you can use between 50% and 90% of liquid to create dips. However, for runnier consistency, you can go as high as 120%.
A sliceable cheese needs to have a firm consistency, so it can retain its form even after slicing. Once you have picked the cheese and liquid that you desire. Sliceable cheese requires a minimal amount of liquid to achieve its firmness. You can use less than 35% liquid with a firm molded cheese for this dish.