how to thicken salad dressing?

38
10
Joined May 30, 2016
I'm interested in low-cal, no-oil salad dressings. Of course, the best are ones that are slightly clingy. There are at least two ways to achieve this clinginess, I understand. One is with cornstarch, heated with water to thicken, and another is maltodextrin, which is available (a little less conveniently, I guess) at brew supply stores. Of course, the latter is made from the former, and can be a bit sweet. Any information on which is best to use cooking- preservation- or taste-wise? For that matter, I have to assume that corn syrup would be an adequate dressing thickener. Commercially, I believe that low-cal dressings use maltodextrin by default. Why?
 
38
10
Joined May 30, 2016
That's an interesting idea, but we're talking about thickening without flavoring.
 
38
10
Joined May 30, 2016
OK, so Xanthan gum works. But unless there is a reason to use that instead of the others, why should I? FWIW, it's more expensive than corn starch or maltodextin. I gather that the thickening power of Xanthan gum is the same as cornstarch. I'm looking for a comparative assessment of the various candidates.

Clearly one disadvantage with cornstarch compared to the rest is that you need to heat the stuff up. But my vinaigrette won't care about that.

Again, must be some reason why commercial low-cal dressings use maltodextrin instead of the others.

By the way, I've learned that prepared Dijon mustard is actually a good coagulant. So if you like the flavor, it's an excellent idea. I understand better now where the idea of honey-mustard dressings come from.
 
Last edited:
3,891
768
Joined Dec 18, 2010
Emulsifier, not coagulant.

I assume that the commercial use of Maltodextrin is the inexpensive cost.

Some starches need heat to thicken and that’s not ideal for a salad dressing. Plus, they may not be stable over time and refrigeration.
 
Last edited:
3,891
768
Joined Dec 18, 2010
I just looked at 4 different salad dressing brands in my refrigerator. None list Maltodextrin as an ingredient. 3 list Xanthan and 1 has such tiny font on the ingredient list that I couldn’t really read, but I think it uses mustard... I could read that.
 
38
10
Joined May 30, 2016

That's helpful, but it would be nice to see disadvantages as well as advantages. That list doesn't include corn starch, but the need to heat the cornstarch is inconvenient. The need for stability in acidic environments is important, and it looks like Xanthan might be noteworthy in that respect. But it is understood that Maltodextrin has decent acid stability, and it's use in acidic commercial dressings gives extra confidence. Also important is bacterial degradation, and e. coli grows just as well in all of them. Rice syrup solids is another interesting option, though it is a little sweet. That stuff is also available pretty cheaply in brewer supply stores. Yes, beer thickening is a big deal. Imperial stouts have a thick mouth feel, and this is how they get it. Gum arabic is pricey. That's off the table.

There is a substance called "Thick-It", marketed by Walmart that is an established food and beverage thickener. Not sure exactly what it is, but it is described as cornstarch-derived, and works in cold liquids.

I have to assume that with regard to these, the desirability pretty much comes down to cost. Coin flip time.
 
3,891
768
Joined Dec 18, 2010
There are several formulations of Thick-It, each using a different ingredient. Google their site; the ingredients are disclosed. They are intended for short-duration use... long enough to get liquids down the gullet of medical patients with swallowing difficulties. Use for longer durations or in other food applications ... who knows?
 
3,891
768
Joined Dec 18, 2010
Your thought process is all over the map. What’s the scenario... e.g. quantity, home-use or commercial production, etc.? Or is this a homework assignment?
 
868
544
Joined May 28, 2015
I use Dijon, vinegar or lemon and garlic with a bit of kefir or plain yoghurt. Will post some photos tomorrow.
 
Last edited:
38
10
Joined May 30, 2016
Your thought process is all over the map. What’s the scenario... e.g. quantity, home-use or commercial production, etc.? Or is this a homework assignment?

Gosh, what a strange remark. I'm just working out what are credible thickeners for salad dressing. It's for home use. You need to stop looking at maps.
 
3,182
633
Joined May 5, 2010
I know it is not low calorie, but it is corn syrup that gives commercial dressing the thickness.
 
38
10
Joined May 30, 2016
That is true about HFCS that some commercial dressings are thickened with it. But not many. I just wish I knew the relative advantages and disadvantages of each of these thickeners. Kind of a coin-flip proposition. There may be ten different ways to thicken salad dressing, but the question is WHICH ONE is the one I want. Why should I use one instead of the other?

I'm looking for USE THIS BECAUSE ...
 
Last edited:
7,657
831
Joined Apr 3, 2008
Maybe use pectin or gelatin. As to why, I don’t know why. Why would you want to make dressing thicker than normal pantry and dressing ingredients would make it? Sometimes it’s better not to ask why.
 
4,436
97
Joined Aug 4, 2000
I'm uncertain if this applies but the use of EVOO always emulsified my dressings. They held longer than others and it was confirmed by a pro chef friend of mine.
 
38
10
Joined May 30, 2016
I'm uncertain if this applies but the use of EVOO always emulsified my dressings. They held longer than others and it was confirmed by a pro chef friend of mine.

That's a fair point, but the original idea was to make a no-oil dressing. If you want to use oil, emulsification is no big deal.
 
Top Bottom