Thickened gravy turns liquid next day

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by icedhazelnut, Jul 2, 2004.

  1. icedhazelnut

    icedhazelnut

    Messages:
    16
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    At home cook
    Why does all my gravies turn into running liquids when reheated a day or two later?

    This happens all the time. What food science do I not understand?
    For example, I sauted some red and green peppers, scallions, mushrooms (I sauted the mushrooms separately because I know they have a lot of water in them and then added them to the other sauted vegetables) added my sauted chicken pieces added a little stock then thickened the mixture with flour.

    It thickened nicely, we ate sumptuously and I put away the leftovers for dinner the next night.

    When I poured the vegetables and chicken into the pan, the juice/gravy was as thin as water. Why?

    Thank you,
     
  2. chefmeow

    chefmeow

    Messages:
    53
    Likes Received:
    11
    Are you cooling it properly, uncovered and quickly? If you are covering it tightly while it is still hot, (especially with plastic wrap) condensation builds inside the container and thins your gravy.(not to metion an unsafe cooling practice). If this is not the case, I really have no idea what in the world would cause that. I would be interested to find out.
     
  3. scott123

    scott123

    Messages:
    330
    Likes Received:
    11
    Exp:
    Culinary Instructor
    The moisture that makes up the condensation originated from the gravy you put in the container. If the container is sealed, regardless of the condensation, no water is being added or subtracted.

    My best guess is that the salt in the gravy is drawing moisture from the veggies and the chicken. If your veggies and chicken were stored separatedly from the gravy than the gravy would be the same consistency when warmed.
     
  4. kuan

    kuan Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    6,711
    Likes Received:
    324
    Exp:
    Retired Chef
    Old flour or you didn't cook it enough. Do you recook it when you reheat?

    Kuan
     
  5. chefboy2160

    chefboy2160

    Messages:
    818
    Likes Received:
    15
    Exp:
    Retired Chef
    Use roux as your thickening agent,bring your sauce or gravy to a boil, simmer for about 20 minutes and youve got good sauce you can use for the next 5 days(allowing you chill it quickly).Cornstarch thickened sauces will not reheat to there origional consistencies nor will sauces sprinkled with (wondra) flour.Trust me this works as I used to make very large quantities of demi glace(for beef gravy mostly),turkey gravy, chicken gravy, and of course that most popular bechamel made with ground sausage(yeah country gravy) to top the chiken fried steaks and biscuits with! Like kuan said reheat it to 165 and youll be cool.Good eats , Doug.........................
     
  6. scott123

    scott123

    Messages:
    330
    Likes Received:
    11
    Exp:
    Culinary Instructor
    Kuan, it doesn't take long for the starch in flour to gelatinize (within seconds in a boiling liquid). Once it does gelatinize, the thickness of the sauce shouldn't change with reheating. Even if the sauce wasn't cooked long enough to gelatinize all the flour, it would still be the same soupy consistency the next day. Nothing would change. Flour can't revert to an ungelatinized state.

    Doug, you simmer your bechamel for 20 minutes?!?!?!
     
  7. chefboy2160

    chefboy2160

    Messages:
    818
    Likes Received:
    15
    Exp:
    Retired Chef
    Scott,when you have 40 gallons of the goo in your steam jacketed kettle and you bring it to a boil and then shut it off it still continues to simmer for quite a while.Just make sure your cooks helper who is panning this stuff up for you does not scrape the skin on the inside of the pot.
    Oh, I most definately agree with kuan that you did not cook your flour long enough.Doug..................
     
  8. scott123

    scott123

    Messages:
    330
    Likes Received:
    11
    Exp:
    Culinary Instructor
    Doug, 20 minutes is way too long for bechamel, whether being cooked by it's own latent heat or via heat source. The proteins/sugars in the milk start to brown very quickly. After 20 minutes doesn't your bechamel develop a slightly beige tint? That tint, besides being unappetizing to the eye, is proof of compromised flavor.

    A non milk based gravy thrives under long simmering but not a bechamel.

    If your circumstances force you to cook your bechamel for 20 minutes, that's one thing. Recommending it as an "ideal" time is an entirely different story.
     
  9. kuan

    kuan Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    6,711
    Likes Received:
    324
    Exp:
    Retired Chef
    There's short cut bechamel and there's bechamel. If you want to quickly thicken your bechamel fine, but if you want a smooth silky bechamel which doesn't taste like flour then you have to use proper technique.
     
  10. chefboy2160

    chefboy2160

    Messages:
    818
    Likes Received:
    15
    Exp:
    Retired Chef
    Your right Scott.Im sorry but 20 minutes is wrong.In my copy of the New Professional Chef (I think this is like a school book for people who are lucky enough to go to culinary school of which alas, I am not one of these) there are 2 recipes for Bechamel.The first one says "Simmer for a minimum of thirty minutes.(some chefs prefer to simmer the sauce for up to one hour)The second recipe says to just simmer the sauce for thirty minutes.
    The reason you simmer the sauce is to cook the flour.If you just throw it in and serve as soon as it thickens what you will be serving is paste. When a white sauce is made properly it can be held for many hours on a steam table or soup pot. When the flour is not cooked is when the sauce will break and also will not rethermalize to its previouse consistency.When you see cream soups break the most common culprit is that the soup was not simmered to allow the flour to cook so yes , even though youve got the flour in the sauce and its thick does not mean that it will stay that way.When a cream sauce breaks it turns to a very watery consistency.
    Hope this helps , just remember to cook that flour.Doug..........
     
  11. scott123

    scott123

    Messages:
    330
    Likes Received:
    11
    Exp:
    Culinary Instructor
    Kuan, don't tell me you too simmer your bechamel for 20+ minutes.

    Assuming you have cooked your roux sufficiently, any raw flour taste will disappear upon gelatinization. The prolonged cooking has nothing to do with the taste of the flour, it's for breaking down the starch particles for a more velvety sauce. Which, when making a non-milk based gravy works wonderfully. But not for bechamel. It's called "white" sauce for a reason. Not "beige" sauce.
     
  12. greg

    greg

    Messages:
    1,056
    Likes Received:
    24
    Exp:
    Professional Chef
    The thing that will turn a bechamel an off-white color is making your roux in an aluminum pan. Simmering a sauce for 20 minutes to stabilize it and to cook out raw flour taste is common practice.
     
  13. scott123

    scott123

    Messages:
    330
    Likes Received:
    11
    Exp:
    Culinary Instructor
    Doug, I can show you text books that say 12 hours for simmering stock and others that will swear by 4. Text books mean very little to me. What I want to hear is the science involved. Show me the chemistry behind cooking sauces to remove the raw flavor taste. If there is, I'm not familiar with it.

    The starches in flour:
    A. first gelatinize
    B. then break down further for a smoother sauce.

    Once flour gelatinizes there is no raw flour taste to be cooked away. You're not getting maillard reactions in your sauce toasting the rawness out of the flour. The starch in sauce is much like the crumb of bread. The bread hits a certain temperature, steamed is formed and the starches in the flour gelatinize. Water + flour + sufficient temperature = gelatinization. Do you eat the middle of french bread and say "that tastes like raw flour?" of course not.

    Gelatinized flour rethermalizes to exactly the same consistency whether it is cooked for 5 minutes or 30. It doesn't revert. It's a physical impossibility. And you can't say that it isn't completely gelatinized in 5 minutes, either. In boiling water flour gelatinizes in seconds.

    The reason behind prolonged simmering is textural. Prolonged simmering and rigorous whisking both will break down the starches to create a smoother sauce. With a carefully prepared roux and rigorous whisking, there is no difference in texture between a 5 minute bechamel and a 10 minute one (or a 20, 0r a 30). But there will be a difference in color when the proteins/sugars in the milk begin to caramelize.
     
  14. scott123

    scott123

    Messages:
    330
    Likes Received:
    11
    Exp:
    Culinary Instructor
    Greg, how many years was it "common practice" to sear meat to seal in the juices?

    I don't buy into anything because it's common practice or plastered all over textbooks. Too much of this stuff has been proven as myth. Give me the science.
     
  15. kuan

    kuan Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    6,711
    Likes Received:
    324
    Exp:
    Retired Chef
    All this over reheating gravy? Scott's on a mission to explain the process of gelatinization. But there's more to gelatinizing starch when making bechamel. When you gelatinize the starch you actually bust the starch granule. When you further cook it you break it down further into its sugar components like dextrose and such. Did you know that corn syrup is actually made from cornstarch? Enzymes are used in breaking down the cornstarch. I just learned that today from the wife.

    Maybe we're wrong when we describe the "raw" feel of starch in our mouths. We're probably tasting a big starch granule which hasn't been broken down. Nevertheless there is a difference in letting a bechamel simmer for 20-30 minutes as opposed to three minutes.

    Anyway to get a nice white bechamel use clarified butter to make the roux. It's better if you can get butter without the annato color. Use a stainless steel pot like Greg says. If the color changes that means you're burning stuff. Simmer it on low heat. Sugars don't caramelize at 212 degrees F. Just watch it and have a little cold milk on the side to knock it down if you see it starting to boil.

    Kuan
     
  16. chefboy2160

    chefboy2160

    Messages:
    818
    Likes Received:
    15
    Exp:
    Retired Chef
    OK Scott,for meat such as a prime rib roast well I like to carmelize the outside very quickly and then slow roast(this works well with all large roasts of different animals). Hey dude, every cook has some difference but what is proper procedure and works just is.It is not about sealing in the juices but about texture on your roast.As far as Sauces go well my friend you should reconsider your sources.The posts you have read are by some realy good chefs who are not posting to make themselves appear better than you but to just lend a helping hand to those who ask questions.Some of us kinda tend to know what works and what does not due to schooling and of course trial and error.Also I have never heard the word gelatizining used with roux or flour before.Flour is a starch while gelatin is an animal protien found in bones.Such is the reduction and sauce for Osso Buco.
    Scott, proper technique is what most chefs are trained in!Yeah you can branch out and you can make whatever recipes you want but the foundation is there for a reason because others have come before us to lay it before us by there hard work.Knowledge is where you find it but can only be absorbed if you realy listen.Doug...................
     
  17. icedhazelnut

    icedhazelnut

    Messages:
    16
    Likes Received:
    10
    Exp:
    At home cook
    Thank you all for your replies, my question sure sparked a great discussion.

    Well, from what I can gather from all your responses I may be cooling improperly (in ahurry to clean up and get done) and I don't store the gravy separately. I will do both in the future and see what results I get. I did use fresh flour and I did recook. I do like to salt my serving of food on my plate. So, It might be possible that without knowing it I'm adding salt to the stored mixture compounding the problem.

    Thanks!
     
  18. travelchick

    travelchick

    Messages:
    54
    Likes Received:
    10
    This is what is so interesting about cooking. Everyone has their method :)

    Although, I referenced my Escoffier on this and he says simmer for 2 hours. Of course, he's making a gallon...does more sauce mean longer simmer? Or not?

    I don't know, I've never made a bechamel. One of those things on my list of "to do" :D
     
  19. scott123

    scott123

    Messages:
    330
    Likes Received:
    11
    Exp:
    Culinary Instructor
    Kuan, I know this response comes way after the fact but I reread this post and noticed a few things that I had missed before.

    First of all, the conversion of starches to dextrose (dextrinization) occurs with dry heat, not wet (the crust of bread or when making a roux).

    You are correct about big starch granules being broken down to little ones by extra simmering. I still contend that 5 minutes of simmering and vigorous whisking will perform the same task without compromising the milk sugars.

    And, believe it or not, sugars do caramelize at 212 degrees f. We only associate higher temperatures with caramelization because of the speed involved. Caramelization can and does occur at lower temperatures, it's just decelarated.
     
  20. scott123

    scott123

    Messages:
    330
    Likes Received:
    11
    Exp:
    Culinary Instructor
    Escoffier says 2 hours, huh? That doesn't surprise me since he simmers his stock for 12 hours, a number I find excessive as well. I have met chefs that swear by 48 hour stocks, so, you're right, to each his own.

    More sauce translates into more time to get to a simmer, but once your sauce is simmering the clock is the same for both a small and large quantity. Once the bechamel is removed from the heat, the larger quantity will hold it's heat longer if it isn't broken down into smaller vessels or steps taken to speed it's cooling.

    Bechamel rocks! Once you do make one (cooking either 5 or 20 minutes :) ) it will be a thrilling experience, I promise you.

    Please let us know how it goes. And welcome to the forum.