The Loh Down On Science

Can you make a low-fat sauce seem like a full-fat sauce?

Can we cut fat without cutting flavor?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science, saying:

Don't toy with us, food scientists!  Our lipid-clogged hearts can't take it!

You've tried commercial low-fat sauces or dressings.  They're thinner and wimpier than their full-fat versions.

One way to make a low-fat sauce seem thicker and richer is to make the fat droplets clump together.  This can happen naturally at certain pH levels, but you don't always want to monkey with a food's acidity.

Is there another option?  Scientists at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and food company ConAgra think so.  They've made a white sauce that's two percent fat, but looks and feels like ten percent fat!

Before you start imagining a rich Hollandaise, this was a laboratory white sauce.  Just water, starch, protein, and fat.  Flavor will come later.

The team experimented with adding calcium and heat.  Turns out this can have the same effect as changing the pH.  Namely, the fat clumped, making the sauce less like runny yogurt and more like custard.

Now all we need is Emeril to throw on some cheese and kick it up a notch.  Bam!

***** For more 90-SECOND SCIENCE FACTS, click here.*****

The Loh Down on Science is produced by LDOS Media Lab, in partnership with the University of California, Irvine, and 89.3 KPCC. And made possible by the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.


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