One of the questions I see frequently is about the nature of Ultra Gel. I talk about it all the time and I have a pretty good Ultra Gel primer over on the cornabys website, but thought I’d chat about it a little here too and try to help with any questions.
Ultra Gel is a ‘Modified Food Starch’, which is a rather confusing combination of words and for a lot of people it causes concern. To boil things down, Ultra Gel is corn starch made from a type of corn called waxy maize. So there’s the Starch and Food part of it. The modified term is applied because of the fact that Ultra Gel is an instant starch. It’s all puffy and can just be stirred into anything that you want to make thick without having to be added to water or other dry ingredients first. There is a mechanical process the starch goes through to make it an instant and that is where the ‘modified’ comes from. We work with our producers to make sure the products we develop and distribute provide the best quality we can, while also steering clear of GMOs and allergens. Ultra Gel only consists of corn so is gluten free and allergy safe provided you aren’t allergic to corn.
So there’s the concern list out of the way. 🙂 As a home cook I love Ultra Gel for the flexibility and control it gives me in the kitchen. So many kitchen troubles and ingredient choices all surround making food come to the right thickness and texture and with Ultra Gel I can manage those.
For example…most ranch dressing recipes get their thickness from mayo, or from a combination of mayo and sour cream. Both of these items are available in low fat or fat free versions, but taking the fat out of these gives both a slightly off flavor. With Ultra Gel I can work with the lo fat mayo (Best Foods is my favorite) to give me the flavor and mouthfeel I want, but I can decrease the amount and replace everything else with buttermilk. Mayo, like all full fats, has 100 calories per tablespoon. Beautiful, flavorful buttermilk…has 5 calories per tablespoon. So if I replace 1 cup of mayo (100 cal/Tbl) and 1 cup of 1 percent milk (7 cal/Tbl) with 1/2 cup light mayo (50 cal/Tbl) and 1 1/2 cups buttermilk (5 cal/Tbl) I can make a significant calorie reduction. By using Ultra Gel my recipe is still as thick as I want it, and by adding my own spices I know exactly what is in my mix. So all in all I end up with a product that tastes fantastic, holds up in the fridge, contains only ingredients that I want, is low in calories and is just as fast to mix up as a packet from the store with it’s preservatives.
And that’s only one example. I add Ultra Gel to whipping cream for stability and to bread for better rise. I use it in cookies so they’ll stay soft longer and white sauce so that it will maintain consistency in the fridge without all the milk proteins separating out.
I may sound like a cheerleader and, in truth, I pretty much am. I use about 30-40 pounds of Ultra Gel a year in my own cooking and have for over a decade. The reason my mother started her business selling Ultra Gel wasn’t because we thought we’d make millions, believe me we haven’t though we’re always hopeful, but because when you find something that makes such a difference to the way YOU cook and to the control and ease you have in the kitchen, you just have to share it with everyone around you.
So there’s my shameless plug. I love my Ultra Gel and I think we’re going to make some fresh heirloom tomatoes into salsa now. Bon apetite.