I first came across lecithin as an ingredient when making cashew cheesecakes but had no idea what it was. Cue a montage of research to get this little guide together.
WHAT IS LECITHIN?
Lecithin is a phospholipid, a type of fat, that is often used as an additive.
WHY WOULD I ADD IT TO A RECIPE?
Lecithin is an emulsifier. It decreases the surface tensions and combines ingredients that wouldn’t normally mix together, such as oil and water. Also, lecithin is naturally found in foods such as egg yolks. So if you’re not using eggs, lecithin will need to be replaced which is why you may see soy lecithin in shop-bought products.
According to this super helpful article over on Fast Easy Bread, common emulsions in cooking are salad dressings (such as vinaigrettes, vegan ranch dressing), chocolates, vegan mayonnaise, icings, frostings, ice creams, margarine, and confections.
WHY DO I SEE IT IN SO MANY FOODS IN THE SUPERMARKET?
As well as emulsifying, lecithin increases the shelf life of foods and creates standardisation when producing huge amounts of the same product. For example, imagine you saw a dressing in the supermarket and the ingredients had separated in the bottle, you would have to stir each bottle consistently to keep them mixed together. Lecithin makes products look like they were intended whilst sitting on the shelf.
WHAT FORM DOES IT COME IN?
It is available as granules, powder or in liquid form.
WHERE CAN I BUY IT AND HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?
It’s not something you’ll find in the local supermarket but once it’s in your kitchen, it’ll last for a long time. The lecithin in the photos is from specialingredients.co.uk but it’s also available on Whole Foods and I imagine it’ll be available at most specialist food stores, like my local Real Foods.
I’M READY TO TRY IT OUT, GIVE ME A RECIPE!
Alrighty, if you’re ready to give it a go, why not make yourself a nice cashew cheesecake.