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Adding water to salad dressing

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

Recently, I came across a salad dressing recipe that uses 1 tablespoon of hot water, although it didn't state the reason for this.  I also read an interview with a professional chef from the UK who "dampens down the whole thing with splashes of cold water" after he's done making the dressing.  The only other time I've seen water listed as an ingredient is with Good Seasonings, which includes approximately 1 ounce of water.  

 

What's your take on adding water to a dressing?  Does it help to balance out the vinegar to oil?  What other purpose would it serve?

 

What about adding hot water vs cold?  Both recipes seemed pretty typical otherwise, e.g. shallots, mustard, oil, vinegar, s&p.   

post #2 of 7

I find water in salad dressing to be a way to control an overly aggressive vinegar. Cuts the bite.  Also useful when using dried ingredients rather than fresh. Hydrates them. In the rare occasion that I use dried I hydrate them (and the salt) first in the vinegar, then emulsify with mustard, shallots, and oil... and correct with water and salt as needed.

 

This may be old wives tale on water, but I only use cold water. If hot is ever needed it is cold water that has been heated versus from the hot tap. I have no idea what is growing inside the hot water heater or pipes.

post #3 of 7

Water dilutes the acidity level of the equation (vinegar, mustard, whatever).

 

If you were using water to bring a broken emulsification back together, the general rule is hot for cold (like mayo) and cold for hot (like hollandaise). In this case, you are not fixing an emulsification so whether hot or cold shouldn't really matter because the small amount of water would rapidly become the same temp as the other ingredients.

 

I am with @BrianShaw on the source of the water. Hot water heaters can develop mineral deposits that can yield an off taste to the water that comes out of them.

Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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post #4 of 7
Thread Starter 

cheflayne, I didn't realize that different water temps are used for emulsification.  I'll have to read up on that further, but in a nutshell, you're saying that with mayo, you start with hot water and it eventually cools off and with hollandaise, you start with cold water and it heats up as you cook it?

post #5 of 7
Thread Starter 

Can you also use more oil to cut the bite of vinegar or is water more effective?

post #6 of 7

More oil will just make it thicker and closer to breaking because you would be getting closer to the point of maximum ratio of fat to acid. As to emulsifications, the hot to cold and cold to hot rule is for bringing back an emulsification that is just starting to break, not a starting point.

Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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post #7 of 7
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the explanation.  One last question -----  what is the maximum ratio of fat to acid?  I've seen some recipes call for 4:1 or 5:1.  

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