We've been reading labels lately and it's an eye-opening experience. No matter whether or not you love or hate the use of hydrocolloids, the places they turn up will surprise you. Our recent dessert project had us making ice cream. Normally we buy our raw milk and heavy cream under the Trickling Springs label and they are delicious. Under the gun we had to resort to some supermarket organic brands. On a whim Alex checked the ingredient list never expecting to actually see anything but heavy cream. Imagine our surprise to read: Organic Grade A cream (milk), sodium citrate and carrageenan. Another big organic brand had: Cream (organic), carrageenan.
Information tends to come in waves. Not long after that we read a blog post about organic milk and cheesemaking that rang a bell for us. As we worked on cheese recipes for the book we had trouble with milk from the most readily available organic brands. Not that we have anything against pasteurization or the use of hydrocolloids per se, but ultra pasteurization and organics don't necessarily mesh in our brains and we wonder why anyone would need to add hydrocolloids to really good heavy cream. We understand the science behind why carrageenan and sodium citrate would be added but not necessarily why the need exists. Maybe it's simple naivete to expect heavy to cream to be only that. Or maybe it means we need to take a closer look at what we're buying and why.