According to legend, one of the national dishes of Switzerland, cheese fondue, was invented by peasants during the winter famine in order to use the leftovers of food. But according to the Swiss Cheese Fellowship, this is the fruit of the work of many eminent masters. Both versions explain well how, using the same recipe, you can get both a wonderful dish and a disgusting inedible something. And recently, scientists from Zurich presented their explanation of the secret of fondue.
Fondue contains cheese, starch, spices and wine, and the food does not have to be of good quality. The chef's task is to mix, heat and melt all the ingredients to get a uniform sauce, where the croutons will then be dipped. The main goal is to achieve the correct viscosity of the mixture. From a scientific point of view, this task is formulated as obtaining a dispersed mixture of drops of fat, casein and starch granules, and the concentration and quality of the latter are of particular importance.
The fondue sauce should be moderately airy, adhere ideally to the bread, while it is very important that the components are integrated, and that the mixture does not stratify into fibers and lumps. Cheese in this case should be considered as a protein gel interspersed with balls of fat, which are released as the gel melts. When wine is added - always dry, with a low pH level - in the amount of 30-40% of the whole dish, fat emulsification and protein dispersion take place. Therefore, in the recipe, starch is needed, only 3% of the volume of the dish, which will bind water, proteins and fats together, and also start the process of gelatinization of the mixture.
The secret is to force the fondue to remain around the gel point, the boundary beyond which a rapid transition from liquid to solid is possible. This requires balancing the electrostatic forces of the ingredients in the dish in order to maintain the required viscosity level. The result is a creamy thick sauce in which all the ingredients are in an ideal combination - achieving this is the main task of the chef.