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Apr 11, 2005 11:19 PM

Secret to Matzo Balls? - Sinkers v. Floaters

  • k

I attempted matzo ball soup for the second time tonight -- the soup part, no problem. Now the matzo balls, that's a different story. I prefer more of a floater -- anyone have good tips for ensuring a lighter, though not falling apart matzo ball? I've seen recipes w/ seltzer, some add whipped egg whites...what's the secret? Is it starting w/ already ground matzo meal v. whole sheets of matzo? Mine were definite sinkers.

Thanks in advance!

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  1. 2 tips:

    1) it's easier to get them lighter when they're smaller

    2) you can't take the lid off the pot, just like with making rice, it's really important to leave the lid on for a while in order for them to fluff up right

    maybe someone else can help with the ingredient part of this question...

    7 Replies
    1. re: Adrienne

      I've had lots of luck using the recipe on the box of Manechevitz matzo meal.

      Follow the recipe exactly. Don't be tempted to add more matzo meal to make a "tighter" mix-this is how sinkers are made. Let the batter firm up in the fridge before you roll the balls.

      Boil the matzo balls for one to two hours. This sounds excessive, but will produce a light and tender knaidle.

      Please let us know your results.

      Evil Ronnie

      1. re: Evil Ronnie

        I'm a back-of-the-Manechevitz-box proponent, too, but in a loose kind of way. I suspect floating or sinking has less to do with ingredients or their proportions as with rolling technique. Use a light touch so you don't pack everything together into a dense little sinker.

        1. re: Tatania
          Michele Cindy

          Can you boil them in the chicken broth, or do you have to boil in water? I've always put them into the broth, I have a feeling this also is why mine may be sinkers. Thanks for the tips.

          1. re: Michele Cindy

            Definitely boil in water, then transfer to the soup. I agree with putting the batter into the fridge.

            1. re: applehome

              All great advice -- I think i've got at least two batches ahead of me -- will report back!

              Thanks much!

            2. re: Michele Cindy

              IMO, matzo balls boiled in water have less flavor than those cooked in broth. If you don't want to deplete your home-made broth, simmer them in low-sodium canned stock.

        2. re: Adrienne

          Two more tips:

          Use seltzer for the liquid.

          Chill the mixture longer than the recipe on the box says before forming it into balls and cooking. I usually make the mix in the morning when I want matzo balls for dinner.

        3. Honestly, ever since I discovered Manischewitz matzoh ball mix, I have never made matzoh balls from scratch again. My fiercely Hungarian Jewish mother used the mix as well - in fact she's the one who started me on it. The ingredients listed on the box are perfectly innocuous and the matzoh balls turn out absolutely perfectly every single time (if a little salty, but then again, I like salty). One trick - cook for a bit longer than the box says. I can't remember right now how long it says to cook for - but keep simmering for half again as long. They'll be perfect - fluffy floaters.

          4 Replies
          1. re: Nyleve

            I second this! My mother in law was the one who taught me that the secret is to just use the mix. Light, fluffy and delish every time. I've tried doing it from scratch and have tried various tips such as seltzer water, but nothing ever worked.

            1. re: Nyleve

              I used matzoh ball mix for awhile, too, but then I noticed that the ingredients are basically matzoh meal and baking soda. Now I just add a little baking soda to a standard recipe and they come out very light and fluffy. You can't use baking soda on Passover though, if you're following the rules.

              1. re: Nyleve
                Marion Morgenthal

                I tried the Manischewitz mix a few years ago, and deposited the matzoh balls directly in the garbage after cooking. Salty doesn't begin to describe the taste. They were truly horrible. I've been using Streit's brand ever since, and have never had that awful experience with them. I wrote to Manischewitz about it and got no reply, convincing me never to buy any of their products again.

                1. re: Marion Morgenthal

                  Ah well, good thing you won't be coming to our sedar - although you're welcome to if you happen to be in the neighbourhood. Feel free to skip the matzoh balls, though. They'll be from the box.

              2. All good advice, but here's the short list of reasons for sinkers:
                1. Too much matzo meal
                2. You took the cover off the pot too soon.
                3. You crowded them in the pot (leave lots of room for expansion).
                4. The batter was too thick (don't refrigerate for longer than 1/2 hour -- the batter should be difficult to keep round).
                5. It will be sticky -- keep watering your hands with cold water and you will be able to slide off the balls into the boiling water.
                6. Make sure the water is at a full boil as you drop them in.
                7. By all means, use the prepared matzo meal rather than crushed matzos.
                8. If you use beaten egg whites, you need less fat. Healthier.

                1. My grandma's matzo balls are the best - definitely floaters, really tasty - and she always says the only secret is that the matzo meal must be absolutely fresh. She uses the recipe on the matzo meal box. How to ensure fresh matzo meal is unknown to me, because I've never attempted matzo balls. Now that Grandma's turning 90 this year, it's about time for me to stand with her to do them. One of my cousins already learned so we have her to fall back on.

                  p.s. Grandma buys jarred gefilte fish but then recooks it, and it's really great. She used to make fresh gefilte fish back when she was a young mom in Detroit, but says the fish out here (LA) isn't worth the bother. I just got her method for recooking because I bought a huge jar of gefilte fish at Costco, 16 pieces for $5.79 or something like that, but I haven't done the recooking yet. Rinse the fish, put up a pan of water at poaching level, add a chunked onion and a couple carrots (chopped into biggish pieces), a little salt, a decent amount of pepper, maybe some sliced celery, a pinch of sugar, and simmer for about 1/2 hour - either covered or uncovered, I'd probably do uncovered. Cool. Serve the carrot chunks with the fish. This would do 6-8 pieces of gefilte fish. She says don't do too many at one time.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Debbie W.

                    My Mom recooked gefilte fish for years. She taught me to boil using the jellied broth from the jar, though. Maybe more flavor? No rinsing involved. Parsnip is a great addition as well.

                    Another plea to get together with your Grandma and ask for her recipes. You will be SO glad you did.

                    My husband and I have discovered frozen gefilte fish, which you just boil up. There is a discussion on the Kosher board. It really is delicious. We make both the traditional whitefish kind and the salmon version. They look very pretty as alternating slices on a platter. Yum.

                    1. re: p.j.

                      She was specific about rinsing the fish, and about not using the jellied broth from the jar. To each her own! Parsnips sound like a tasty addition, thanks for the idea.

                      The one thing I absolutely needed to learn from my grandma, her strudel, I learned last year. I took my kitchen scale with me and weighed all the ingredients as she made the dough, and wrote it down with sufficient instructions to allow me to replicate and to pass it on to other family members if requested. Have only done it once on my own but it was definitely as good as hers (if I can brag). The trick is in getting the dough rolled out super thin, and I probably wouldn't have done it thin enough had she not demonstrated. My aunt (my grandma's only daughter) knew how to make all my grandma's dishes but sadly she died of pancreatic cancer almost 5 years ago. I guess I should learn the matzo balls and actually her chicken soup is pretty fantastic. Her other signature dish is chopped liver which I can't abide and will never make. She's still using the same baking pans and lots of other kitchen equipment that she bought when she married my grandfather in 1932 at the ripe old age of 17. Not that she couldn't have afforded to replace some of these, but the Depression left its mark on that generation and she never saw the need or didn't want to indulge herself.

                    2. re: Debbie W.
                      La Dolce Vita

                      This re-cooked gefilte fish technique intrigues me. I am no fan of gefilte, but I would definitely give it another try using this technique.

                      Actually, this thread inspires me to consider serving gefilte fish in bite-sized portions, with toothpicks, as appetizers at our Seder. My question is, what can I dollop them with that will enhance the flavor of the gefilte, but also make them contemporary, gourmet-ish appetizers?

                      One possibility is the beet-horseradish mixture I've tried from the refrigerator section at Whole Foods, maybe with a slice of cucumber to boot. Then I'm thinking a smudge of beet mayonnaise might be good. My ideas end here because I have never been a gefilte lover.

                      Anybody want to suggest some toppings?

                    3. I've had best results by using a mix (usually Horowitz Margareten) and substituting shmaltz (warm) for the oil.
                      My mother's always came out best with schmatlz. The one or two times a year, a little is OK.