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Mar 7, 2010 09:48 AM

How to emulsify a dip?

Are you knowledgeable about emulsification? If so, I'd love to hear from you! I need your expert advice on solving my garlic dip emulsification problem

I LOVE the garlic dip I sometimes have in the great middle eastern restaurants around the Bay Area, and I'm trying to make it at home. I know what the ingredients are, and have come really close to making something that I think is perfect in balance and taste, but unfortunately I can't get it to emulsify enough so that it doesn’t break down quickly when at room temperature.

Here's what I'm using:
Chopped, fresh garlic
Lemon juice
Olive oil
Pinch salt
Pinch pepper

I used to put everything in the food processor, but I read that it makes the ingredients too hot which leads to separation. Now, I grind up the garlic and garlic with the lemon juice into a paste with an immersion blender, then pour the oil in a slow stream. It binds up, turns white, and seems to emulsify really well, ending up with about the viscosity of regular yellow mustard – which is perfect.

However, the problem is that at room temperature, it tends to start breaking down, becoming more fluid and eventually separating and looking not-so-good. The garlic dip I've had in the restaurants can be served as a dip in a bowl on the table without separating.

The trick is I know I have the ingredients right – they're not using eggs or mayo or lecithin – so how can I process this differently so that it emulsifies? I'm looking for a change in the way I make the dip, not in the ingredients.

Note: due to my children's several food allergies, I'm unable to use lecithin, or eggs, or may, which I've already been told could help.

Thanks for your advice!

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  1. First of all, I wouldn't worry about the "overheating" in the food processor. Frankly, I don't believe it's a problem - except for the preparation of bread dough, I've never found it to be a factor in my cooking experience.
    It looks to me like there's an ingredient missing from your recipe. I would expect to see yogurt in there somewhere.
    Try increasing the amount of lemon juice and don't make a lemon juice/garlic paste. Just chop your solid ingredients, put them into the food processor with your lemon juice (and yogurt if you decide the try that) and start the machine at a "blending" speed (don't run it too fast) and drizzle the olive oil in very very slowly. Mix only until all ingredients come together at the consistency you seek.
    Refrigerate, in a covered pre-chilled container, for at least an hour before serving.

      1. re: Bryn

        I second ...also lecithin.But I think I would do it like mayo and use yolk and mustard, Heat wont be a problem.

        1. re: celeryroot

          Her Child is allergic to eggs, lecithin, and mayo.... Lecithin is from soy not mustard.

      2. I agree with Todao that the food processor is probably not a factor. Though for a smoother emulsion, a blender may be better. I like to add all the ingredients gradually as the blender is running. Add a slice of white bread, crust removed and soaked in water.

        Are nuts okay? A handful of almonds or cashews that have been ground to a fine powder will also help build a more stable scaffold.

        1 Reply
        1. re: phofiend

          Agree with adding a slice of soaked bread for a binder, and try a regular blender, rather than a FP (which will not create heat enough to break the dip, that's not the problem) or immersion blender.
          As the OP has nothing in her dip to emulsify the lemon/oil mixture, using the higher blender speed over the FP or immersion will create a more stable emulsification, but it's not going to be completely stable and may continue to break down after time. It's the nature of the beast. The bread will add that needed stability.

        2. Glice could work; you add it to the oil first before incorporating the aqueous ingredients. You can buy it from La Tienda.