Food tempering isn’t just used for chocolate. In fact, the word "temper" has Latin, French and old English roots, and refers to controlling or moderating temperature. Tempering is therefore relevant to many aspects of cooking. But even in the context of food production, the food tempering process can refer to different things. Here are three types of food tempering processes you should know about.
3 Different Tempering Processes
1. Tempering Sauces
For food producers who make sauces and soups (or even ice-cream), this tempering process will stop your sauces from curdling when you add a cold protein product (like cream or eggs from the fridge) to the mix.
Curdling occurs when the sudden heat from your sauce causes the proteins in the cream to break down and lump together. By tempering your sauces, you’ll control curdling and even out any sudden temperature changes to stop proteins from clumping up.
So before you go adding cream to your sauce, follow this tempering process:
- Put your cream (or other cold ingredient) in a heatproof bowl
- Slowly add a small amount (a few ladles) of your sauce (which is presumably hot) to the cream
- Stir or whisk the mixture together briskly
- Add the mixture to the rest of your sauce
Tempering uses a small amount of sauce to bring up the temperature of the cream at a reasonably quick rate. If you’re still experiencing curdling using this technique, you may need to add the sauce more slowly to your cream (during step 2); or if you’re finding curdling is happening during step 4, your overall mixture may still be too cold.
2. Tempering Spices
Tempering spices (referred to chaunk in Hindi or tadka in Punjabi) is a popular cooking technique used in South Asian countries, such as India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. And at OAFVC, we’ve seen the chefs at Sherni’s temper spices when they’re creating their award winning curry sauces.
The process uses hot oils and fats to extract the fragrant aroma of spices. The mixture is then added to dishes to enhance and add flavour.
If you’re interested in tempering spices, try this process:
- Heat hot oil or ghee in a pan
- Add spices to the hot ghee (or oil) and fry together
- Pour onto dish (e.g. curry sauce, or you can even add it on rice)
Experiment with different combinations of spices. While this will largely depend on what you’re trying to create, popular ingredients include garlic and chillies, which can be fried with curry leaves for a clean, fragrant tadka. The tadka can be added to sauces, or rice, and can even be used to fry pasta to create fusion dishes.
Just note, when tempering spices avoid using olive oil, as the low smoke point makes it less suitable for frying at the high temperatures needed to extract the flavours from spices.
3. Tempering Chocolate
The art of tempering chocolate is a whole process in itself and deserves a post of its own. But in a nutshell, tempering is one of the last processes done during chocolate production, and if done poorly, it can cause chocolate to be look lumpy; improperly tempered chocolate will also crumble instead of snap when it is broken.
This is attributed to large crystals being formed in cocoa butter, so tempering chocolate aims to reduce the size of the crystals (and improve the stability) by heating and cooling chocolate several times at different temperatures.
For product controlled tempering, OAFVC has a tempering room for rent ($40 per day), with temperature and humidity controls. This gives food businesses the freedom to experiment and create quality chocolate products at an affordable rate.
Free E-Book for Expanding Food Businesses
Food tempering is just one way you can experiment with creating new products in the kitchen, and there’s heaps of other low cost food ideas you should explore. At OAFVC we understand that growing your food business is more than just cooking, so we’ve made an e-book on the Top 3 Roadblocks to Expanding Your Small Business, to cover the business side of things. Download the e-book for free, to get tips on staff training and large-volume production, so you can expand your business efficiently.