Gluten-Free Chia Seed : Recipe Techniques
Using using Chia Seed "gel" and "slurry" and ice-cubes in GF Creations
Finally, I have gotten back to my blog and writing more about Chia Seed in Gluten-Free / Wheat-Free recipes! I love the Fall season, though I have been distracted lately by things that come with it: like raking. This is a long-planned followup discussion on Chia Recipes...
In June, I wrote a Gluten-Free Blog entry entitled Gluten-Free Chia Seeds : SuperFood Status (follow that link for prior discussion and where to acquire the product). Last time I introduced Chia Seed basics - like nutritional / diet information, and the texture and look and feel that should be expected. I also mentioned in my previous blog that Chia Seed is an amazing gluten-free recipe addition / ingredient, and I have used the Chia Seed to create some wheat-free / gluten-free baked goods and other food products that are convincingly like the "real" thing, if not better. Pancakes with such alterations are one of my regular favorites, but I have also gone much further with Chia in gluten-free recipes through a new approach I developed for incorporating the Chia with great success.
I have found that the results I can achieve through a particular use of Chia Seed in gluten-free recipes is nothing short of spectacular, and I want to share the approach with others here, hoping that perhaps it can make your gluten-free baking even better. I am not guaranteeing it will make *everything* better, but it has really helped quite a few of my recipes - even recipes that were already quite good - rise to an extraordinary level on the texture / mouth-feel scale, and on the health-scale too. It has worked wonders in gluten-free breads, gluten-free desserts, and all sorts of things.
Get ready to use a "chia slurry" in recipes...
Chia Slurry FormulationCreating a "chia slurry" is the key to using chia as an easy addition / substitution / alteration / modification ingredient in many recipes. This slurry will end up providing a gluten-like (i.e., "glue like") binding power to recipes while introducing additional moisture and "bounce", elasticity, sponginess, and the like, that you would otherwise associate with Gluten-containing products.
A slurry is quite simply a highly fluid mixture of water and finely divided material - in this case, that material is chia.
Pre-Hydrate the Chia Seed
We start by pre-hydrating our Chia Seed. I simply use between 1.5 and 2 TBSP (Tablespoons) Chia Seed per cup of water. The concentration can be varied, and will alter the recipe outcomes accordingly. Sometimes I want a thicker mixture, other times thinner. The amount of slurry I prepare depends on what I am baking, but for now, let's just say I have a few cups of water, and the corresponding proportion of Chia I mentioned...
Place the chia seed in a bowl, add water, and stir constantly for a while to make sure all seeds submerge in the water. Then, stir every few minutes for a while to make sure the seeds are evenly absorbing water as they expand like little pearl tapioca balls. Within 15-30 minutes, this hydration process is complete, resulting in the following:
Or, a bit closer look at the resulting hydrated Chia Seed mixture:
Now, place this hydrated Chia in a blender. I have my trusty VitaMixer for this task, which does a fine job of creating a slurry from the seeds. Here is the before and after look:
That is pretty much it! You have just created the Chia Slurry to be used in gluten-free recipes where you would otherwise use water, milk, or other liquids (note: some dry-ingredient amount-adjustments may be necessary to achieve optimal substitution and outcome results).
I process (i.e., grind / chop / pulverize) the hydrated Chia into a slurry immediately before I am going to use it in a recipe. I have found this keeps the suspension of particles most consistent, and also it tends to add another important baking element: a bit of air volume (quite useful in breads for example).
You can allow the pre-hydrated Chia Seed to sit around for hours, or days, if you desire, but wait until you are ready to use it in a recipe before mixing it into a slurry. In fact, if you use a lot of Chia in baking your gluten-free recipes, it is a good idea to keep a container of pre-hydrated chia seed in the fridge all ready to go (saves on hydration time later).
My next Gluten-Free Blog postings will discuss some particular recipe alterations using this Chia Slurry. If you can't wait, feel free to go for it and experiment with some recipe alterations yourself.
In the mean time, here's another use for the Chia Slurry that may inspire some inventive recipe creations too...
Frozen Chia Seed / Slurry Ice Cubes!
Another use I have for my slurry concoction that I created on a whim is chia-seed-ice-cubes. Just take that freshly-blended Chia-Seed Slurry and pour it into ice cube trays and immediately freeze.
These frozen chia-mix cubes have proven incredible in making smoother, creamier, dairy-free "shakes" or "smoothies" or slushies, or whatever. They add an amazing texture-smoothing / gelling quality that thickens up a drink without adding anything unhealthy to the recipe; giving frozen drinks some "creaminess" without any cream.
The reason I make the chia ice cubes (instead of just adding regular water-only ice cubes to a blender with pre-hydrated chia seed) is a simple one: achieving optimal coldness and lowest temperature for best shakes, smoothies, and frozen drinks. If you don't freeze the chia like this first, do not expect the same results :)
Have you ever heard of a "diet milkshake"?
Well, get ready for one..., and here is a preview picture of it, my Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Dairy-Free "Diet Milkshake", that I will also post the very simple recipe for quite soon. The funny thing was that, although this recipe seemed timely just a few days ago (when it was 70-degrees out!), it is now near freezing outdoors. Well, either way, I still enjoy my frozen drinks year round :)
I do not mean to tease people by not posting additional recipes this time with the above slurry-making-recipe and discussion, but rather I wanted to keep the baked-goods and frozen-products recipes cleanly apart from the slurry-recipe for organization purposes here on my Gluten-Free Blog (as I will be referencing this blog again for sure).
GLUTEN-FREE RECIPES USING CHIA SEEDHere are links to a couple recipes using this chia gel / slurry and ice-cubes to get you started:
- Dairy-Free Diet-Milkshake Recipe : Chocolate Pumpkin Spice and Gluten-Free
- Gluten-Free Banana Bread - using Chia Seed Slurry and Isolated Whey Protein - variation to the recipe in our cookbook.
Also, check out my prior blog about Gluten-Free Chia Seed for some background information on this ingredient and where to acquire it if you do not already have a supplier.
Continue to read this Gluten-Free Blog for all sorts of gluten-free recipes, product-reviews, and related information. In addition, visit my Gluten-Free Recipes Site where many of the recipes I have featured on this blog are available for free.