You’ve Been Whisking Things Wrong

When I was first married (gosh, that’s been almost 10 years ago!) I was trying to make my husband a banana cream pie with real whipped cream. I am a real whipped cream girl through and through. I try everything in my power to use the real stuff and not use Cool Whip. And in this case it was nothing but the best for my new hubby so I knew I had to whip up some whipping cream without a hand mixer or Kitchen Aid. I had to do it by hand.

I had never done it this way before and I didn’t know what I was in for. It probably took me about 20-25 minutes of whisking by hand to get it to that perfect consistency you want and my hand felt like it was going to fall off.

I can remember this like it was yesterday because it was such a silly, traumatic experience for newly married me. Little did I know that I could have cut that time in half: even by using that same exact whisk I was using.

Well, not too long ago the folks at America’s Test Kitchen ran an experiment and proved, once and for all, that there is a right way and wrong way to whisk different foods (for example: whipped cream, meringue, vinaigrettes, etc.) Here are some tidbits of what they discovered.

Side to Side Whisking is the Way to Go

The folks at ATK found that for all applications they tested, whisking side to side is a reliable way to get whatever result you’re after: aerated egg whites or heavy cream, or a vinaigrette that’ll hold together for a little while. Simply stirring in a circular direction in the bowl is relatively useless. That’s because the back-and-forth nature of side-to-side whisking increases the amount of “shear force” applied to whatever’s being mixed.

As the whisk moves in one direction across the bowl, the liquid starts to move with it. But then the whisk is dragged in the opposite direction, exerting force against the rest of the liquid still moving towards it. Because stirring and beating take the liquid in the same direction of the whisk, they produce less shear force.

So the bottom line is you want to agitate the stuff as much as possible. And side to side whisking will do this.

The One Use for Circular Whisking

There is only one use for circular whisking and that would be with egg whites. Whisking in a “looping” motion that lifts your liquid out of the bowl is great for egg whites because the viscosity of egg whites helps them cling to the tines of the whisk, allowing the protein structure to trap more air.

Pro Tip: Rotate the Bowl

If you want things to go even faster, whisk side-to-side with your one hand and use your non-dominant hand to rotate the bowl around while you whisk. It further increases the level of agitation, shortening the time from start to finish.

What is the Best Whisk to Use?

There are few different kind of whisks out there, many of which look cool (like a ball whisk or coil whisk) but are unnecessary. The basic balloon whisk is your best all-purpose friend to have on hand for incorporating air into egg whites and heavy cream, good for mixing salad dressings, or even good for whisking dry ingredients that you’re too lazy to sift ;)

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    Mary Richardson
    Weekly Newsletter Contributor since 2014
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