Noted on Fat Emulsion and Lecithin

  • Notes on Fat Emulsions and Lecithin
  • 17 October 2020
  • by Eben van Tonder

Shortage of beef body fat necessitates us to look to alternatives.  Brings up the general topic of fat emulsions.

An alternative and a much cheaper product is beef kidney fat.  It is, however, too hard and needs to be mixed in with body fat (a softer fat). A smoother fat will be created.  Kidney fat also has a less desirable mouthfeel.

General Emulsion

Fat Emulsion Recipe

Kidney fat 2
Body fat (other) 1
Binder and water 3

Note on Binder

Binder + water 3
Binder 0.5 + water 2.5 

Fat Emulsion Procedure

Temperature is all important in the process. 

Equipment preparation

Warm the equipment up by running hot/ boiling water through before you start working. The process is extremely sensitive to heat.  Cold equipment pulls the water temp down too quickly.

  • Remove water and put boiling water (at least 80 deg C) into cutter/ emulsifier.
  • Add binding agent first.
  • Gradually adds fat.
  • Gradually add fat until smooth.
  • Rest overnight in chiller

Fat Emulsion Results

This should yield a firm fat emulsion the next morning to mince.

Additional Considerations

  • For better mincing, use a binder with better structure or add fibre
  • When doing the total emulsion, reduce temp to – 5 deg C. better mincing and binding.

What is There is No Body Fat Available?

Add pork skin.

Alternative Beef Body Fat Recipe

Kidney fat 5
Skin 2
Binder + water 3

Alternative Beef Body Fat Procedure

Warm bowl.
Put boiling skin into cutter/ emulsifier
Add boiling water
Add emulsifier
Add kidney fat

Alternative Beef Body Fat Notes

  • Skin must be extremely soft
  • Try not to use acid. Make soft by boiling
  • Acid makes skin rubbery
  • Acid residue also spoils emulsion
  • Cook longer if you leave out acid
  • Pressure cooker reduce time

General Notes

  1. More lecithin is better

In a study by Weet et al. (1994) it was found that “the viscosities of emulsions might be expected to be directly correlated with the amount and quality of the surfactant used as the emulsifier. For example, the viscosity of emulsions prepared with 0.1 to 2.5 g thermalized granular lecithin increased from about 1800 cps to 14,000 cps (Figure below). Stability to gravitational settling increased with increasing emulsifier content where essentially no settling was observed after several days (Figure below).”

2. Thermalized lecithin’s (granular, liquid and gum) vs non-thermalised and gum lecithin.

Weet et al. (1994) also found that “the viscosities of emulsions prepared with thermalized lecithins were indeed substantially higher than those prepared with the corresponding non-thermalized lecithin’s. Emulsions prepared with thermalized granular, liquid and gum lecithin’s were 153, 61 and 200% higher than those made with the corresponding non-thermalized materials, respectively (Figure below). In another example, it took 20 times more liquid lecithin in an emulsion for a viscosity that was approximately the same as that prepared with 0.5 g thermalized liquid lecithin (data not given).”

Further Reading


Weete, J., Betageri, S. Griffith, G. L.. 1994.   Improvement of lecithin as an emulsifier for water-in-oil emulsions by thermalization. July 1994. Journal of the American Oil Chemistry Society 71(7): 731-737. DOI 10.1007/BF02541430