Emulsifying Particles and Proteins

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About
Of the various yolk components, two in particular provide most of the emulsifying power. One is the low-density lipoproteins or LDLs (the same LDLs that circulate in our blood and whose levels are measured in blood tests because they carry potentially artery-blocking cholesterol). LDLs are particles made up of emulsifying proteins, phospholipids, and cholesterol, all surrounding a core of fat molecules. The intact LDL particles appear to be more effective emulsifiers than any of their components. The other major emulsifying particles are the larger yolk granules, which contain both LDLs and HDLs (the “good-cholesterol” high-density lipoproteins are even more effective emulsifiers than LDL) as well as dispersed emulsifying protein, phosvitin. Yolk granules are so large that they can’t cover a droplet surface very well, but when they’re exposed to moderate concentrations of salt they fall apart into their separate LDLs, HDLs, and proteins, and these are very effective indeed.