Methylcellulose aka Methocel (E464) is purified cellulose and in molecular gastronomy is used in food applications where a thickener, stabiliser or dispersant is required. It dissolves in cold water and gels in hot water and has the unique ability to form a gel when heated above 45ºC which will then return to a liquid state upon cooling (approx 15ºC). Perfect for creating hot gels which melt in the mouth.
Methylcellulose can also be used to produce clear solid & flexible films. Films are produced by allowing a methylcellulose solution to dry out at a low temperature, thus preventing the solution from gelling. Other applications include emulsification and suspension. It create hot gels which will melt in the mouth. Use as a thickener and stabiliser in sauces and dressings or add to ice cream to help prevent ice crystals forming during freezing.
Methylcellulose dissolves in cold water and gels in hot water, but preparing a solution cannot be done with just cold water as it will not disperse very well and will lump. The best method to use methylcellulose is to add to hot water at approx 70ºC, then add twice the amount of cold water to the solution. This will bring the temperature of the solution down and the methylcellulose will dissolve. For example if your recipe uses 900ml of water, add the methylcellulose to 300 ml of hot water at approx 70ºC then add 600 ml of cold water. It should be refrigerated for approx 3 hours before using the solution to ensure all particles are dissolved. Hot gels using methylcellulose may sometimes be subject to a small amount of leaching but this can be controlled by adding xanthan gum to help bind the water and solution. The dosage rate is 0.5%-2.0%