© Denzil Green
Lecithin is an emulsifier that also helps a product to retain moisture.
It used to be made from egg yolk but is now almost always made from soybean. Sometimes this is said to be healthier: it seems to depend on whether eggs are good or bad for us in that particular phase of the moon. In any event, it is certainly always cheaper to produce and sell using soybeans, and it works just as well. Lecithin can also be made from canola oil, though this is being done in only limited quantities because canola contains only half as much Lecithin as does soy, making it cost-ineffective.
Lecithin can be bought in liquid form, in powder, or as moist yellow granules.
Commercially, Lecithin is used in peanut butter, chocolate, powdered mixes, margarine, shortening, etc. It is also used in anti-stick cooking sprays such as spam.
It can be used to reduce the amount of fat in recipes and products. You will find some creamy dressing recipes calling for it, as a way to reduce the fat in the recipe.
Lecithin occurs naturally in our bodies and in certain food items. Many people take it as a health supplement, but there is not yet any medical evidence to back this.
If you are cooking for someone with egg allergies, you will want to check the label of your Lecithin to make sure it has been made from soybeans.
Lecithin was discovered by a French scientist named Maurice Gobley in 1846. He found it in egg yolk and so in 1850 named it after the Greek name for egg yolk, “lekithos”.
Pronounced “less – i – thin”