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What is Hydration?

Many of the ingredients used in molecular gastronomy need to be hydrated before they will work. Hydration is simply the process of adding water to the ingredient. Just as when you add flour to water to make a gravy you often need to bring the liquid to a specific temperature to ensure the ingredient will work properly.

In its simplest terms, hydration is the process of supplying or adding water to form a hydrate. Technically speaking, hydration is the process of forming a solution through the interaction of solvents with molecules of solutes. Water added to an element that forms a compound is known as a hydrate. The process works by adding hydrogen ions to other molecules. This process aims to add moisture or create a fluid balance.

Various liquids may be used as a solvent, however water is the most common liquid employed. Hydration is a common process for many culinary dishes. A number of cooking ingredients are hydrocolloids which need water to take effect. Examples of such ingredients include starches and gels. Many of these are either dissolved or mixed with water before it is employed as a stabilizer, thickener and others.