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Author Topic: Am I going too far with MAE?  (Read 941 times)

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Offline csnack

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Am I going too far with MAE?
« on: July 11, 2017, 11:23:23 PM »
(MAE = Microwave Assisted Extraction, for any lurkers who haven't heard of it)

I've read a lot here about the MAE method. Some guys microwave 45 seconds and others up to 2.5 minutes and usually somewhere around 50% power. But after an MAE round today (which hasn't been added to the tomatoes yet) I started thinking that maybe I'm microwaving too long and wanted to know what you guys think.

Some time ago Jsaurus scared up a great MAE sauce that he was kind enough to share in various posts here. I vary the quantities sometimes, but the ingredients are always the same and today I did this:
(These go into the MAE)
1 Tbsp evoo
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp crushed fennel seed
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1/4 tsp fresh garlic grated on micro plane

(These get mixed directly w/ tomatoes sans MAE)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1/8 tsp fresh ground black pepper

I microwave @ 50% power from 1.5 - 2 minutes, stopping to check/stir after 1 minute. If I don't cover the coffee mug slightly w/ plastic wrap the oil will sometimes basically fry the oregano leaves and presumably the other herbs/spices to a bit crispy. It doesn't smell burnt or anything, but do you think the herb mixture is essentially ruined or at least not optimal at that point? Should I be microwaving uncovered (for less time) or covered?
I also notice that at about 1 minute into the MAE when I stop to stir, the fragrance is really popping at that point, and when microwaving further the fragrance gets fainter and fainter, ultimately not nearly as popping as it was 1 minute in. Have I microwaved too long in that case?

I'm conflicted because on the one hand - and I'm certainly no expert on infusing oils - it reasons that the more it cooks/microwaves, within reason, the more oils get extracted from the herbs/spices and thus, theoretically, the more flavorful the oil becomes from the infusion. On the other hand though I'm concerned with diminishing returns if not ruin, by just overdoing it in microwaving the life and flavor out of the herbs/spices. Because as I said, about a 1 minute in @ 50% power in <i>my</i> microwave, the fragrance is really popping and it gets fainter the more it gets microwaved beyond that.

So when should I really be stopping the MAE? Should I take a very minimal approach and immediately stop once fragrance has begun popping? Am I getting more flavor/extraction the longer it microwaves or are things just depreciating beyond the initial fragrance pop? My sauce never tastes bad regardless, but of course I don't want it hindered in any way. Thanks!

Offline csnack

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Re: Am I going too far with MAE?
« Reply #1 on: July 12, 2017, 02:51:25 AM »
I guess these posts cover most of it. I'm still wondering if the initial fragrance pop and then the fragrance getting fainter after microwaving a little more means that I've gone too far and killed the herbs/spices. In any case I'm pretty certain the oregano and fennel et al shouldn't be allowed to fry to a crisp in the oil. I've since put that MAE concoction I made earlier down the sink. I have my first ever 6-in-1 can I was gonna add it to, but f that I'm starting over.
According to the posts below the temp that's reached during the MAE is not to exceed 160f. So I made another MAE concoction and made sure the temp did not exceed that, and came in just under that, <i>but</i> the fragrance didn't ever get a chance to pop in keeping the temp that low. I had to nuke @ 20% power to keep the temp under 160f. Usually I nuke @ 40% for about one minute and the concoction is really fragrant then.
Now I'm wondering if it's more important that the MAE temp never exceeds 160f which means the fragrance won't be as popping, or if it's better to nuke until you get that strong fragrance regardless of the temp. Thoughts?
It should be noted that November's MAE instructions involve the use of water rather than the oil used here; not sure if that makes a difference in regard to the 160f temp; I just know oil heats up faster than water.

https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=3735.msg31879.msg#31879

https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=3735.msg31883.msg#31883

https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=3735.msg31887.msg#31887
« Last Edit: July 12, 2017, 08:26:29 AM by csnack »

Offline jsaras

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Re: Am I going too far with MAE?
« Reply #2 on: July 12, 2017, 10:20:14 AM »
(MAE = Microwave Assisted Extraction, for any lurkers who haven't heard of it)

I've read a lot here about the MAE method. Some guys microwave 45 seconds and others up to 2.5 minutes and usually somewhere around 50% power. But after an MAE round today (which hasn't been added to the tomatoes yet) I started thinking that maybe I'm microwaving too long and wanted to know what you guys think.

Some time ago Jsaurus scared up a great MAE sauce that he was kind enough to share in various posts here. I vary the quantities sometimes, but the ingredients are always the same and today I did this:
(These go into the MAE)
1 Tbsp evoo
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp crushed fennel seed
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1/4 tsp fresh garlic grated on micro plane

(These get mixed directly w/ tomatoes sans MAE)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1/8 tsp fresh ground black pepper

I microwave @ 50% power from 1.5 - 2 minutes, stopping to check/stir after 1 minute. If I don't cover the coffee mug slightly w/ plastic wrap the oil will sometimes basically fry the oregano leaves and presumably the other herbs/spices to a bit crispy. It doesn't smell burnt or anything, but do you think the herb mixture is essentially ruined or at least not optimal at that point? Should I be microwaving uncovered (for less time) or covered?
I also notice that at about 1 minute into the MAE when I stop to stir, the fragrance is really popping at that point, and when microwaving further the fragrance gets fainter and fainter, ultimately not nearly as popping as it was 1 minute in. Have I microwaved too long in that case?

I'm conflicted because on the one hand - and I'm certainly no expert on infusing oils - it reasons that the more it cooks/microwaves, within reason, the more oils get extracted from the herbs/spices and thus, theoretically, the more flavorful the oil becomes from the infusion. On the other hand though I'm concerned with diminishing returns if not ruin, by just overdoing it in microwaving the life and flavor out of the herbs/spices. Because as I said, about a 1 minute in @ 50% power in <i>my</i> microwave, the fragrance is really popping and it gets fainter the more it gets microwaved beyond that.

So when should I really be stopping the MAE? Should I take a very minimal approach and immediately stop once fragrance has begun popping? Am I getting more flavor/extraction the longer it microwaves or are things just depreciating beyond the initial fragrance pop? My sauce never tastes bad regardless, but of course I don't want it hindered in any way. Thanks!

FWIW, I microwave at 30% power for 2:30. 
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Offline jkb

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Re: Am I going too far with MAE?
« Reply #3 on: July 12, 2017, 10:30:43 AM »
I only microwave garlic.  I add enough water to barely cover and microwave until it just starts to boil (30- 45s).

Offline csnack

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Re: Am I going too far with MAE?
« Reply #4 on: July 12, 2017, 10:50:28 AM »
FWIW, I microwave at 30% power for 2:30.
So you don't worry about the temp per se? Even @ 30%, in 2.5 minutes with oil I'm sure it's beyond 160f. When you pull it from the microwave what is the condition of the mixture; is it sizzling? Mine usually is a bit, with a strong fragrance after a minute at 40%.

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Offline csnack

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Re: Am I going too far with MAE?
« Reply #5 on: July 12, 2017, 10:51:42 AM »
I only microwave garlic.  I add enough water to barely cover and microwave until it just starts to boil (30- 45s).
So are you just sprinkling on oregano prior to bake then (assuming you even use it)?

Offline jkb

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Re: Am I going too far with MAE?
« Reply #6 on: July 12, 2017, 11:21:51 AM »
So are you just sprinkling on oregano prior to bake then (assuming you even use it)?

Sometimes.  Other times it goes in an uncooked sauce ahead of time.  Sometimes I add it to a cooked sauce base or a cooked sauce.

Offline jsaras

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Re: Am I going too far with MAE?
« Reply #7 on: July 12, 2017, 10:22:43 PM »
So you don't worry about the temp per se? Even @ 30%, in 2.5 minutes with oil I'm sure it's beyond 160f. When you pull it from the microwave what is the condition of the mixture; is it sizzling? Mine usually is a bit, with a strong fragrance after a minute at 40%.

I've never measured the temperature, but it's hot.  I'm pretty sure that microwave ovens don't actually cook at different temperatures, they just modulate "on and off" during the bake time.  So 2:30 at 30% power is pretty close to the same as full power for 45 seconds.  Also, microwave ovens vary in their power ratings.  The bottom line is that if you have a bake time/power setting that works out better, then by all means use it.
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Offline norma427

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Re: Am I going too far with MAE?
« Reply #8 on: July 12, 2017, 11:25:44 PM »
I have upped that MAE method of using the microwave to 4 times at regular power for 25 seconds with the olive oil.  The reason I upped the microwave time was because Tom Lehmann posted that using fresh garlic in oil can be dangerous.  I forget where Tom's post is of what the temperature should read when it would be safe.  Also use other ingredients besides garlic and oil.

Norma

Offline werty20

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Re: Am I going too far with MAE?
« Reply #9 on: July 13, 2017, 03:43:36 AM »
can i do it using oven ?

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Offline csnack

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Re: Am I going too far with MAE?
« Reply #10 on: July 13, 2017, 05:24:52 AM »
can i do it using oven ?
Well this post https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=3735.msg31887.msg#31887 explains why microwaving is different from, and supposedly more beneficial than just regular heating/infusion like on a stove. If you don't have a microwave I'd use the stove top over low heat rather than the oven, but in that case of course you're not doing a real MAE since there'd be no microwaves involved. That's not to say though that infusing the oil on the stove wouldn't be just as good, and actually that's how Kenji does it for his NY sauce, which I've also made, and it works very well.
This is the problem when you're cooking in your kitchen and doing things a certain way for some time with good results and then you go and read some science behind what you've been doing and it tries to tell you you've been doing it wrong. As for me I think I'm gonna go back to not worrying about the temp too much and just nuking until the fragrance is really happening.
I have upped that MAE method of using the microwave to 4 times at regular power for 25 seconds with the olive oil.  The reason I upped the microwave time was because Tom Lehmann posted that using fresh garlic in oil can be dangerous.  I forget where Tom's post is of what the temperature should read when it would be safe.  Also use other ingredients besides garlic and oil.

Norma
That's a good point about the garlic, Norma. I had too learned that some time ago, but forgot to take it into consideration when trying to obey science in not exceeding the 160f. And previously when MAEing I was always conscious of the fact that the garlic is incidentally getting sufficiently cooked in that oil along with the main infusion.

Offline norma427

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Re: Am I going too far with MAE?
« Reply #11 on: July 13, 2017, 08:12:10 AM »
csnack,

When I was very new to making sauces for pizzas a local pizzeria man told me to basically do something like an MAE on the stove with an olive oil that had a high smoke point.  He said to  sauté the garlic and some of the other ingredients in a pan on the stove, but to keep the heat low so it didn't ruin any of the ingredients.  That worked, but not as easy as November's MAE method.

Norma

Offline bigMoose

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Re: Am I going too far with MAE?
« Reply #12 on: July 13, 2017, 09:11:14 AM »
I have upped that MAE method of using the microwave to 4 times at regular power for 25 seconds with the olive oil. ...
Norma, might be a typo above, or I might be dense this morning! :)  I am trying to decipher "to 4 times"

Also was this Tom's post on garlic/onion temperature that you were referring to?
https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=23273.msg236067#msg236067
Quote
Just as an FYI, both onion and garlic contain a compound that will catalyze the pectin in the tomato causing it to gel/thicken to the point where it takes on the appearance of tomato jelly rather than pizza sauce. Yes, it does the same thing to pasta sauce too but because we typically cook a pasta sauce we add enough water to compensate for the thickening and evaporation so we don't usually recognize it as a problem. To correct the problem in pizza sauce, or any tomato based sauce all you need to do is to "nuke" the onion and/or garlic in a little water until it comes to a boil (you're actually looking for a temperature of about 180F) but 212F, or close to that won't hurt anything, assuming you're at or reasonably close to sea level. Once the onion/garlic is heated to this point it can be added to the sauce without visions of it turning into tomato jelly.
« Last Edit: July 13, 2017, 09:36:24 AM by bigMoose »
All the best, Dave

Offline norma427

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Re: Am I going too far with MAE?
« Reply #13 on: July 13, 2017, 09:21:01 AM »
Norma, might be a typo above, or I might be dense this morning! :)  I am trying to decipher "to 4 times"

Dave,

Maybe I made a typo but do microwave on high power 4 times and maybe 5 for 20 seconds each time.  I give it a short rest after each time it is microwaved and watch what it looks like.  My microwave might not microwave on how power like another members.

Norma

Offline bigMoose

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Re: Am I going too far with MAE?
« Reply #14 on: July 13, 2017, 09:37:29 AM »
Oh, I got it now...  ;D It was me being dense... do it 4 times!  Got to love getting older... simple things get so complicated.  :-D
All the best, Dave

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Offline csnack

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Re: Am I going too far with MAE?
« Reply #15 on: July 13, 2017, 10:39:05 AM »


I have upped that MAE method of using the microwave to 4 times at regular power for 25 seconds with the olive oil.  The reason I upped the microwave time was because Tom Lehmann posted that using fresh garlic in oil can be dangerous.

Norma



Norma, might be a typo above, or I might be dense this morning! :)  I am trying to decipher "to 4 times"

Also was this Tom's post on garlic/onion temperature that you were referring to?
https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=23273.msg236067#msg236067

But other than the textural aspect there's also a safety concern having to do with botulism I think it is when infusing oil with the garlic. IIRC the real threat was when you'd infuse some oil with it and then store it at room temp for days. I think I read even refrigerating it could be a problem if you kept it too long. In my case yesterday with my MAE mix I let it get to room temp and then processed it with the tomatoes and then straight to the fridge to meld until Friday. I'll make a pizza w/ some and freeze the rest, so I shouldn't be getting killed off it.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but as I'm understanding it, cooking the garlic in the oil then does nothing to neutralize the chance of botulism, but is in fact what actually facilities it and, cooking the garlic at a higher temp into the oil; while helping to prevent the jellying texture effect, does <i>not</i> negate the risk for botulism.
But then we're not leaving our MAE oil sitting around for days on the counter either, and I also read somewhere that someone said at some point some place, that when mixing the fresh garlic w/ tomatoes there's something in the tomatoes that neutralizes the risk of the garlic causing any health concerns, but I haven't looked into it.

Offline norma427

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Re: Am I going too far with MAE?
« Reply #16 on: July 13, 2017, 01:43:01 PM »
csnack,

These are some posts from Tom Lehmann about garlic in oil at:

Reply 12 https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=25423.msg256985#msg256985

Reply 2 https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=46550.msg466848#msg466848

Reply 14 https://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=44442.msg449781#msg449781

Right now I can find the other ones about garlic in pizza sauces.

Norma

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