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I've come across occasionally mentions of savoury meringues with flavours such as beetroot. How are these made? What is used as a substitute for the sugar?

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4 Answers 4

The eggs whites in traditional meringues are used to spread the sugar into a thin foam that is then dried in the oven (or dehydrator) leaving behind the sugar structure and some proteins from the eggs. To make a meringue you need something that dissolves to tangle up with those proteins. I would guess that the beet meringues from Café Atlantico are made with beet powder replacing the sugar with the goat cheese in the middle adding to the sense of savory.

I have never made savory meringues, but if I were to experiment I would mix freshly whipped eggs whites with sugar to those created by reducing a savory liquid and then adding powder egg whites to it.

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Well, you could always take a bite out of Adria's apple and just make foams directly from whatever liquid you wish to use (which may or may not be egg white; I'd advise against it. Why dilute your flavour?). Then add methylcellulose to provide you with the matrix you need for stability, and a standard ISI whipped cream dispenser will foam your product.

So for example, you could make a beetroot juice (250g) boiled with 50g sugar and 50g water, then cooled. Add methylcellulose 8g (2.2% by weight, using Methocel F50). Blend well. The recipe I have (for a carrot foam) calls for it to then be whipped in a stand mixer to stiff peaks, spread on a sheet and dehydrated for 5 hours. I imagine you could extrude from a standard ISI instead, probably charged twice with NO2.

Oh, as an added bonus, this would allow you to make completely vegan 'meringue' as well. Use a different liquid, add a touch of vanilla.

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And when you make this is has a similar consistency to meringue? How thick do you spread it to dry in 5 hours? I'm guessing when you're spreading it out to dehydrate you can adjust the thickness and vary the dehydration time? – nunu Sep 23 '10 at 12:52
I haven't made this, it's an adaptation of a recipe from – daniel Sep 23 '10 at 17:41

I don't believe that sugar is required to make meringues come out properly. I don't see any reason that you couldn't go without it altogether.

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Sugar is extremely helpful to prevent the meringue from collapsing by bonding with the proteins in the egg white. If not used, it will be extra important to get some acid (lemon juice or cream of tartar, for example) into the meringue for stability and strength. – justkt Sep 20 '10 at 19:23
I would be very interested to see what happened if you baked whipped egg white. I would expect that @Martha is absolutely right, and the foam would collapse. I'd like to see that proven experimentally, though! – Tom Anderson Sep 10 '11 at 12:44

Sugar is crucial to making meringues!! It is what helps the chemical reaction with the egg whites and helps create that beautiful fluffy texture. However, I've come to own a fabulous book called "meringue magic" by Alisa Morov(who invented savoury meringues I believe). Amongst amazing savoury recipes she says you can reduce sugar to a certain amount but can never do without it. But the spices and salt make it a distinctively savory meringue.

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While adding sugar changes the texture somewhat, you can certainly beat eggwhites into a fluffy mass without sugar. In fact, the change in texture is towards less fluffiness, not more. – rumtscho Apr 27 at 9:49
certainly, but it will not create a meringue, just beaten egg whites. – Monica Apr 27 at 10:05
if you have ever made meringues, i'm sure we can agree that the texture changes more than "somewhat" when you add the sugar :) – Monica Apr 27 at 10:07
I guess it depends on what you consider worthy of the term "meringue". If you insist on a very specific texture (small regular holes, slightly gooey), then you have to use sugar, yes. But people tend to apply the word to all sorts of beaten egg whites, and if we use this meaning, then they don't require sugar. – rumtscho Apr 27 at 12:56
The thing is, I was talking about the classic definition of what a meringue is. – Monica Apr 28 at 9:57

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