Rangkat Hydro: What is it & why is it used in cooking?

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Have you ever wondered how industrially made sweets and cakes are able to look much fresher and vibrant than anything you’ve made from home? Or have you simply been following a jalebi recipe and been disappointed to find your finished product has come out brown? The secret ingredient you may be looking for is rangkat hydro powder.

What is rangkat hydro powder though? How is it used in cooking? And most importantly, is it actually safe to use?

What Is Rangkat Hydro Powder?

Rangkat Hydro consists of white salt crystalline powders that are soluble in water. It is often used in food industries due to its ability to improve the visual appearance of food. In addition, it also acts as a preservative.

Like peanut oil rangkat hydro is very commonly used in the cuisine of both India and Pakistan, although it is also used in China. However, it is also used in food industries outside of Asia. Additionally, outside of these industries it is also commonly used as a reducing and bleaching agent.

Rangkat Hydro: What is it & why is it used in cooking?

Whilst rangkat hydro is a commonly used name for this powder, it is not its only one. It is sometimes known as either just rangkat or just hydro. However, this substance is also known as Rongalite, Sodium Hydrosulfite, Sodium Dithionite or Sodium Hydroxymethanesulfinate.

How Is Rangkat Hydro Powder Used In Cooking?

Within the context of cooking, Sodium Dithionite or Rangkat Hydro powder is often used in food industries due to its souring, buffering and chelating agents. Additionally, it also doubles as a bleaching agent both within the food industry and outside of it. Aside from serving multiple purposes though it is also soluble in water it is used in, making it very versatile.

What is a Souring Agent?

Souring agents are often used in middle eastern or Asian countries such as India. These souring agents are often used in particularly sweet or spicy recipes. This is done to reduce their potency. 

What is a Buffering Agent?

Buffering agents as the name suggests, provide a buffer to certain recipes. Within the context of cooking, this usually means that it helps food to maintain its acidity. An example of this is the cornmeal in baking powder that prevents the other ingredients from reacting prematurely.

What are Chelating Agents? 

Chelating agents, also known as chelation agents protect food from chemical and biological reactions that will cause degradation. Fundamentally this makes them a preservative in food.

Will Rangkat Hydro Powder Make Jalebi That is Crispy?

If you are looking for a method of making jalebi that is crispy quickly, then rangkat hydro is a potential option. Jalebis are made from fried flour that has been dipped in a sugar syrup. This syrup is often saffron flavoured. 

Rangkat Hydro: What is it & why is it used in cooking?

However, when rangkat isn’t used the saffron syrup often loses its vibrant orange colour when exposed to oil. As such, rangkat is often added to batter into either the batter/mixing bowl before frying or the syrup itself in order to preserve this colouring. Along with maintaining the colour of the syrup, rangkat also helps to keep the fried jalebi batter nice and crispy.

Is Sodium Hydrosulfite/Sodium Dithionite Harmful?

Whether rangkat hydro is harmful to you is quite a controversial subject. Whilst it can be used in industrial settings, there are versions that are deemed to be a food-grade product. 

Additionally, along with being used in food, it is also used somewhat commonly in cosmetic high dye removers. This use, however, has led to further controversy since it can create formaldehyde. 

Due to this and other anecdotal evidence, many consider rangkat to be carcinogenic. However, the level of carcinogenic properties is not yet fully understood.

From a personal perspective though, I do love cooking and always want to try to get the best out of my dishes. However, if the cost of doing so is potentially toxic to my health, personally I don’t think that it’s worth it.