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Handbook of Hydrocolloids - 2nd edition

  • Title: Handbook of Hydrocolloids
  • Edited: G.O.Phillips & P.A.Williams
  • Price: £175.00/US$330/€220
  • ISBN-978 1 84569 414 2
  • Published: Woodhead Publishing Ltd


The new handbook of hydrocolloids from Woodhead Publishing; large, broad ranging and thorough. An excellent addition to the library of anyone having to deal with a broad range of hydrocolloids.


The nearest competition to this book would be "Food polysaccharides and their applications" by A.M Stephen. However there are some major differences. This book is broader in its coverage taking in a wider variety of proteins and some broader application chapters on films, coatings and the developing health market for hydrocolloids. One of the biggest differences is in the authorship: most of the chapters from "The Handbook of Hydrocolloids" have been written by prominent members of industry, people who have worked in research for many years but in an industrial context. Whereas "Food Polysaccharides" was largely written by academics. This is a generalisation and neither book is consistent in their approach or authorship but I think its a fair assessment. For example the chapter on carrageenan in "Food Polysaccharides" is a largely academic in content with a brief paragraph on manufacturing that is, at best, misleading. The paragraph on applications is also very weak. The "Handbook of Hydrocolloids" has much better sections on manufacturing and applications but is weaker in detailed academic content. Both books are good, but they will appeal to a different audience.

The "Handbook of Hydrocolloids" provides a decent reference section after each chapter which it a suitable starting points for further research. The "Handbook of Hydrocolloids" does a good job in trying to present a uniform front, which is difficult in a book compiled from a wide range of authors. This book does look like the authors were at asked to stick to an outline and most have complied, this gives the book a more consistent feel than you generally get from this type of publication.

The book is very food focused and therefore gums with predominantly industrial applications, such as HPMC, tend to be skipped over quite briefly. Also we noted a few quirks such as the inclusion of methylethylcellulose, a product that has not been produced for at least ten years.

Who is going to want to read this book? Well those who work in the area of food applications, those who work developing blends and systems largely based on hydrocolloids and anyone working in a development environment where hydrocolloids are commonly used. If you are starting a PhD looking into the details of hydrocolloid gelling mechanisms then get the A.M Stephen book, if you live in the world of mortal beings and need to know which gum to choose to fix your problem then get the "Handbook of Hydrocolloids". It might not answer your question but it will at least give you a good starting point and enough information to know who to ask and to know what to ask. This is probably the best book on hydrocolloids for the food technologist available. And with that I have changed my mind; the closest book on the market to this book is not the A.M Stephen book but "Hydrocolloids - practical guides for the food industry" by the late A.C Hoefler. The Hoefler book was a thin 111 pages and provided a cursory introduction to the subject; the "handbook of hydrocolloids" is a huge 924 pages. Hoefler very much provided an introduction, "The Handbook of Hydrocolloids" is a serious reference book that you will want to use time and time again. As it says in the preface "It was not meant to be a textbook, but a convenient reference" and in that aim the editors have been very successful.


An excellent addition to any hydrocolloid scientists library.

  • Positives:
  • An excellent book for the food technologist who needs to understand how to use hydrocolloids. Both informative and accessible. Very broad coverage.
  • Gives enough details to start a food development project and references of where to find the extra you will need.
  • Negatives:
  • Very food focused and has minimal industrial content. This was probably the intent but its not clear from the title, people expecting a modern version of Whistler's "Industrial Gums" will be disappointed. Maybe "Handbook of Food Hydrocolloids" would be more appropriate.

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