The question, “Why are my matzo balls hard in the middle?” is a common one among people who love making floating matzo balls.
Floaters are supposed to be fluffy and airy, but when they have hard centers, they tend to become dense and sometimes sink to the bottom of the pot, which defeats the whole purpose.
Matzo balls usually exist in two main categories. We have the sinkers, which are usually tough, dense, and firm and also sink to the bottom of the pot when being cooked and served.
The floaters, which are soft, fluffy, and airy and bounce around the surface of the soup or broth when being cooked or served.
If you are wondering what causes hard matzo balls, we might have a few ideas.
Using water to mix and make your matzo balls can be one reason why they are hard inside. Another reason could be keeping the mixture for too long before boiling.
Why Are My Matzo Balls Hard In The Middle?
There are several factors responsible for the hardened center of your matzo balls.
Most matzo balls with a hardened center are sinkers. They are intentionally made that way to be hard and dense.
But if you intended to make a fluffy and soft matzo ball, but you ended up having one with a hard center, it could be as a result of one of the following:
Reason #1: Using Liquid to Mix Your Batter
One reason you might have a hard matzo ball is using water to mix your batter.
Water causes the matzo balls to be dense and end up having a hard center.
Lots of people prefer using seltzer in place of plain water for this reason.
Reason #2: Leaving the Batter to Sit For Too Long before Cooking
Another reason why your floaters might end up having a hard center is by allowing the batter to sit for too long before cooking.
When making matzo balls, it is advisable to follow the stipulated waiting time as stated in the recipe.
Cooking them too early can cause them to fall apart in the cooking process, and allowing them to sit in the refrigerator for too long can cause them to become tough.
Reason #3: Insufficient Cooking Time
If matzo balls are not cooked properly, they end up being dense and hard.
Just like every other food we cook, matzo balls need proper simmering to ensure they are soft and done before serving.
The total amount of time you might need to fully cook your matzo balls will be dependent on the type of recipe used.
A fully cooked matzo ball would have a uniform consistency and color.
Tip: You cannot overcook a matzo ball. Continue to cook until you are certain it is fully cooked.
Reason #4: Disturbing the Pot When Cooking
Another harmless habit that might cause your matzo balls to become hard is opening the pot while cooking.
Matzo balls hate disturbance, so it is advisable not to remove the cover of the pot in the first 20 minutes of cooking.
Useful Tips On How To Make Fluffy Matzo Balls?
One great characteristic of a fluffy and airy matzo ball is its ability to absorb the flavor of the broth used to cook them.
Most people prefer to cook their matzo balls in chicken broth or soup. This is a great way of giving your fluffy matzo balls extra flavor.
This is not common in floaters as they are too dense to absorb any extra flavor from their poaching medium.
To make the fluffiest matzo balls, you should consider following this set of rules, or rather guidelines, explained below.
Tip #1: Make the Matzo Balls as Airy as Possible
The main trick involved in getting a fluffy matzo ball that floats is to make it as airy as possible.
Avoid using ingredients in your mixture that can cause the batter to become dense.
An example would be water. If possible, avoid using plain water to mix your batter, as it can make it dense.
You can use seltzer in place of plain water as it makes matzo balls come out fluffier and lighter compared to using water.
Also, when shaping your matzo balls, always aim to make them as light as possible.
Form the balls using the palm of your hands instead of your fingers.
Note: Apply minimum pressure and try not to compress them when forming your matzo balls.
Tip #2: Embrace Egg Whites
Egg whites are an important ingredient when preparing matzo balls.
They are not only used to add flavor to the matzo ball, but also to help make it airier.
When egg whites are whipped up to a soft peak stage, they tend to hold a lot of air within, which contributes to the fluffiness of your matzo balls.
Apart from that, the eggs are responsible for helping the matzo ball stay in place.
Note: Making matzo balls without eggs will cause them to fall apart.
Tip #3: Exercise Patience
It is natural for you to be tempted to want to have a taste of what you’re cooking, but trying that with your matzo balls can be the deciding factor that will cause them to turn sinkers.
This can be likened to baking. In the same way, you wouldn’t open your microwave when baking a soufflé, you shouldn’t try it when boiling your matzo balls.
Tip: Avoid opening the cooking pot until after about 30 minutes of cooking time.
Tip #4: Test for Doneness
Always test for doneness before bringing your matzo balls down to serve.
After waiting for the given time stipulated in the recipe, you should first test to see if the matzo balls are soft and fluffy enough.
One way of easily getting a hard-centered matzo ball is due to insufficient cooking time.
You can test for doneness by dividing one piece of matzo ball into two parts using a sharp knife.
If you notice the consistency and color of the middle part of the matzo ball are the same, then it is done and ready to serve.
If not, close the pot and let it cool some more.
Tip #5: Always Keep Your Hands Wet
Mixing and folding matzo balls can sometimes be messy as the batter is usually sticky.
Always have a bowl of water beside you when forming your matzo balls while ensuring your hands are always wet when forming new balls.
Otherwise, you will end up with irregularly shaped matzo balls that might end up tough.
Tip #6: Don’t Let It Sit For Too Long
When making matzo balls, you are expected to let the batter sit for some time before cooking.
To ensure your matzo balls are fluffy, do not let the batter sit for longer than necessary.
Always follow the instructions provided in the recipe.
By following those simple steps above, I believe you will stop looking for answers to the question, “Why are my matzo balls hard in the middle?”
You should also understand that the recipe you are using might also contribute to why your matzo balls are tough.
If your recipe contains water, try replacing it with seltzer or plain soda water.
This won’t affect the taste of the matzo balls much but will make them even fluffier and soft.
Also, discipline yourself not to disturb your matzo balls when they are being cooked. Avoid opening the pot until you are ready to test for doneness.