Every liquid can be turned into a sphere and the molecular cuisine explains how you can obtain this result.
Today we speak about a basic molecular cuisine preparation: the Spherification.
Molecular cuisine brings together two apparently distinct worlds: the culinary art and chemistry, passion and rationality.
Science arrives in our kitchen: flavours and textures change and we can experience unique culinary pleasure.
The Spherification process
As we already said, the Spherification process allow you to transform a liquid in a sphere.
This result can be achieved thanks to the sodium alginate (a gelling agent extracted from brown seaweed). These polysaccharides are able to determine the flexibility of the cells.
The sodium alginate is added to the mixture that you want to transform into a sphere and then it is immersed in a bath with calcium chloride.
Instantly, a gelled film is formed on the surface and it becomes thicker towards the inside (the calcium penetrates in the flavoured liquid and react with the sodium alginate, forming a gel).
In this way you can obtain a sphere with a liquid heart, unstable over time (while the calcium moves towards the inside, the sphere completely gels).
It is recommended to eat these spheres (called “caviar” or “drop“) immediately.
Let’s try to understand more
The alginate gels thanks to an ionic exchange.
The alginate is used as a salt and it is known that the salt is formed from two ions
In our case, the two ions are alginate (negatively charged) and sodium (positively charged).
When sodium alginate is dissolved in an aqueous solution, the salt is dispersed in the liquid we want to gel.
This liquid requires an ion exchange to become a gel.
So it’s necessary an ion with a double positive charge to replace the sodium and bind two chains of alginate.
This double positive ion is the calcium chloride.
This allows the chains to bind to each other and form a tissue that trap the liquid.
Let’s now turn to the practice with this fantastic recipe!
Apple-caramel and vodka sphere.
12 big spheres
20 minutes preparation
Rest 30 minutes
2 hours in the freezer
Ingredients for the spheres
20 cl of pure apple juice
5 cl of caramel syrup
2.6 g of sodium alginate
Ingredients for the calcic bath
30 cl of water
3 g of calcium salt
Mix the calcium salt and water until the complete dissolution of the calcium powder, then let it rest at least 30 minutes.
Mix the apple juice and the caramel syrup and add sodium alginate, stirring constantly.
Mix it and then let it rest for at least 30 minutes.
Pour the mixture into small hemispheric molds and put them in the freezer for at least 2 hours (this allows you to obtain homogeneous spheres; you can obtain the same result without freezing them, but by using a spoon and quickly dipping the mixture in the calcic bath or with a syringe without needle).
Dip the frozen spheres in the calcic bath for at least 1 minute (the spheres should not stick to the walls of the container, nor float on the surface, in order to obtain a uniform gelation).
Then dip the spheres gently in a cup full of water (we recommend to use a slotted spoon or a strainer to better manipulate the spheres and do a better drip).
Put a sphere in every shot glass and pour gently a bit of vodka.
Serve when the spheres are thawed and encourage your guests to drink the vodka before and then to break the sphere in the mouth.
WARNING: throw away the preparations with sodium alginate in the trash and not in the pipelines, to avoid their clog.
VARIATIONS: the apple-caramel mixture can be replaced with fruit juice, tea or liquid vegetable puree.
Add the sodium alginate (1 g per 100 g of preparation) and proceed to spherification in the calcic bath (1 g per 100 g water).
The preparation of any other sphere (used as an complement of a drink or as a salad dressing, is always the same.
The main step consists in adding the sodium alginate to the mixture that you want to transform into a sphere and then immerse (with the aid of a syringe without a needle or with hemispherical molds as explained above) the spheres in the calcium bath.
The opportunities and variations are so many, so free your imagination and create new and colourful dishes with these charming and versatile little gems!