One of the most attention grabbing modernist techniques is spherification. It is the formation of a liquid into orb-like beads or spheres encapsulated in a gelled skin. The gelling agents used in spherification only gel in the presence of certain ions, such as calcium or potassium.
There are two main spherification techniques, direct spherification and reverse spherification, depending on where you put the gelling ingredient. If you add the ingredient to the flavored liquid it is "direct spherification" and if you add it to the setting bath, it is "reverse spherification". I find reverse spherification easier to use than direct spherification because you can freeze the liquid into spheres before gelling it and because the spheres stop gelling when you remove them from the setting bath.
Sodium alginate is a good gelling agent to have on hand because it is very effective at both reverse and direct spherification. Once set, it also can be heated above the boiling point without melting, making it very versatile.
You can get more information about spherification from my guide on how to make spherification or from the spherification articles below.
Using miniature spheres, referred to as caviar, is a great way to add little bursts of flavor to dishes. Here we use a chipotle water but you can use the same technique on any liquid that doesn't contain calcium.
Sodium alginate is most well known for its use in spherification. It is a natural gelling agent taken from the cell walls of brown algae.
It easily disperses, hydrates, and gels in any temperature of liquid. Sodium alginate gels when it comes in contact with calcium. It also has many uses other than spherification such as thickening and general gelling. It works best in non-acidic mixtures.
One of the most interesting things in molecular gastronomy is spherification. Spherification is basically a process that seals a liquid in a jelly like membrane. There are several ways to accomplish this but in this article we will focus on the method of reverse spherification using calcium lactate and sodium alginate. When the calcium and the sodium alginate come in contact they form a membrane, encapsulating anything inside of it.
Learn about the modernist technique of spherification, the ingredients it uses and how to apply it to your own cooking.
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