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What is Spherification?

Spherification is a modern cuisine technique that involves creating semi-solid spheres with thin membranes out of liquids. As a result of this, a burst-in-the-mouth effect is achieved with the liquid.

Both flavor and texture is enhanced with this culinary technique. Spheres can be made in various sizes as well as various firmness. This makes it possible to encase liquids within the solid spheres.

Calcium chloride and sodium alginate are the two basic components used for this technique. Sodium alginate is taken from seaweed, while calcium chloride is a type of salt used in cheese making. The sodium alginate is used to gel the chosen liquid by dissolving it directly into the fluid. This will cause the liquid to become sticky, and proper dissolving must be done by mixing. The liquid is then left to set to eliminate any bubbles.

Once ready, a bath is prepared with calcium chloride and water. The liquid is then dropped into the bath using a spoon or syringe depending on the desired sphere size. Once set, the spheres are then removed and rinsed with water to remove any excess calcium chloride. This process causes the gel to form a membrane when it comes into contact with the calcium chloride, encasing the liquid.

The spherification process consists of two versions - direct and reverse.

In direct spherification, gelling solutions like sodium alginate is mixed directly with the chosen liquid and dropped in calcium chloride and water to form a thin gel shell. In this version, the spheres are easily breakable and should be consumed immediately.

In reverse spherification, alcohol and milk are fitting liquids. It uses calcium lactate, as it is found in dairy products, added with calcium chloride and dumped in a sodium alginate bath to form the covering around the liquid food. Unlike the direct version, the gelling stops and does not continue into the liquid orb. This result in having thicker shells so they do not have to be consumed immediately.

Related Spherification Articles

Chipotle Caviar and Crispy Pulled Pork Recipe

Chipotle Caviar and Crispy Pulled Pork  Recipe image This recipe combines crispy pulled pork and savory deviled egg with a burst of spicy chipotle flavor into one of the more unique combinations. The crispy pulled pork can be used as a garnish for many dishes, and a topper for fish or salads.
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Melon Soup Spheres Recipe

Melon Soup Spheres Recipe image This recipe makes fresh cantaloupe and honeydew melons into a simple flavorful soup, then turns it into little spheres that my guests can pop into their mouths. By using a modernist spherification technique and the modernist ingredients of calcium lactate and sodium alginate, you too can make a fun take on this favorite summer food!
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Chipotle Caviar Recipe

Chipotle Caviar Recipe image 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.
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Sodium Alginate

Sodium Alginate image 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.
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Spherified Mango Ravioli Recipe

Spherified Mango Ravioli Recipe image 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.
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Spherification Technique

Spherification Technique image Learn about the modernist technique of spherification, the ingredients it uses and how to apply it to your own cooking.
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