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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

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Melon Soup Spheres Recipe

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Chipotle Caviar Recipe

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

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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

Mango sphere wide 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

Sodium alginate spheres 2 Learn about the modernist technique of spherification, the ingredients it uses and how to apply it to your own cooking.
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