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Gelling

Gelling is a wide ranging and very important technique in traditional and modern cooking. It encapsulates everything from the old to the new, from custards to edible gel sheets to spherification. There are many different ingredients that cause gelling including eggs, starches like flour, and hydrocolloids like agar and xanthan gum.

Strawberry daiquiri agar gel close

There are a few different ways gelling happens but most of them result in some kind of solid structure that traps liquid in it. The structure is often made of proteins and gives form and body to the gel.

The main purpose of gelling is to provide texture to liquids by turning these into gels through the use of a thickening agent. Many of the gelling agents used do not have any flavor or color, making these ideal food additives since they do not affect flavor. As a matter of fact, certain gelling agents may even enhance the flavor of food in the mouth by causing it to more fully coat the tongue.

You can get more information about gelling from my guide on how to make gels or from the gelling articles below.

Gelling Recipes and Articles

Locust Bean Gum Substitute - Ask Jason

Steak with papaya noodles Trying to find a good substitute for locust bean gum can be tricky, especially when it is called for with agar, but there are some other combinations that might work.

Clam Chowder with Smoked Clam Recipe

Clam chowder custardb w For a modern twist on this clam chowder with smoked clams recipe I gel the chowder, cube it, and serve it on a crunchy sourdough crouton with a smoked clam on top. A tasty and talked about party treat!

Mango Noodles

Mango locust agar noodles 2 These mango noodles add a great flavor punch and visual touch to dishes. I like to serve them draped over ice cream or a sundae but they can also be heated and served with jerk pork or as a garnish on an Asian citrus salad.

Homemade Lox and Cream Cheese Noodles Recipe

Lox This crostini recipe moves the traditional deli food of lox and cream cheese on a bagel into fancy modernist bites. The cream cheese is turned into gelled noodles that are served on toasted bagel rounds with pickled red onion. An easy to pick up and deliciously flavorful party food!

Upscale PB and J Recipe

Upscale pbj For a PB and J dessert worthy of a party, I make a home-made cashew butter to replace the peanut butter and then turn some fresh raspberries into a flavorful fluid gel for the jelly. I serve it with a sliver of dark chocolate for richness and a lemon twist to add brightness. When served open face it better highlights the flavors.

Roasted Red Pepper Soup Recipe

Roasted red pepper foam soup Roasted red peppers are a classic Italian offering and this recipe uses the whipping siphon to aerate them into a light, smooth soup. The amount of agar can be adjusted to easily control the thickness of the soup. In addition to serving it as a soup, this foam can be used in many different ways to turn traditional dishes into modern masterpieces.

Halibut with Citrus Pudding Recipe

Halibut citrus pudding close I really like how the halibut goes with the sweet and tart citrus pudding. This is a simple dish but one that is full of subtle flavors. The orange and lemon help complement the halibut and the basil adds just a hint of spice to it.

Carrot Planks with Pea Pudding Recipe

Carrot planks pea pudding Looking to take your guests by surprise visually but still deliver that familiar and well-loved taste of peas and carrots? This recipe tops a roasted carrot plank with pea pudding and some pancetta for added flavor and texture. Zip it up with a modernist twist!

Banana Ravioli with Nutella

Banana ravioli with nutella For these fun and flavorful party desserts I make a gelled ravioli from bananas and cream and fill them with Nutella. Just top them off with some shaved chocolate and mint leaves or serve them with ice cream - either way it is a crowd pleaser!

Blackcurrant Foam

Black currant gelatin foam 2 This thicker blackcurrant foam recipe is full of flavor. It can be used on desserts to add some sweet and tart flavor or as a sauce to liven up a fish entree.

Mom's Sweet Potato Casserole Bites

Marshmallow   sweetpotato mollases For this dessert I've taken the components from my mom's sweet potato casserole and broken them down into a modernist dessert. I take crispy sweet potato chips and top them with a fresh orange and brown sugar marshmallow. Then I finish it with a drizzle of molasses for extra flavor.

Chocolate Covered Mint Marshmallows

Marshmallows   chocolate covered mint syrup This recipe takes classic homemade marshmallows and covers them in yummy chocolate. Mint and chocolate is a classic pairing and the soft marshmallows are a great way to hold them all together! A definite party favorite!

Chocolate Foam

Chocolate gelatin foam 2 This recipe produces a thick chocolate foam that is a tasty fun way to top ice cream or brownies. It makes a wonderful smooth dessert when served by itself with just a sprinkle of cinnamon and powdered sugar topping it off!

Bacon-Bourbon BBQ Jam Recipe

Chicken wings bacon Bacon and bourbon are two of my favorite foods and this recipe combines them in a smokey, spicy BBQ sauce that is great on wings, pulled pork, brisket, or about anything else you can think of. The sauce itself is really tasty but the bacon chunks add great bursts of flavor.

Cherry-Chocolate Marshmallows Recipe

Marshmallows   cherry coated Using a marshmallow base turns a rich, decadent chocolate covered cherry into a lighter equally satisfying treat. I add cocoa powder to the marshmallow mixture, resulting in a light chocolate flavor and cherry juice is turned into a marshmallow coating. These addictive snacks have great flavor and are a visually interesting dish that will get your guests talking!

Tikka Masala Coated Chicken Recipe

Tikka masala coated chicken cubes Tikka masala is a traditional English dish at curry houses. With this recipe I reimagined it as a modernist dish by turning the sauce into a gelled coating; it's s a fun play on a old classic!

Mussels with Curry Foam Recipe

Curry mussels with curry foam For this recipe I make a foam instead of using the normally thin liquid associated with a dish of mussels. After removing the mussels from their shells, I serve them individually with the curry foam on top. This exceptional mussel bite turns a messy meal into an elegant and easy to eat party food.

Blackberry-Peach Wrapped Pork Recipe

Blackberry wrapped pork The star of most of my parties is meat and this blackberry-peach wrapped sous vided pork offering is no exception! It makes a fun presentation besides the additional sweetness and flavor from roasting the fruit complements the pork perfectly.

Maple-Pecan Panna Cotta Recipe

Maple pecan panna cotta This recipe infuses milk with the great flavor of maple and pecan then turns it into a tender panna cotta dessert. The common modernist gelling ingredients of iota carrageean and kappa carrageenan are used to make the panna cotta portion; an immersion blender and a whipping siphon are both modernist equipment used to make this delicate ending to your meal.

White Chocolate Clouds Gelatin Foam Recipe

White chocolate clouds White chocolate foam dispensed over ripe berries, it does not get much better than that! This recipe will wow your guests.

Roasted Poblano, Corn and Bacon Bite Recipe

Roasted corn custard poblano pudding bites This great party snack use a crispy bacon base topped with a creamy corn custard and a spicy poblano chile fluid gel to make a rich and complex one-bite snack.

Foamed Fruit Cosmos Recipe

Blueberry foam in drink and cocktail Cosmos are becoming a more and more popular drink and I mix it up by making different flavors of cosmo and by adding some flair in the form of a fruit gelatin foam from a whipping siphon.

Creamsicle with Sous Vide Infused Orange-Vanilla Vodka Recipe

Vanilla orange infused vodka Using sous vide infused vanilla-orange vodka makes this modernist cocktail extra flavorful and the half and half adds a richness that cannot be beat.

Mom’s Sweet Potato Casserole Bites Recipe

Marshmallow   sweetpotato mollases This modernist dessert is a take off of an old fashioned sweet potato, brown sugar and marshmallow casserole. Here I take crispy sweet potato chips, top them with a fresh orange and brown sugar marshmallow and finish it with a drizzle of molasses for extra flavor. This treat is a hit at every party!

Habanero-Peach Dip Recipe

Peach habanero dip This dip recipe combines the spicy heat of habanero peppers with the sweet taste of fresh ripe peaches. The resulting tangy dip is great on vegetables or even meat. By altering the amount of peppers used, you can raise or lower the heat to suit your guests.

Paloma Recipe with Grapefruit Foam

Paloma with grapefruit foam front lit Tequila has a bad reputation as a party drink but you can tame it if you replace the shots with this sophisticated cocktail. The paloma is a traditional Mexican cocktail and is much more common than a margarita south of the border. It is usually made with tequila and a grapefruit soda, such as squirt, served over ice, and is both easy to make and delicious.

Apple Cider Agar Gel Cubes Recipe

Apple cider gel cubes2 These gel cubes are super easy to put together and they make a great small bite for people to enjoy. The quality of the cider you use will directly relate to how good the gels turn out.

Strawberry Daiquiri Agar Gel Cubes Recipe

Strawberry daiquiri agar gel close These cocktail cubes are a fun way to entertain your guests. They are rum infused strawberries encased in a daiquiri cube. When you bite into them the cube starts off with a sweet and tart flavor followed up by the kick of the rum-infused strawberries.

Shortcakes with Agar Fruit Gels and Siphon Whipped Cream

Agar fruit gel shortcake One of my favorite spring dishes is shortcakes with fresh fruits or berries. The other day I decided to take advantage of some great looking berries and made a variety of shortcakes. To make them more modern, and to work on some recipes for my upcoming book, I used some whipping siphon foams and agar agar fruit gels.

Salmon Bites with Tomatillo Agar Fluid Gel Sauce Recipe

Tomatillo agar fluid gel pudding These Mexican inspired salmon bites pack a lot of flavor in a little package. The acidity from the tomatillos compliments the salmon perfectly and the crunch from the fried tortillas adds great texture.

Methocel A4C Instant Mushroom Noodles

These instant noodles make for an awesome presentation. They are created in the bowl of soup in front of the diner, or the diner can even make the noodles themselves. They are based off of Wylie Dufresne's instant tofu noodles.

Orange-Ginger Gel Sheets

Agar gelatin sheets 2 One interesting use of modernist gelling is to create pliable gel sheets. These gel sheets are made by adding a combination of agar agar and gelatin to a flavored liquid and letting it set. The agar and gelatin add both elasticity for strength and a nice brittleness for flavor release. The ratio of the two ingredient will determine the final characteristic of the gel sheets.

Classic Gelatin Marshmallows

Gelatin marshmallows 2 Marshmallows are a favorite food of children everywhere. These homemade ones are so much better than store bought that there is really no comparison. Whether you want to eat these on smores, in hot cocoa or just plain they will amaze you and your friends.

Agar Agar

Strawberry daiquiri agar gel close Agar, or agar agar, is a gelling agent extracted from red algae. It is commonly used to stabilize foams and to thicken or gel liquids. It is relatively easy to work with and a good starting point for modernist cooking.

Poblano Iota Carrageenan Custard Recipe

Iota carrageenan poblano custard 2 This creamy iota carrageenan custard is full of poblano flavor and great as an addition to many different dishes. You can serve it alongside pork chops or pork belly, or even as a side with fish.

Bloody Mary "Ants on a Log" Recipe

Bloody mary log close My wife's relatives in Florida love their Bloody Marys and this is her modernist take on them, focusing on the celery garnish and turning it into the serving vessel a la the traditional "ants on a log" children's snack.

Agar Bloody Mary Gel Recipe

Bloody mary log close One of the fun things about modernist cooking is changing the textures of common dishes while keeping the flavors the same. This creates almost a confusion in the palate when it's being eaten and the brain recognizes the flavors but not the textures. This recipe creates a solid Bloody Mary gel with agar agar that has applications in various dishes.

Papaya Agar Agar Gel Cube Recipe

Papaya agar gel cubes These agar gel cubes are a great way to add a unique visual style to a dish, as well as creating little bursts of papaya. You could use a similar agar recipe to gel many different liquids, depending on the dish you are creating.

Sous Vide Lemon Curd

Lemon curd Although you can now buy lemon curd in most supermarkets, it is extremely simple to make in your water oven, and the homemade version doesn't contain any preservatives or artificial flavors. Traditional recipes require cooking the lemon-egg mixture in a double boiler until the curd thickens. This can be tricky, as one or two degrees can make the difference between success and disaster. With the sous vide technique, the curd cooks itself without any stress or stirring.

Papaya Agar Agar Noodles Recipe

Papaya agar agar noodles close Gels are a very common technique in modernist cooking. This modernist recipe uses the gelling properties of agar agar to make papaya noodles. These agar agar noodles are a great addition to a several different dishes and are an easy way to add a touch of flair.

Gels and Gelling

Strawberry daiquiri agar gel close The modernist technique of gelling or gelification is used very often to add texture and to create unique presentations in molecular gastronomy.

Balsamic Vinegar Pearls Recipe

Balsamic pearls thumbnail One of the easiest molecular gastronomy recipes to try is by creating "pearls". Most pearls are solid jelly balls that can be used to garnish dishes or as an amuse-bouche. Here we use sweet-sour balsamic vinegar to make pearls that are a great way to add a hit of flavor to many different dishes. The process of making them is even pretty easy.

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