Spherification Tips (molecular gastronomy)


Follow these easy tips for perfect spheres every time

Get the viscosity right. The difference in viscosity between the flavored solution and the bath affects how easy is to make a sphere. The general rule is that if the flavored solution is thicker (more viscous) and the bath is thinner (less viscous) – it is easier to do.

Do not use tap water. If the calcium content of your tap water is high, it can affect the sodium alginate bath. Use filtered or bottled water instead. But not mineral water as it can also contain calcium.

Use a spherical spoon or spherical molds (including freezer molds). For preparations other than caviar in which you use a syringe, use measuring spoons with a spherical shape. These enable you to get a better shape when pouring the main ingredient into the bath.

Use a flat tray or container for the bath. This is especially important for reverse spherification, as spheres tend to stick together if they touch. Using a bowl makes it harder to keep the spheres separated. In bowls they move towards the middle each time you pour the main ingredient into the bath.

Fill the bath container up to the top. By using a container that means the bath is filled, it is easier to place the pouring spoon almost horizontally to the liquid. Ensure sides of the container are not in your way when pouring. By doing this you will find it easier and pouring smoother – and with a twist of your wrist you can ensure you get a nice shaped sphere.

Pour the liquid carefully. This is the most critical step in spherification and it requires practice.

There are a few ways of doing this and different techniques work better for different people. Be patient and practice different techniques until you find the right one for you.

Don’t pour the main ingredient from high above the surface of the bath. The impact of the liquid on the surface of the bath will flatten the sphere and may cause it to break or split. Place your spoon horizontally, close to the bath surface or even touching it and, with a fast but gentle twist of your wrist, pour the liquid into the bath.

Don’t let spheres float at the top of the bath. Sometimes spheres float when poured into the bath. If this occurs the top of the sphere won’t react enough with the bath solution and gelling won’t be even (weakening your sphere and causing it to burst). By stirring the water gently or by creating gentle waves in the bath you can ensure the whole sphere makes contact with the bath liquid. This also assists with forming the sphere shape.

Uneven gelling makes your sphere weaker and more likely to break.

Turn or flip the spheres occasionally while in the bath. Issues can also occur if the spheres sit on the bottom of the bath. If in contact with the bath base – a reduced reaction will occur and gelling will be uneven.

Clean your spoons and tools. It is essential that you wipe your spoon after each pour, especially if you are placing the spoon in any part of the bath to pour the liquid. Also ensure your slotted spoon is clean before you dip it in the bath to remove your spheres. Spoons that cross-contaminate may cause lumps of extra gel or “baby” spheres in the bath which can stick to your spheres (these look ugly!).

Keep the bath clean. If a sphere breaks in the bath small particles are present, pass the bath solution through a sieve and then continue the spherification process with this clean bath to avoid any debris from sticking to your spheres.

Use scissors. If required, carefully cut off long tails of gel while bubbles are in the bath. Ensure you don’t snip too close though – if you puncture the skin the bubble will deflate as the liquid escapes. This will cause it to break.

Time yourself. The longer the sphere is in the bath, the thicker the skin becomes (due to more time for the reaction to take place). While a thicker skin means less likelihood of leakage – too much gel skin can be disconcerting and unpleasant to eat.

Thanks to www.molecularrecipes.com for providing this information

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