Spherification is a form of gelation first pioneered by Feran Adria in 2003. It is becoming increasingly well-known and involves a chemical reaction which causes a gel to form around a liquid when it is submerged into another liquid. It therefore allows you to create delicious burst-in-your-mouth spheres or caviar pearls - with a gel on the outside and a liquid centre.
There are one or two complications around getting pH and calcium levels right ... so if you are new to it, we recommend following our simple recipe to get great results!
The Alginate Solution
This is the liquid which forms your caviar pearls.
- 500ml of clear apple juice
- 5g Sodium Alginate
- 25g sugar
- 1g Malic Acid
- ½ ml Granny Smith Flavour Drops
Add 1% of Sodium Alginate to the liquid's weight. Blend the alginate with sugar or maltodextrin before adding to the base liquid to disperse the particles and prevent clumping when it is added to the liquid.
Whisk in very gradually with a gentle whisking motion.
Leave the liquid to hydrate and stand until clear and free of air bubbles.
Using your own solution?
Make sure that the pH is not below 3.6 and doesn’t contain large amounts of calcium. A low pH will prevent the alginate from gelling and too much calcium can cause the alginate to gel before the spheres have a chance to form. The liquid should also be of low viscosity. And remember, you can lose up to 50% of the flavour during the process so consider boosting the flavour profile using a flavour drop or high seasoning.
You could also use a performance colour for dramatic impact.
Create a Calcium Bath
Add 1% Calcium Chloride relative to the weight of the water.
Using a syringe, add the alginate solution to the bath drop by drop.
Stir the setting bath (a Lotus Spoon is handy for this).
Thirty seconds is enough time for a durable membrane to form. Stirring for less time forms a more delicate skin.
Strain the spheres into a separate bowl and rinse.