I have more or less not played around anything with spherification, so I just wanted to start with some simple stuff. That said, what I wanted to first of all was basic spherification. Since I had watermelon at home I used that.
El Bulli introduced spherification in 2003. The technique involves a controlled jellification of a liquid that forms spheres when submerged in a bath.
The spheres can be made of different sizes and have been given names like caviar, eggs and ravioli. The resulting spheres usually have a thin membrane and are filled with the original liquid. A slim force of the mouth on the sphere makes them burst and release an amazing explosion of flavor. The spheres are flexible and can be carefully manipulated.
There are two main styles of spherification techniques (each of them has its advantages and disadvantages that make them suitable for certain applications but foremost the liquid used decides what method to practice):
- The Basic Spherification technique consists of submerging a liquid with sodium alginate in a bath of calcium.
- The Reverse Spherification technique consists of submerging a liquid with a mixture of calcium gluconate and calcium lactate in a bath of sodium alginate.
What I did (i.e. Basic Spherification);
For the Watermelon spherical “caviar” base
- 250 g Watermelon juice
- 2 g Sodium Alginate
- Mix the Alginate with 1/3 of the watermelon juice.
- Shred in a blender to obtain an even mixture without lumps.
- Mix with the remaining 2/3, strain and keep at room temperature for 30 min.
For the Calcium lactate bath
- 6.5 g Calcium lactate
- 1000 g water
- Dissolve the Calcic in the water with a beater.
- Put the mixture in a container.
For the watermelon caviar
- Fill a syringe with the melon caviar mixture.
- Drip into the Calcium lactate mix. Leave to ”cook” for one (1) min.
- Strain and wash the melon caviar obtained in cold water, strain off the excess water.
- Put the melon caviar in a container (for example, as I did, in a caviar tin).
The result? I am pretty happy with the “caviar”. See my picture below.
However, I also did some larger “regular” spheres and even though those had a nice look the membrane was way to thick. Yes, I tried to have the spheres submerged for different times (i.e. foremost shorter, way shorter than a minute in the Calcium lactate bath) but I still wasn’t pleased with the texture when eating them (to much jellification). If I had used a Sodium Alginate bath using my tap water (that contains to much calcium) as a base, that would consequently triggered the jellification already in the bath. However, my Sodium Alginate bath was just the melon juice and the Sodium Alginate, so I do not understand this.