Cross linking of calcium ion in alginate produce spherification in molecular gastronomy by pseudoplastic flow

Author : Dhrubo Jyoti Sen

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.

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