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12Dec/1369

Strawberry Spheres with Ground Pepper

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A simple spherification recipe to make strawberry spheres that explode in the mouth! Great for kids and very versatile. In this recipe we just serve them with ground pepper but the strawberry spheres can be used as a filling in a sponge cake, as a surprise inside some chocolate air or as garnish for many desserts such as chocolate mousse. Be creative and share with us your ideas in the comment section!

We use the Reverse Spherification technique in this recipe. If you haven't  read our Spherification Course yet we recommend you do that first. Watch video below.

 

Strawberry spheres with Reverse Spherification -1

Ingredients for Strawberry Spheres

- 250g (8.8 oz) strawberry puree (~300g / 10.6 oz strawberries)

- 10g (0.35 oz) sugar

- salt pinch

- 5g calcium lactate gluconate (2%)

- Strawberry juice to store the spheres if you are not planning to consume them within a few hours.

Garnish

- Coarse ground black pepper

Spherification Bath

- 1000 g (35 oz) distilled water

- 5 g sodium alginate (0.5%)

Strawberry spheres with Reverse Spherification -2

Preparation

Flavored Liquid

1- Using an immersion blender, puree the strawberries.

2- Pass the strawberry puree through a fine sieve.

3- Add the sugar, salt and calcium lactate gluconate. Blend.

4- Cover in plastic wrap and store it in the fridge overnight to remove the air bubbles.

Spherification Bath

Dispersing and Hydrating Sodium Alginate

1- Mix the sodium alginate with the distilled water using a blender until the sodium alginate is completely dissolved. If this is your first time doing this, be aware that it may take longer than expected.

Removing Air Bubbles

2- Strain the mix and store it in the fridge covered in plastic wrap overnight to eliminate the air bubbles.

Creating Spheres with Reverse Spherification

1- Get the strawberry puree with calcium content from the fridge, the sodium alginate bath and the 1Tbsp measuring spoon to make large spheres.

2- Prepare another bowl with plain water that you are going to use later for rinsing the spheres to remove the excess of sodium alginate.

3- Grab the measuring spoon; fill it with the strawberry puree and carefully pour it into the sodium alginate bath. Wipe the bottom with a paper towel, place the spoon over the bath slightly touching its surface and flip it to pour the liquid into the sodium alginate bath.

4- Stir the bath gently with the slotted spoon without touching the spheres. If you let them sit in the bottom of the bath, they will flatten and if you let them float, the top won't be covered with the sodium alginate solution and won't gel. Make sure the spheres don’t touch each other or they will stick. Start with one sphere at a time until you get used to the process. A flat bottomed pan may be better than a bowl if you are planning to make multiple spheres at a time.

5- Wait for about 2 minutes. The longer you wait the thicker the gel that will form. In general, for a good eating experience, you want the gel layer surrounding the sphere to be as thin as possible but it also needs to be strong enough to hold the shape and allow for careful handling. If the membrane is too fragile, they may easily break when you remove them from the bath or place them on the serving spoon.

6- Carefully remove the sphere from the sodium alginate bath using a slotted spoon and rinse it in the bowl with clean water.

TIPS: I recommend you always start with one sphere first to adjust the pouring process and the time in the sodium alginate bath. If the sphere membrane is too subtle and the sphere easily breaks when handling it with the slotted spoon carefully or when plating it, extend the time in the calcium bath until you get the desired strength. Keep in mind that the thinner the membrane the better experience people are going to have when eating it.

Strawberry spheres with Reverse Spherification -3

Storing the Spheres and Preserving the Flavor

One of the biggest benefits of Reverse Spherification is that you can store the spheres to be consumed later. If you leave the spheres in contact with air, the gel will start to dry and eventually break. You need to store them in a liquid bath. However, since the gel membrane around the sphere is permeable to small molecules, osmosis will occur if submerged in water and dilute the flavored liquid inside the sphere. To preserve the flavor, store them in a bath of the same flavored liquid in the fridge, strawberry juice in this case.

Assemble and Serve

1- Place the strawberry spheres on appetizer spoons.

2- Garnish with coarse ground black pepper.

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  • Tom

    Amazing! Made them yesterday for the New Year’s party, Everyone was surprised!

  • Claire

    Hi! Can I ask what is the portion size for 4 strawberry spheres? in terms of grams.

    • QuantumChef

      I usually use a 5ml spoon for each sphere. I don’t have the exact weight but I estimate it to be between 7g to 10g for each sphere.

  • Graciotto

    Hey. Both of your ingredients are pretty hard to find. And when they do, i have to buy it in 1kg. Do u have any replacement suggestion?

    • QuantumChef

      Are you referring to the sodium alginate and calcium lactate gluconate? You can get them in our store in small quantities here http://store.molecularrecipes.com/spherification/

      • Graciotto

        Well actually your price is pretty pricy and i believe it excluded the delivery. So do you have other replacement maybe?

  • May

    Hi! I have a question about storing the spheres. I was thinking of making raspberry spheres on the chocolate tarts during the daytime and store them in the refrigerator before serving them at the housewarming party during the night. I’m not sure whether this will breaks the gel of the spheres or not. Please advise asap!

    • QuantumChef

      Make sure the gel doesn’t dry, so maybe cover them with film. I would personally store them in a bath and assemble the tarts right before serving.

  • Mata

    I just want translate this on Croatia but.. I don’t understund some steps

  • Alex

    Is there anything I need to take into consideration when choosing the liquid bath the spheres will be stored in before use? I understand the flavour of the liquid permeates the spheres, but will for example acidity or calcium level affect the spheres themselves?

    • QuantumChef

      No, it is just about flavor and maintaining them wet.

      • Alex

        Ok, thanks for the quick reply!

  • MolecularNovice

    How long can the spheres be stored in liquid? Thanks!

    • QuantumChef

      For a couple of days in the fridge should be fine.

  • David

    The spoons and dish are rather cool … where can I get them?

  • David

    Thanks, chef. I shall follow up.

  • Reb Cheff

    hi I made the spheres and they came out excellent when I tried the recipe using basic spherification it didn’t work at all. do you have any idea why?

    • QuantumChef

      Did you try making large spheres or caviar? What happened?

      • Reb Cheff

        I used the same proportions 1/2% of alginate and calcium chloride. I used the same spoon and the puree sank to the bottom and just sat there and when I tried to pick it up it fell apart. I then tried making caviars and they fell apart as soon as they hit the water. would it make a difference if I used frozen strawberries?

        • QuantumChef

          It could be that the strawberry puree is too acidic or that the sodium alginate was not dispersed and hydrated properly.

  • Adrián Alejandro Cabouli Günsb

    if i use calcium lactacte 1% instead calcium lactate gluconate 2%? so i use 2.5g?

    • QuantumChef

      Yes

  • Sathya Prema

    we use the technique in biotech labs ,can we take the whole strawberry balls,sodium alginate a product of algae is safe to eat

    • QuantumChef

      Not sure what and how you are making it but everything we have on our site is edible if you make it with our food grade products.

  • http://www.cybernetix.us Tom Bailey

    I just got the kit for a present and am having a hard time with this recipe. My spherification bath seems to be a little thick, but I’m using 1000ml of cold distilled water, 5g of sodium alginate, and blending for a few minutes. Put in the fridge to get bubbles out. When I go to use it, it seems thick (hard to tell how thick it should be), but, I have a hard time pulling spheres out through the surface tension. I have a spoon with holes in it and the bath doesn’t really flow through the holes. Is this right? I’ve started from scratch several times now and it is just frustrating at this point.

    • QuantumChef

      It seems that your water has some calcium and may not be distilled water?

      • http://www.cybernetix.us Tom Bailey

        I thought about that, tried two different brands of distilled water from two different stores. I assume the bath should be about the same viscosity of water? Unless there is some sort of distilled water scam going on, I’m at a loss for what to do about that.

        • QuantumChef

          Bath will definitely be thick but not solid gel, should go through your perforated spoon. Are you making these large strawberry spheres or something else?

          • http://www.cybernetix.us Tom Bailey

            Yes, I’m making the strawberry spheres.

          • http://www.cybernetix.us Tom Bailey

            Just did another test. Used 4g sodium alginate. Let the spheres sit for 3+ minutes. It does seem like they are building a membrane around them, but, they break when I try to pull them out. It’s like the surface film on the top of the bath is too strong (or the sphere is too weak).

          • QuantumChef

            Are you moving the spheres around and flipping them? Don’t let them float on one side all the time or the membrane won’t form on the top side.

          • http://www.cybernetix.us Tom Bailey

            If I move them around much at all they just fall apart. Also, the spheres tend to look wrinkly when I put them in the bath…not sure if that means anything.

          • QuantumChef

            Just carefully agitate the bath around them without touching the spheres or pour spoons of alginate on top in the beginning until the membrane starts to form.

          • http://www.cybernetix.us Tom Bailey

            If I pour alginate on top of the puree it just breaks apart.

          • http://www.cybernetix.us Tom Bailey

            Anyone? I’ve tried this recipe over and over and stuff doesn’t work. Should I just return the kit? Lame to spend $200 on something that doesn’t work.

          • QuantumChef

            I think the problem you are having is that the puree may be too thin so it is spreading in the bath. Have you read these tips? http://www.molecularrecipes.com/spherification-class/10-tips-create-perfect-sphere/
            Go to minute 5 of the video on this page and let me know what seems to be different when you do it.

          • http://www.cybernetix.us Tom Bailey

            The puree doesn’t make a nice sphere when it is dropped in the mix. The outside seems wrinkly. If I try to move the puree at all in the bath, I have to be extremely gentle or it will break up. I read the link you provided, but it doesn’t say how much Xanthan to add. This page http://www.molecularrecipes.com/hydrocolloid-guide/xanthan-gum/ says to use .05% to slightly thicken smoothies, which would equate to .125g for a 250g puree mix (unless my math is off).

          • QuantumChef

            I would start with 0.25%, you need to get the consistency of heavy cream.

          • http://www.cybernetix.us Tom Bailey

            Well, added .5g of xantham to the puree…made it pretty thick. Probably too thick. On a side note, I ordered another 3oz packet of sodium alginate. The sodium alginate that came with my kit is a tan powder. The sodium alginate I just got in the mail today is white….

          • http://www.cybernetix.us Tom Bailey

            Hooray, the new sodium alginate worked! Must have got a bad batch. Ya’ll should send me a discount code or something. I’ve wasted a lot of time and money buying strawberries, distilled water, and sodium alginate that actually works.

          • QuantumChef

            Great to hear! Contact me directly via email through this form please.http://www.molecularrecipes.com/about/contact-form/

  • Bobby Day

    Just made them & they were great

  • sophietr2017

    does anybody know how many this makes?

    • QuantumChef

      Roughly about 20 spheres.

  • sophietr2017

    like the yield

  • sophietr2017

    is the immersion blender necessary? or can we just use a regular one. i’m doing this w/ a partner for a science fair

    • QuantumChef

      Yes. Depending on the blender you are using, you may have to make a larger batch to have enough liquid for the blades to work effectively.

  • sophietr2017

    when do you rinse the spheres in the water? and is there a trick to doing it? will all of the alginate come off if we rinse it wrong? and if we’re going to be storing the spheres do we rinse them before or after they come out of the strawberry juice. we’re really confused on the whole rinsing part

    • QuantumChef

      When you remove them from the alginate bath, place them in a bowl with water and just stir the water gently. There is not much to it. Then you can place them in juice to store them.

  • sophietr2017

    also, it says “wipe the bottom with a paper towel” on step three of the spherification process. wipe the bottom of what? the measuring spoon?

    • QuantumChef

      Yes, the measuring spoon.

  • sophietr2017

    could you please explain the entire step three of the “creating spheres with reverse spherification” because we don’t understand it at all

    • QuantumChef

      I recommend you watch the video on this page.

  • sophietr2017

    so how long can the sodium alginate bath and the strawberry puree with calcium content be kept? the science fair is at 7 pm on Feb 11, so our plan is to make the bath Feb 10 night and keep it in the fridge until 4pm on the 11th. Then we will make the spheres for the fair. Will that be okay??

    • QuantumChef

      Yes, no problem at all!

  • sophietr2017

    how much extra sugar can we add to the strawberry puree without affecting the outcome

    • QuantumChef

      As much as you want.

  • Chris

    To make it easier can we freeze the mix in hemisphere moulds to get them a more consistent, better shape?

    • QuantumChef

      yes, no problem!

  • Tim

    I have calcium chloride, can it be used in place of the calcium lactate gluconate ?

    • QuantumChef

      It will ruin the flavor, it will taste salty.

  • Martin Kunert

    An amuse bouche variation is also wonderful.

    1) don’t add sugar.
    2) chill before serving
    3) dash vodka on it.

    Served it as people sat down. They loved it when all the flavors exploded on their tongues.

  • Robert77

    My spheres aren’t really holding, they are slimy and flat, what could be the problem?