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7 Tips for Making Spherification Caviar

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LESSONS

Spherification Overview
El Bulli – Spherification History
Basic Spherification
Reverse Spherification
Frozen Reverse Spherification
10 Tips to Create a Perfect Sphere
7 Tips for Making Spherification Caviar
Getting Started with Spherification
Spherification Recipes

With the spherification technique you can make little spheres that resemble the shape of real caviar. The spherification caviar is made by releasing small droplets of the flavored liquid into the calcium bath using a syringe or a Caviar Maker. Here are some tips to master this fun molecular gastronomy technique created by Ferran Adria and El Bulli team. Watch video below for a quick overview of basic spherification and making caviar with a syringe or a caviar maker.

1- Use Basic Spherification: spheres tend to stick together when made with the Reverse Spherification technique so it is better to use Basic Spherification when creating spherification caviar since you have to produce many little spheres and they will inevitably come in contact with each other. The low viscosity of the bath in Basic Spherification will also make it easier to form small “caviar” spheres as it will allow the droplets to penetrate the bath surface with their small weight.

Melon cantaloupe caviar -720

2- Release the droplets from the right height: to avoid getting flattened or oval spheres, the droplets should have enough distance from the surface of the calcium bath so that they have enough time to cohere into a sphere and enough speed to penetrate the surface and sink. Don’t go too high up or the impact with the bath will deform them and you will end up with flattened caviar. You can also try a more diluted calcium bath to give time for the drop to cohere in the bath.

3- Apply constant pressure to the syringe pump: to obtain caviar spheres of consistent size, push the syringe pump at constant pressure and slow speed and allow the droplets to break away from the tip of the syringe on their own without tapping or shaking the syringe. Try holding the syringe horizontally to obtain more control and slightly larger caviar spheres. This process is much easier with the Caviar Maker as the results do not vary by how you press the syringe pump.

4- Regulate main ingredient acidity: basic spherification does not occur if the main ingredient is acidic (PH<3.6). You’ll also have trouble dissolving the sodium alginate if the acidity is high. Add some sodium citrate to reduce the acidity but be careful with the amount you add or the main ingredient will become too salty.

Cointreau caviar -720

5- “Cook” the spheres for less than 1 min: you want the caviar spheres to have liquid inside so just let them rest in the bath for a minute or less or they will become a jell ball. This could be a challenge if you only have one syringe and you are planning to make enough caviar for a few servings. At the speed droplets come out of one syringe you probably need a minute to make enough caviar for one serving so this means the first caviar sphere will be ready when the last droplet touches the bath for the first time. And because all the little spheres get mixed in the bath, you usually fish them out of the bath all together. An easy solution is to produce them in batches and serve them to one diner at a time. Another solution is to use an array of syringes or a Caviar Maker to produce a large quantity of caviar in a short period of time.

6- Use a bowl for the bath and a round sieve to fish the caviar: this will make it easier to fish all the caviar at once. If you use a rectangular container it will be harder to catch the spheres in the corners.

7- Serve immediately: remember that spheres produced with Basic Spherification continue to gel even after they are removed from the calcium bath and rinsed with water. You need to serve them immediately after preparation to delight your diners with a caviar sphere with subtle membrane and liquid inside.

Recommended Reading

Making Caviar the Easy Way
Basic Spherification
Spherification Caviar Recipes

Take The Next Lesson!

Spherification Overview
El Bulli – Spherification History
Basic Spherification
Reverse Spherification
Frozen Reverse Spherification
10 Tips to Create a Perfect Sphere
7 Tips for Making Spherification Caviar
Getting Started with Spherification
Spherification Recipes

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  • Thumbc

    In regards to the caviar, I have been able to produce perfect caviar using algitate and calcium lactate from texturas via a syringe, however as you know this is time consuming and not very practical behind a busy bar.  I saw how Richard Lambert of Cointreau using an equipment that resembles a spice-shaker to create perfect cointreau caviar (you can see this on youtube if you search for cointreau caviar).  I found an equipment similar to his and was able to make caviar with this method once but using algitate and calcium from biozoon (which I am now out of and must use texturas from now on because it is more convenient for my bar to order), but with texturas the caviar that falls out sometimes end up sticking together by long strains (each of them have very long tails that connect to each other and they may even bundle up, but a couple still come out formed as perfect caviars).  Any ideas what is causing this?  Should I add more calcium in my bath or perhaps more algitate to my solution?  Please help.  Thankyou

    • Anonymous

      Are you using basic spherification or reverse spherification? The spheres tend to stick together if you use reverse spherification. The tails of the spheres are usually caused when the main ingredient mix is too viscous so you can try reducing the amount of sodium alginate (basic spherification). Releasing the drops from a higher distance also tends to help so the sphere has time to form before reaching the surface of the bath.

  • http://eurekachef.blogspot.com/ Johnson Ebenezer

    which is ideal for perfect spherefication …. is it calcium chloride or calcium lactate?? I have been using calcium lactate it gives good spheres…but will calcium chloride be better.

    • Anonymous

      Calcium chloride is only good for basic spherification (for the bath), it is too salty for reverse spherification and will affect the flavor of the main ingredient in the sphere. Calcium lactate and calcium lactate gluconate are preferred for reverse spherification because they do not alter the flavor. There is no problem in using them for basic spherification , but you’ll have to use 2X of calc. lactate and 4X of calc. lactate gluco to replace calcium chloride.

      • Meredith Sheffield

        i am in 7th grade and i am doing an experiment/project on spherification. i was wondering what amount of sodium alginate and calcium chloride i would use. also, am i supposed to mix the sodium alginate with my liquid, how much to mix with the liquid, and how to determine if the liquids pH is less then five. plus is there anything else you could use besides sodium citrate to decrease the acticity?

  • http://www.healthshop101.com/calcium.html liquid calcium

    These are nice tips. I will try to use some of these. This is an excellent option if you like to take angstrom liquid calcium pills.

  • Kevinlpenn

    When you say “Serve immediately” what do you mean? 1 min? 5 min? 30 min? How long do the spheres take to become completely gelled all the way through?

    • QuantumChef

      Within 5 to 10 minutes. They become completely gelled between 20 to 30 min.

  • Zake

    How long can I keep the sodium alginate mix for ?? Will it also keep getting thick with time or that whole gel thing happens after the chloride bath only ?

    • QuantumChef

      You can keep it for a couple of days in the fridge. Shouldn’t get thick if there is no calcium content in the mix.

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  • Sirkory

    i am having trouble getting the quantities right. i have read many sites and the have all not worked. i am using cranberry juice and cherry juice for the main with 1 gram of alginate and the bath has 3 grams of chloride??
    no shperes are forming at all, kinda hits the surface and disapears into the mix, like a drop of cordial in water??
    any tips?? 

  • Hannah

    is there a way to make spheres that don’t completely gel in 10 min? I went to a frozen yogurt store that had juice bubble balls (that’s what they call them) and they had juice in the middle.

  • Kvalentin

    Is it necessary to use calcium chloride or alginate to make caviar or agar agar will do? the latter is available where i’m from

  • amanda

    How safe are these to ingest? Can a preservative be added to keep them longer? How much alcohol would you say is in each caviar?

    • QuantumChef

      You cannot store them because they will continue jelling and they will have no liquid inside. The amount of alcohol depends on the mixture you use to make the caviar.

  • triumvier

    why does my caviar start to melt when i put it on the plate? is it because after when it forms into a sphere i remove it immediately and rinse it off?

    • QuantumChef

      Shouldn’t happen. Are you sure the caviar is formed before removing it from the bath? Maybe you are removing it too soon or you are using an acidic ingredient?

      • triumvier

        I remove them immediately after they form and rinse them. Im using pureed raspberries

        • QuantumChef

          That’s probably the problem. You may have to increase the ph by adding sodium citrate.

  • Nathaniel Quirion

    i personally have quite a confused and rather hard time using the syringe to make the proper droplets. i never get them to come out at good speed so then they are all different sizes and some times not even in a ball form. what should i do or get?

    • QuantumChef

      Make sure the syringe plunger slides smoothly by lubricating it with cooking oil and maintain the height over the bath surface constant. Alternatively, you can get the caviar maker http://store.molecularrecipes.com/caviar-maker/

      I hope this helps!

  • Meredith Sheffield

    i am in 7th grade and i am doing a project/experiment on spherification. i was wondering what amount of sodium alginate and calcium chloride i would use. also, am i supposed to mix the sodium alginate with my liquid, how much to mix with the liquid, and how to determine if the liquids pH is less then five. plus is there anything else you could use besides sodium citrate to decrease the acticity?

  • Dippin dot

    can you substitute a normal blender for an immersion blender???? please answer ASAP!!!

    • QuantumChef

      Not ideal but it should work if you have the right amount of liquid.

  • Meredith

    would it be possible to use a normal blender instead of an immersion blender?

  • John Masching

    I want to make a sherry vinegar reduction, then spherify it into caviar. I should not need to increase the ph since the vinegar will be reduced, correct? I also want the droplets to be very small to properly mimic true caviar. Any tips on making droplets smaller? I have a caviar box dropper.

    • QuantumChef

      The PH may still be too low even after reducing it so you may have to check it and adjust it. To make them smaller, use a syringe with thin needle. The problem it that it will take you a lot longer to make the caviar.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/owen.langdon Owen Langdon

    Ok so the caviar continues to gel after bathing and quickly looses its liquid core. Is it possible to blast freeze batches and thaw for service and still retain its jelly like shell and liquid center or would the structure just break down as it thaws.

    • QuantumChef

      You can’t freeze them, sorry!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=663520276 Gerardo Gonzalez

    Is there a way to make them last longer? for example with reverse spherification?
    But I´m talking about weeks, I want to give them as gifts….
    Thanks

    • QuantumChef

      Not really. There is a way of stopping the gelling process but you’ll still need to use some kind of preservative. For gifting I would recommend purchasing the flavor pearls and Caviaroli. http://store.molecularrecipes.com/spherification/

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=663520276 Gerardo Gonzalez

        YES… how do I do that? How can I stop the gelling process and what preservative do you recomend?

        I dont find the flavour that I´m looking for (espresso), and I think it would be nicer if I do it myself, and since I´m in mexico its harder to get foreing packages containing food, most of the times they won´t even arrive

      • quips

        I believe they use potassium sorbate (e202).

        • Charlie

          Perfect! Do you know when they add it in? Do they put in in with the juice before the spherification process or do they add it to the extra liquid in the preserve jars to keep them from drying?