Adventures in molecular gastronomy

Wednesday, 30 July 2014
When Rob from Cream Chargers (also @cream_chargers) was on the look for people to try out their new molecular gastronomy kit I thought it was worth a try.

The kits come with the ingredients below plus a recipe/instruction sheet.  There is calcium lactate, sodium alginate, two pipettes and a syringe.

The instructions are clear and provide two recipes - one for a melon spherification and the other for minted pea puree.

I'm not a melon fan and I was keen to go for a sweeter option than the peas, so I did a bit of research online.  There are quite a few different recipes out there.  The one that initially appealed to me was this coconut cream spherification recipe.  I had wanted to use these with pineapple juice to make a kind of alcohol free pina colada.  I attempted to make it on Sunday.  It was an absolute failure and I'm not sure why.  The bath ended up like some kind of quite thick wallpaper paste and the liquid was just too liquid to really become anything.  I have no doubt that this was my failure rather than anything else - trying to run before I could walk no doubt!  So next, I thought that going with a basic juice recipe would work better and was intrigued by this one: -

Cranberry juice and soda water is my tipple of choice if we are in a pub and I'm not drinking so this seemed like an interesting idea.  Rob helpfully supplied me with the following recipe: -

250ml cranberry juice (I used Co-op's)
100ml hot water
sugar to taste (I actually didn't add any)
2.5g sodium alginate

For the calcium bath - 500ml of water and 5g of calcium lactate.

I gently heated the cranberry juice, water and alginate to help to mix it and made use of a hand blender to disperse the alginate thoroughly.  It does look rather strange to begin with, with lots of white bits in it.  I heated gently for a couple of minutes and then put to one side for an hour to allow the bubbles to disperse/the mixture to cool.

The calcium bath was also left to the side for an hour.

Then let the fun begin!  I started with the pipette but graduated quite quickly to the syringe.  I found the best way to get larger bubbles was to drop from quite a height and to press down fairly constantly.  This took quite some time.

At several intervals, it was time to remove the spheres from the bath and put it in clean water to remove the calcium. I should note that I struggled to do this with my slotted spoon - I've seen spoons with smaller holes available in other kits that might have been quite helpful - but recognise that this would bump up the price of the kit.  

I then added to sparkling water for a slightly more unusual version of my usual drink of choice.  Look how pretty!

All in, this was an interesting experiment.  I think I probably made quite a lot of mistakes along the way - my final spheres didn't really burst as they should have done - I think this might have been because I left it too long either in the calcium bath or the water.  These were more like jellies.  Something to have another go at possibly.

For the foodie in your life, this would make an interesting gift - at a penny shy of £8 it's a bit of a stocking filler.

I was sent this product to try free of charge but encouraged to review honestly.  All words and pictures are my own.  

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