Carrot Caviar

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Introduction: Carrot Caviar

There is a movement in the cooking world called "Molecular Gastronomy." The term was coined by Herve This, and become associated with chefs like Ferran Adria at El Bulli, Wylie Dufresne at wd~50, Grant Achatz at Alinea, and Homaru Cantu at Moto. Here is an interesting article in the New York Times.

Essentially, it involves applying scientific techniques and methodologies to the cooking process. One of the interesting results is found in the use of common substances to control the texture of foods, often in surprising ways.

You don't need a chemistry lab to pull off such effects. Jump on board the Molecular Gastronomy train by making up some carrot caviar in your own kitchen.

Here's a quick video of me making Carrot Caviar at Maker Faire 2008:


Step 1: Assemble Your Tools and Ingrediants

Round up a few bowls and a strainer in your kitchen. In addition, you need some more unusual gadgets:

A Very Accurate Scale
I chose this one. My criteria were 1) It is accurate to 0.1 grams, and 2) It looked more like a kitchen scale than a drug scale. It also had a bunch of nice features (counting, for instance) that I may never use.

Immersion Blender (optional)
You can use a regular blender, but the immersion version is nice because you get less air whipped into your solution.

Syringe (optional)
I got these the same place I got the chemicals (below). I have also heard of people using traditional squirt bottles, like the red and yellow ones that are traditional for ketchup and mustard. The syringe makes me feel more like a real chemist.

For ingredients, you will need:

250 g Carrot Juice ( some nice Odwalla Juice from the local store)
500 g Water (from my local tap)
2.0 g Sodium Alginate
2.5 g Calcium Cloride

These last two are both a bit unusual. I ordered from Le Sanctuaire, which is based in San Francisco. There are other suppliers, like Texturas (Europe), L'Epicerie (in the US). L'Epicerie has a fabulous looking pipette for making cavier on an industrial scale.

Step 2: Mix the Carrot Juice and Sodium Alginate

This step calls for :

250 g carrot juice
2.0 g sodium alginate

Measure out 100 g of carrot juice (I used a plastic measuring cup on the scale). Mix in the sodium alginate and blend. Then mix in the rest of the carrot juice and set aside. Any air bubbles you've added my mixing will take a while to dissipate.

Step 3: Mix the Calcium Chloride and Water

This step calls for :

500 g water
2.5 g calcium chloride

Dissolve the calcium chloride in the water. I used room temperature water.

Step 4: Let Stand

I waited about 10 minutes at this point to let the air escape from the carrot solution, and to let everything chill out. I'm not sure if this is really necessary.

Step 5: Drop Carrot Juice Into Water

Suck up a bunch of carrot juice mixture into your syringe (or squirt bottle). Put a strainer in the bowl with the calcium chloride solution, so that it is mostly submerged.

Slowly squirt drops of the carrot mixture into the strainer in the bowl. You can control the size of the drops by the amount of pressure you put on the plunger. I was trying to make the drops about the size of salmon eggs.

Here's a nice YouTube video of someone doing this with blueberry syrup and a very fine syringe.


Step 6: Set

Let the cavier set for 30-45 seconds. The amount of time you wait determines the thickness of the skin on the cavier. Ideally, you want a cavier that holds together, but "pops" in your mouth.

Watch this video while you wait:

Step 7: Rinse

Move the strainer with the caviar from the calcium cloride solution into a bath of regular water.

Step 8: Enjoy

I made this interesting Martini, but the sky's the limit. I'm thinking of making a sushi-style preparation, with various caviars in place of real fish eggs.

There are other shapes being made with the same formulation. A "skinless ravioli" can be made with a tablespoon of solution and a noodle shape is also possible with the syringe.

Apparently, this caviar is heat resistant, so you could drop it into hot soup, for instance.

Ideally, this dish should be made en minute. After a night in the refrigerator, my caviar become solid-ish all the way through. While that was perfectly edible, and tasty, the texture wasn't nearly as engaging as when it was fresh.

A bunch of similar recipes can be found in:
The Hydrocolloid Recipe Collection

I like this DVD called "Decoding Ferran Adria."

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    103 Discussions

    Cool instructable. One question, could you do this with other juices like strawberry, blackberry, or orange?

    3 replies

    Yes, although more acidic juices are tricky. With other juices, I've used sodium citrate to contral acidity.

    btw...thats how they make synthetic seeds as well using sodium aliginate or similar substances to cover plant embryos .

    I got them at Le Sanctuaire, here:

    http://www.le-sanctuaire.com/index.html

    Probably not the cheapest, but local to me. You could also try here:
    http://www.willpowder.net/sodiumAlginate.html

    or even Amazon.

    Oh dear lord.
    In the middle of doing this right now.
    DEFINITELY not as easy as it seems.

    THis is awesomee!! and Btw, did anybody else notice the boy at 2:12 in the video...? haha

    I think the new "Passionfruit Pop Boba" at the Each A Cup bubble tea chain in Singapore are basically this stuff. I had some yesterday and they're awesome. Thanks for the recipe, will try making some at home if I can locate the alginate for a reasonable price.

    By the way, as a biologist I'm very amused to see a 96-well multichannel pipette for kitchen use...

    Made the carrot style, Worked Great! Did a careful measure as recommended, tho we made half the amount. Also, we added alginate to the carrot with a small battery whisk running keeping it agitated. No problems, except for cleaning out 5% of the 96 little pipettes that clogged.

    that's very disturbing... considering that carrots don't have eggs.

    I did something similar last week with coffee, to make Sumatra caviar.

    A full set of pics and instructions is here, and here's a pic of the final result:

    Among the differences in our technique was that I heated the alginate mixture, which was according to the recipe I was following, but also I used hot liquid, which as it turns out, was probably not the best of ideas.

    Also, I did my measurements in standard U.S. cooking measures (teaspoons, tablespoons, cups, etc. just because it was easier than breaking out the real scale.)

    That said, with a little improvisation (and some added chocolate) the resulting coffee caviar turned out fairly well for a first try.

    2202370833_d2d53eb241_o.jpg
    1 reply

    the sago variation does not leave a juicy center, instead it just gelatinizes the entire thing.

    OK so I tried this. granted I didn't measure everything perfect, but I just wanted to test first. I used grape juice instead of carrot juice. I put the alginate in the juice, the cal chloride (it's cheap at a beer making store) in the water, and then just water. when I driped the juice mix in the cal clor it just disputed, no ball, or form. I tried adding more alginate and cal chor to see if I was just too low. will that happen if the mix is off? please help, aright me at phycoinveter@gmail.com

    2 replies

    The problem with molecular gastronomy is that sometimes you have to be really precise. I suggest 200 g of water to 2.0 g of sodium alginate to achieve the ideal molarity for the solution. Also, you have to take in account that grape juice has a much higher pH level than carrot juice does. I don't know if that is a factor, but a difference in pH can either cause the sodium alginate and calcium chloride to create a salt lattice bond, or not. Pay attention to the concentrations in your solution. And if the acidity does pose a problem, nuetralize the grape juice with a base, also buy some pH strips. And don't dip them into the solution, as they will leave a strange taste, rather drop the nuetralized grape juice onto the ph strip.

    Most likely its the fact that you added alginate to the juice. its the opposite, adding juice to the alginate. (Take a look at the video)