Introduction: Carrot Caviar

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of Rinse

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

Step 8: Enjoy

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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."


n8man (author)2008-11-16

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

mzed (author)n8man2008-11-17

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

n8man (author)mzed2008-11-17

What about carbonated juices?

bpersun (author)n8man2012-09-20

sromes1 (author)2012-02-06

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

abeazley (author)2011-07-19

Where did you get your calcium chloride and sodium alginate?

mzed (author)abeazley2011-07-19

I got them at Le Sanctuaire, here:

Probably not the cheapest, but local to me. You could also try here:

or even Amazon.

CreativeChick8 (author)2011-07-02

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

HannahLegutki (author)2010-12-29

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

xenobiologista (author)2010-12-23

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...

rand0mmm (author)2010-11-22

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.

carpfluff (author)2010-04-10

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

SpiderFarmer (author)2008-01-28

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.

Dig-Doug (author)SpiderFarmer2010-03-27


amar55in (author)2009-04-27

hey can u give the recipe of using sago.I mean PLEASE !!?

mzed (author)amar55in2009-04-28

Sodium Alginate is tasteless

Dig-Doug (author)mzed2010-03-27

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

phycoinventer (author)2009-05-11

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

Dig-Doug (author)phycoinventer2010-03-27

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.

Darrick (author)phycoinventer2009-07-09

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)

greenmia (author)phycoinventer2009-05-13

It might be the grape juice...

ampeyro (author)2009-08-30

please, can you post the european suplier again? the link is broken

bad ass pope (author)ampeyro2010-03-19

I just Googled it. I think it's this:

MadBricoleur (author)2009-10-27

Mmmm. Delicious, edible, not to mention homemade

paintballs :D

raimen (author)2009-06-28

could you do this with other types of juices, or just carrot?
*thinks of the limitless possibilities* :D

Azayles (author)2009-06-22

I'm thinking you could mix up some, oh I dunno, raspberry juice or something, then fold it carefully into some melted chocolate and when it sets you'll have chocolates with "explode in the mouth" raspberry bubbles :-D

phenoptix (author)2009-05-14

Thanks for the instructable, I thought this was how el bulli did it. I remember making yeast in alginate in biology at school to. I think melon caviar is quite a popular variation although I'll definitely try this carrot version as well as the coffee version as below. Cheers!

Tool Using Animal (author)2008-01-18

room temp jello shots?

Jello-less jello shots ;-)

Just think, because they'd be "cruelty free" hairy legged vegan chicks can now get drunk with the frat boys. I envision a new era in feminist/frat boy relations.

And you'll unite the geeks and the frat boys, as the frat boys would just screw it up! Soon: world peace!

ELF (author)zachninme2008-01-20

I suggest crossing the vegan girls and geeks (geeks usually don't have too high standards, so hairy legs should be fine ;) ) slowly killing the frat boys race, with the ultimate end result being super intelligent humans in a world of peace... :P

blubrick (author)ELF2008-01-22

Breeding Geeks and Hairy Legged Vegan Girls might seem like a good idea at first, but it will never work. You may be right about Geeks' standards, but it's not the Geeks' standards that were ever likely to be a stumbling block.

The Vegans might not be terribly enamoured with this suggestion. After all, they are used to being rather particular about what they put into their bodies. Fortunately, this same reluctance to introduce unhealthy things into the body also deals with the "I got your protein intake right here!" set quite effectively.

rich_moe (author)blubrick2009-02-18

I've never known a Vegan Girl that was real particular about what they put into their bodies when it is 'natural' (a burning herbal substance that is inhaled comes to mind), this includes homemade alcohol....

ELF (author)blubrick2008-01-23

... So we're gonna have to work out untill we look healthy enough to penetrate the vegans? :S Sounds like a long and tedious process...

MANLY PERSON (author)ELF2008-11-09

But then the muscular nords would come down from the mountains with large spikey armor and big intimidating hammers to smash all you little nerdy kids, then shave your vegan mates and rape them.

gamefreek76 (author)ELF2008-01-27

Us geeks have very high standards, and you'd never catch me dead with a hairy legged vegan chick.

spasysheep (author)gamefreek762008-02-13

Ditto. I'm A Geek, not a nerd - THERE'S A G*DD*MN DIFFERENCE!

ELF (author)gamefreek762008-01-27

I could mention more than a few geeks who wouldn't mind the hairs...

gamefreek76 (author)ELF2008-01-28

I could mind the hairs... not the vegan chick. And you'd be surprised how high my standards are.

incorrigible packrat (author)ELF2008-01-21

Would the vegan girls have a sufficient protein intake to successfully gestate viable offspring? Most vegans, that I have observed, look a little like death warmed over. Then again, there's the matter of the geeks' possible chromosome damage, from exposure to cathode ray tube electromagnetic frequency radiation (before they all got lcd screens), from computer overuse.

ELF (author)incorrigible packrat2008-01-21

Yes, there is the problem with vegan girl malnutrition... That would be have to be solved... About the chromosome damage in the geeks... It's called evolution ;) We're just gonna have to kill the useless offspring...

incorrigible packrat (author)ELF2008-01-22

I'm just waiting for some wag to chime in, saying something like: "I've got some protein for 'em, har, har, har". This would still probably qualify as an animal product though...

ELF (author)incorrigible packrat2008-01-22

"Necessary nutrients, proteins, and amino acids for the body's sustanance can be found in green leafy vegetables, grains, nuts, and fortified juices or soymilkNecessary nutrients, proteins, and amino acids for the body's sustanance can be found in green leafy vegetables, grains, nuts, and fortified juices or soymilk"
But I still don't get why all the vegan people are so skinny... Not slim, but skinny :S Anyway, the ultimate solution seams to be growing more nuts :P

ichihana (author)ELF2008-01-22

But I was born thin T.T when i was 11 and not a vegan I had a BMI of 11% and now that I'm vegan it's up to 16%

ELF (author)ichihana2008-01-22

Hmmm, I wonder how much it would be if you weren't vegan now... Anyway, guess that settles it then! Let vegan women have geeks babies, and let the world be of peace and joy! With carrot caviars for everyone!! :D

incorrigible packrat (author)ELF2008-01-22

Are the "fortified juices" produced from the nuts?

marc92 (author)Tool Using Animal2008-01-21

jello caviar?

westfw (author)Tool Using Animal2008-01-19

Should work. I felt compelled to try it out with my non-food-grade ingredients. Here are Creme de Menthe caviar and a "skinless ravioli." Dissolving the alginate in something alcoholic may be problematic, since I think it requires heating, but it should be pretty easy to dissolve in mixers like sours mix. I taste tested and found it slight salty; margaritas would probably work better than grasshoppers. Note that the pre-hardened mixture has a rather syrup-like consistency that some people might find objectionable in a "beverage."

westfw (author)westfw2008-01-19


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