Introduction: Juicy Spheres Snack - Easy Kitchen Science
This is an easy, fun way to play with your food! If you have picky kids, you could do some juicing of fruits and veggies and then create these "caviar" jellies out of it.
This only involves two ingredients! ...and a cup of oil!
If you've never heard of molecular gastronomy, it involves food science & modern innovative methods of transforming everyday ingredients. These transformations involve a variety of methods and sometimes specialized equipment and special ingredients that will trigger a physical or chemical change.
In this Instructable, we will be doing a very easy and simplified method involving spherification. Spherification will allow us to change the shape and makeup of our liquid into perfectly round little spheres. There are a variety of methods used for this one technique, and the outcomes will vary greatly. This method of spherification, being simplified, will involve transforming a liquid into these perfectly round flavorful jellies!
Other common methods, if you really enjoy experimenting with Molecular Gastronomy, will involve other gelling agents: sodium alginate and calcium lactate as well as others. Those are not at all required for our Instructable. If you've never done anything like this before and you love what you make through this Instructable, you may want to buy some other ingredients and try some more advanced techniques later on. With this method, it creates spheres with a texture similar to jellied cranberries - a bit soft but jelled. In a more advanced technique, requiring some other ingredients, you can do a spherification process that creates similar looking spheres, with a thin outer membrane, and full liquid contained within it. This Instructable isn't for that method, but this is a great introductory lesson into some food science!
Step 1: Cold Oil Spherification - Super Easy Molecular Gastronomy Spheres
- Agar Agar - 1/4 teaspoon
- Liquid - 1/3 C + 1 1/2 teaspoons (I used a caffeinated V8 Energy Drink!)
- Oil - I used Vegetable
Equipment & Tools:
- Measuring cups & spoons
- A tall glass
- Candy thermometer
- A dropper or syringe type tool
- Sieve & Bowl
Substitution: Although I've currently only used Agar Agar to create these spheres, I have found a tutorial online that is similar to mine, except she used Gelatin. Here is a link to the tutorial - as the ratios are different than mine. So, if you really want to try this out and don't have Agar Agar, you could try using Gelatin. I read on a Molecular Gastronomy site that it would not work. Yet, this other blogger made beautiful coffee caviar and it turned out great! Also, I purchased my Agar Agar from an Asian grocery store.Update Regarding Substitution with Gelatin: I attempted to make spheres using Gelatin (about 1/2 a teaspoon) and it did not work for me. The next time I try to do it, I will try it out using the ratios from the recipe I linked to above, since it worked for her.
Notes about Liquid: Feel free to use any type of liquid you like, from coffee, wine, whiskey, soda or super healthy juiced fruits and veggies. When you see my photos and notice I have some yellow spheres, it was from an experiment with a thicker liquid - a purée of mangoes. I do not recommend a thick liquid at all because it won't form the perfectly round spheres like the thinner liquids. It will create odd-shaped spheres, a bit of an odd texture and the only way I found to fix it is to add water. Adding water dilutes the flavor of it, so it would be better to use a thinner liquid. It's ok to simmer your liquid down to let some water evaporate and condense its flavor, just be sure you have the right amounts needed when you're ready to do this project.
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Step 2: First Step to Cold Oil Spherification - Simple Prep
This step if very simple. Fill a tall glass with some oil. I used vegetable oil. Place that glass in your freezer for 30 minutes to one hour. Check on it after about 30 minutes, as you don't want it to freeze all the way through. You just need it to be really cold when it's time for you to create these spheres.
Next, measure out your liquid and you can place it in a saucepan. Then, measure out your Agar Agar. Now that you are ready to go, you just need to wait a tiny bit longer until your oil is nice and cold. Once it is cold and its been in there at least 30 minutes, you can begin.
Step 3: DIY Molecular Gastronomy Simple Spheres
If you want to add any sugar or sweetener to your liquid, feel free to do that. Then measure out the liquid and pour it into the saucepan. Then pour in the Agar Agar and whisk briskly. Turn the heat up on the saucepan and bring it to a boil, whisking until then.
Once it is brought up to a boil, you can turn the heat off and take it off of that burner. Put your thermometer in the saucepan to monitor the temperature of the liquid. It may take a few minutes or more to lower the temperature enough. You will want it to be lowered to around 120-130 deg. F (50-53 deg. C). Now, take your cup of oil out of the freezer.
Step 4: Transforming Liquid Into Spheres
Once the temperature of the liquid is lowered enough, be sure to have the cold cup of oil and dropper or syringe nearby. Take the dropper and hold it up above the cup at least a few inches - and drop away. You can do this surprisingly fast with just squeezing the liquid out of the dropper - they form so perfectly. If they are all floating near the top, you should try to hold your dropper up even higher so the force of the drop will help the spheres to fall to the bottom of the cup. It's ok if some of them float on the top - sometimes that happens with smaller spheres or when you first start dropping them in.
Try to work fast because things might change if the oil warms too much or the liquid cools too much. I didn't intent on making so many mini spheres but that happened as a result of changing temperatures. If you have kids around, this is the really fun part. If you're just an adult who gets a kick out of kitchen experimentation (like I do) then do this yourself!
Step 5: Rinse the Spheres or Juicy Caviar & Discard or Save the Oil
Now place a bowl in the sink and take a sieve and place it above the bowl. Gently pour the spheres and oil into the bowl. Some people pour the spheres into a bowl of water to rinse them, but these are stable enough to be rinsed with a sprayer from the sink. Either way is fine. If you want, you could save the oil you used for when you feel like doing this fun project again - just put it in a mason jar.
Your juicy caviar snacks are all done! You can enjoy them immediately or store them in the fridge, covered. If you want the texture of them to be more dense, just add more Agar Agar and experiment.
Step 6: Enjoy Your Gorgeous Spherical Creation - Juicy Caviar
Enjoy your creation!
Here are some ideas for using these yummy caviar spheres:
- Pour them over some yogurt - yum!
- As a topping on Ice Cream
- In a coconut water drink (that reminds me of those old bottled drinks with spheres in them - remember?)
- On any type of dessert that involves whipped cream
- Use to pair up with a pudding
- You could make honey pearls, which could be a fancy way to sweeten pretty much anything
- Savory - you can make them out of sauces or vinegar for savory options