Sodium alginate is used by molecular chefs in spherification, where it is used to form a gel in the presence of calcium ions. Blend the flavourless seaweed based powder with liquid and purées, and use a syringe to squeeze droplets into water which contains added calcium (using calcium chloride), where they turn into gellified ‘caviar’. Switch around the two ingredients for 'reverse spherification' – using the sodium alginate for the water bath instead, and using calcium lactate blended into the flavoured liquid.
For spherification use 0.5 to 1% of sodium alginate by weight of liquid. To disperse, either add it whilst vigorously stirring the liquid, or mix with another dry ingredient (such as sugar) before adding to the liquid. Because the alginate powder starts gelling in the presence of calcium, do not try to blend into a high calcium liquid, e.g. milk. And alwyas use a low-calcium bottled water, such as Volvic.
Sodium alginate is also used in the food industry as a thickener, emulsifier, and texture improver.
Ingredients: Sodium alginate E401
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