Cocktail Pearls is made thanks to the process of reverse spherification. Uh? Spherification? Reverse? What are the ingredients used to do this? Is it natural? Is it magic?
Some clues of the process…
Sodium alginate, mixed with calcium, forms calcium alginate, which is a a water-insoluble, gelatinous, transparent substance.
Sodium alginate is extracted from brown seaweed. It is a stabilizer for ice cream, yogurt, cream, and cheese. It is a thickener and emulsifier for salad, pudding, jam, tomato juice, and canned products.
Calcium chloride is often used in the cheese-making process.
So, spherification is the process of creating a gelatinous membrane to encase a sphere of liquid. A liquid such as fruit or vegetable juice is mixed with sodium alginate and then dropped into a bath of water and calcium chloride.
A variation of direct spherification is reverse or inverse spherification (either term can be used). In this process, originally developed for foods that are high in calcium such as milk or yogurt, the liquid food is mixed with calcium chloride and “cooked” in a sodium alginate bath. Inverse spherification allows the item to hold its jellification, which you would be unable to control in basic spherification. As the Alginate fails to penetrate the sphere in this method, jellification only occurs on the surface.
And as a conclusion, a video on the man who had made accesible this technique to the world…