Spherical Grape Juice

Fake Caviar. I like grape juice.

After hunting down chemical companies for weeks I finally found one that can help me, and today I cut open the vacuum sealed silver bags for the first time – It is an early Christmas!

Spherical Grape Juice

With a drop of colour PRESTO! You have yourself some fake pomegranate seeds

I get Calcium Alginate all over my hand so try and wash it off, at which point my hand immediately gets covered in slime- I am half super hero with creepy slime ability and half idiot. Great start.

The great restaurant elBulli discovered that if they dissolved Sodium Alginate into one liquid and then dripped it into a Calcium bath the two chemicals would react forming a thin gelatinous skin around the first liquid.

What you then had was a small, round, liquid filled ball, so they called the process spherification, which I guess does sound better than ballification but can seem a little poncy.

Here is what you’ll need:

1g Sodium Alginate
3g Calcium Lactate
255g Juice
510g Cold water
Syringe
Strainer
Straining spoon
Blender

First thing to do is mix the Sodium Alginate into your juice/alcohol/soup/stock. I used Apple juice. I like apples. One day I’ll be more hard core and go for bat’s blood but for today I choose the juice of the innocent apple. This takes longer than expected but a good idea is to mix it into half your juice first and then add the rest to it.

It will thicken your liquid a bit so the trapped bubbles will take a while to escape. Straining this gloopy liquid will help get out the bits of Sodium Alginate that you missed.

While you leave your thickened chemical ridden juice to get rid of its unwanted gas, you can start on your Calcium bath. Some people use Calcium Chloride but I used Calcium Lactate because that’s how I roll. Its takes a minute or two to whisk the 3 grams of chemical into your water.

Its best to leave the juice for a bit before putting it in the chemical bath to get the bubbles out, but it still looks look awesome – that is grape juice!

The next step is to suck up Juice with a syringe and drip it into your Calcium bath. This I have learned is a skill, so easy does it. My first attempt was quite ambitious and I ended up with worm shaped fake caviar. The second thing I learned was that you need a decent scale, or you may fall into the trap I did of adding too much Sodium Alginate. This made my juice quite thick and the bubbles refused to leave no matter how I begged and pleaded. Worse than that, I could not get a perfect sphere. The best I got was a little tear drop shape, probably the scale trying to mock me for trying to improvise.

As soon as you drop in the juice it will start to react with the Calcium bath, and will continue to do so until the entire droplet has gelified. This method is best suited for immediate consumption.

After about a minute or so take your newly formed fake caviar out of the chemical bath with your slotted spoon and put it in some cold water to wash off any excess Calcium Lactate solution.

Then very carefully dry your fake caviar.

Ideally, when you eat it you shouldn’t notice the skin as it bursts in your mouth, so play around with the chemical bath times until you find what works for you.