Strawberry Spheres with Ground Pepper


Strawberry Spheres with Ground Pepper
A simple spherification recipe to make strawberry spheres that explode in the mouth! Great for kids and very versatile. In this recipe we just serve them with ground pepper but the strawberry spheres can be used as a filling in a sponge cake, as a surprise inside some chocolate air or as garnish for many desserts such as chocolate mousse. Be creative and share with us your ideas in the comment section!

Ingredients

Strawberry Spheres

  • 250g (8.8 oz) strawberry puree (~300g / 10.6 oz strawberries)
  • 10g (0.35 oz) sugar
  • salt pinch
  • 5g calcium lactate gluconate (2%)
  • Strawberry juice to store the spheres if you are not planning to consume them within a few hours.

Garnish

  • Coarse ground black pepper

Spherification Bath

  • 1000 g (35 oz) distilled water
  • 5 g sodium alginate (0.5%)

Preparation

Flavored Liquid

  1. Using an immersion blender, puree the strawberries.
  2. Pass the strawberry puree through a fine sieve.
  3. Add the sugar, salt and calcium lactate gluconate. Blend.
  4. Cover in plastic wrap and store it in the fridge overnight to remove the air bubbles.

Spherification Bath

Dispersing and Hydrating Sodium Alginate

  1. Mix the sodium alginate with the distilled water using a blender until the sodium alginate is completely dissolved. If this is your first time doing this, be aware that it may take longer than expected.
  2. Strain the mix and store it in the fridge covered in plastic wrap overnight to eliminate the air bubbles.

Creating Spheres with Reverse Spherification

  1. Get the strawberry puree with calcium content from the fridge, the sodium alginate bath and the 1 Tablespoon measuring spoon to make large spheres.
  2. Prepare another bowl with plain water that you are going to use later for rinsing the spheres to remove the excess of sodium alginate.
  3. Grab the measuring spoon; fill it with the strawberry puree and carefully pour it into the sodium alginate bath. Wipe the bottom with a paper towel, place the spoon over the bath slightly touching its surface and flip it to pour the liquid into the sodium alginate bath.
  4. Stir the bath gently with the slotted spoon without touching the spheres. If you let them sit in the bottom of the bath, they will flatten and if you let them float, the top won’t be covered with the sodium alginate solution and won’t gel. Make sure the spheres don’t touch each other or they will stick. Start with one sphere at a time until you get used to the process. A flat bottomed pan may be better than a bowl if you are planning to make multiple spheres at a time.
  5. Wait for about 2 minutes. The longer you wait the thicker the gel that will form. In general, for a good eating experience, you want the gel layer surrounding the sphere to be as thin as possible but it also needs to be strong enough to hold the shape and allow for careful handling. If the membrane is too fragile, they may easily break when you remove them from the bath or place them on the serving spoon.
  6. Carefully remove the sphere from the sodium alginate bath using a slotted spoon and rinse it in the bowl with clean water.

Cook’s Note

I recommend you always start with one sphere first to adjust the pouring process and the time in the sodium alginate bath. If the sphere membrane is too subtle and the sphere easily breaks when handling it with the slotted spoon carefully or when plating it, extend the time in the calcium bath until you get the desired strength. Keep in mind that the thinner the membrane the better experience people are going to have when eating it.
Storing the Spheres and Preserving the Flavor

One of the biggest benefits of Reverse Spherification is that you can store the spheres to be consumed later. If you leave the spheres in contact with air, the gel will start to dry and eventually break. You need to store them in a liquid bath. However, since the gel membrane around the sphere is permeable to small molecules, osmosis will occur if submerged in water and dilute the flavored liquid inside the sphere. To preserve the flavor, store them in a bath of the same flavored liquid in the fridge, strawberry juice in this case.

Assemble and Serve

  • Place the strawberry spheres on appetizer spoons.
  • Garnish with coarse ground black pepper.
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Reverse Spherical Mozzarellas


Reverse Spherical Mozzarellas
This molecular gastronomy recipe is another creation of Ferran Adria and el Bulli team. This molecular gastronomy recipe is based on the reverse spherification technique and it is one of the most popular spherification dishes.

Ingredients

  • 220 g (7 oz) Buffalo Mozzarella
  • 150 g (5.3 oz) Mozzarella whey (you may need to buy more buffalo mozzarellas to have enough whey)
  • 70 g (2.5 oz) heavy cream
  • 4 g salt

Preparation

  1. Start by preparing the alginate bath. Mix the sodium alginate in the water using an immersion blender until the sodium alginate is completely dissolved. If this is your first time doing this, be aware that this may take longer than expected. Let it rest for 24 hours in the fridge so that the air that has entered the mixture disappears and the sodium alginate is completely rehydrated.
  2. To create the mozzarella mixture start by shredding the mozzarella with your hands and put it in a blender together with the mozzarella whey. Blend it until you obtain a slightly grainy cream.
  3. Boil the heavy cream and add it to the mozzarella mix. Shred in blender for 10 seconds.
  4. Add the salt and mix.
  5. You are now ready to start the spherification process! Remove the alginate bath from the fridge. Scoop the mozzarella mixture with a half sphere 15ml measure spoon and carefully pour it into the alginate bath. It is important that the spherical mozzarellas don’t touch since they would stick together. Leave the spherical mozzarellas “cooking” for about 12 minutes in the alginate bath and then carefully remove them using a slotted spoon.
  6. Then rinse them very gently with water and strain them carefully. If desired they could be stored in a sealed container with water in the fridge. To improve the technique read 10 Tips to Create a Perfect Sphere.

Serving suggestions

  • Serve with peeled tomatoes about the size of the mozzarella spheres and decorate with a basil pesto and a small basil leaf.
  • Serve on a basil jelly, inject tomato water and grind black pepper on top
  • Cover in olive oil and grind black pepper on top

Liquid Olives


Liquid Olives
This molecular gastronomy recipe is another creation of Ferran Adria and el Bulli team. This is one of the first reverse spherification dishes that was introduced at el Bulli in 2005. The spherical olives are based on green olive juice.

The key of this recipe is to find olives that have a great quality juice that tastes great. These olives are not necessary the best olives for eating so try a few varieties until you find the one you like the most. The first time I made this recipe I made the mistake of using average quality olives and the taste was pretty bad. El Bulli recommends Verdial olives, which are thick-skinned, medium to large-sized olives grown for their oil.
I used Greek Mt. Athos olives with garlic and herbs and the taste was delicious. Just keep in mind that the spherification process is not going to make the juice taste better so try it before you start with the process.

Ingredients

Spherical Olive

  • 200 g (7 oz) of olive juice (about 500 g of depitted green olives)
  • 0.75 g xanthan
  • 2 g (1%) calcium lactate gluconate (this is not required in the original recipe from el Bulli but I had to add it to make the spherification process work)

Alginate Bath

  • 1500 g (35 oz) of water
  • 7.5 g sodium alginate

Aromatized Virgin Olive Oil

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Lemon peel
  • Fresh thyme sprigs
  • Fresh rosemary sprigs
  • Garlic cloves
  • Black peppercorns

Preparation

  1. Start by preparing the alginate bath. Mix the sodium alginate in the water using an immersion blender until the sodium alginate is completely dissolved. If this is your first time doing this, be aware that this may take longer than expected. Let it rest for 24 hours in the fridge so that the air that has entered the mixture disappears and the sodium alginate is completely rehydrated.
  2. To prepare the olive juice, puree the depitted olives with a hand mixer and strain the puree through a superbag pressing with the hands. You can try using a blender but because there is no liquid, I couldn’t make it work using my Cuisinart blender. If you don’t have a superbag, you can use a chinois / strainer lined with cheese cloth. In this case you’ll have to press the olive puree with a spatula to get all the juice out. I found it easier to go through the pressing process in small batches but this would depend on the size of your strainer.
  3. Mix the calcium lactate gluconate with the olive juice and then add the xanthan and leave to hydrate for 1 minute. Mix with a blender at medium speed and let it stand in the fridge for 10 minutes. Check the density of the olive juice. It should be dense like a thick sauce. If you scoop up some olive juice and pour it on the surface of the olive juice in the container, it shouldn’t flatten completely right away. If it is too liquid, add some Xanthan in small increments of 0.2 g and repeat the process. Keep in the fridge for 24 hours.
  4. For the aromatized olive oil, crush the garlic lightly and fry it in 20% of the oil you are planning to use to marinate the olives without letting the garlic color. Add the rest of the oil and once it is warm, add the rest of the ingredients. Keep in a sealed container in a cool dry place.
  5. You are now ready to start creating the spheres! Remove the alginate bath from the fridge. Scoop the olive mixture with a half sphere 5ml measure spoon and carefully pour it into the alginate bath. It is important that the spherical olives don’t touch since they would stick together. Leave the spherical olives “cooking” for about 2½ minutes in the alginate bath and then carefully remove it using a slotted spoon. Then rinse them very gently with water, strain them carefully and place them, not touching each other, in the aromatized oil. Keep in the fridge for 12 hours. To improve the technique read 10 Tips to Create a Perfect Sphere.

Serving suggestions

  • Serve on appetizer spoons or Chinese soup spoons
  • Serve next to traditional olives. It is fun to compare the flavors.

Spherical Yogurt


Spherical Yogurt
This molecular gastronomy recipe is based on the reverse spherification technique which is great for ingredients rich in calcium like yogurt.

Ingredients

Yogurt Sphere

  • 200 g (7 oz) of plain yogurt (do not use no fat or low fat yogurt because the calcium content is lower. Alternatively you can use no fat but you will have to add calcium gluconate)
  • 90 g (3.2 oz) heavy cream
  • 30 g sugar (1 oz)

Alginate Bath

1500 g (35 oz) of water
7.5 g sodium alginate

Preparation

  1. Start by preparing the alginate bath. Mix the sodium alginate in the water using an immersion blender until the sodium alginate is completely dissolved. If this is your first time doing this, be aware that this may take longer than expected. Let it rest for 24 hours in the fridge so that the air that has entered the mixture disappears and the sodium alginate is completely rehydrated.
  2. To create the yogurt mixture just mix all the ingredients together.
  3. You are now ready to start the spherification process! Remove the alginate bath from the fridge. Scoop the yogurt mixture with a half sphere 5ml measure spoon and carefully pour it into the alginate bath. It is important that the yogurt spheres don’t touch since they would stick together. Leave the yogurt spheres “cooking” for about 2 minutes in the alginate bath and then carefully remove them using a slotted spoon.
  4. Then rinse them very gently with water and strain them carefully. If desired they could be stored in a sealed container with water in the fridge.

Serving suggestions

  • Serve with a raspberry coulis
  • Sprinkle with lemon zest
  • Serve with cucumber slices