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Sodium Alginate and other compounds

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
Hi to all the Chefs out there,

This season's edition of Sizzle included a recipe for making "beet caviar" utilizing pureed beets, sodium alginate, and a water/calcium chloride bath. I saw this procedure done by Chef Morimoto on Iron Chef America, and with a detailed recipe in my hands, I could not resist the urge to get a little experimental.

I ordered some Calcium Chloride and Sodium Alginate, but I was wondering if there are any other interesting uses for these ingredients other then caviar. Are there any other fun compounds to get experimental with?

Anything at all is appreciated, I am just doing this for a little fun in my spare time.
post #2 of 13
Hi Ras1187,

Sodium alginate is a very interesting gelling agent. Alginate dissolved in water and will gel almost instantly if calcium ions (from calcium chloride) is added to the mixture.

I don't know the recipe you are making but for example you can add alginate to a vegetable purée (let's say green pea). Let large yolk size drops fall in a solution of calcium chloride and the result is an egg yolk effect. The purée will look like a intact egg yolk. Purée incased in a gelled purée membrane wall.

Other uses: thickening ice cream mixtures, cream, ice pops, gelato, sherbert, patés, gummy candy, chocolate centers, etc...

If you want to be adventurous, you can make body cast moulds (it is use in dentistry and movie make-up effects)

Luc H.
I eat science everyday, do you?
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I eat science everyday, do you?
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post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 
Actually the recipe I am going to try to replicate is very similar to this. Puree cooked beets with some of the cooking liquid, add the sodium alginate to it and drip it into a water/calcium chloride bath.

Iron Chef Morimoto actually pulled this off as "faux caviar" to top a piece of sushi he was making in a beet themed battle. I thought it was a very clever use of the theme ingredient.

Thank you for the suggestions, I am really gonna try to get experimental and have fun with it. For every 10 failures or so, I should have 1 thing that tastes pretty good.
post #4 of 13
Thread Starter 
I received my compounds in today, I have beets cooking in port and brown sugar... I hope this turns out.
post #5 of 13
Let me know how it turns out.

I was going to try something similar with blueberry syrup, the recipe is here:
blog.khymos.org » Blog Archive » First experiments with sodium alginate
post #6 of 13
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the website, that actually helped out alot.

The whole process was actually easier then I was anticipating. I used a plastic squeeze bottle and was happy with the results, however the syringe definitely looks like it would yield better results
post #7 of 13
Can you post a picture of yours?
post #8 of 13
Thread Starter 
When I make more I'll take some pics.

I had a blast at work today since we were slow. If you squeeze some of the beet mixture onto a spoon and then submerge it, you can get a much larger pouch, however the larger you make them the more fragile they are. I think if I thickened the mix a little bit by using less pureeing liquid or a pinch more algimate, I might be onto something.

Buffalo sauce, BBQ sauce, and Hawaiian Punch did not yield good results (but was fun to mess around with).

The buffalo sauce is too thin and dissolved into the liquid, I wonder what would happen if I thickened it with a slurry or reduced it a little bit (I think Buffalo Pouches would be awesome). BBQ was a little better because it is thicker, but the pouches would not hold on their own while fishing them out (and having brown specks floating around in water did not looks that appealing). Hawaiian punch was too thin to hold on its own.
post #9 of 13
Was the with the spoon or the dropper? Do you think it would if with the dropper (bbq caviar)?
post #10 of 13
Thread Starter 
I did the BBQ sauce with a squeeze bottle, the pouches formed, but fell apart when fishing them out. I am going to doublecheck my measurements and try this one again.

Raspberry vinaigrette seperated (as I suspected) into the water.

Up next, Red Peppers.
post #11 of 13
My BBQ caviar came out:
Good Ole BBQ - ChefTalk Photo Gallery

I reduced it by boiling it on med for 15 minutes, that made it a little too thick, probably could have done 10min.

The bbq pouches broke too easiliy and didn't taste that good either.

I used Aurthur Bryant's sweet heat sauce, but recommend going with something a little stronger, like Aurthur Bryant's Original or any of the Gates sauces. Also I used bottled water instead of tap water.

I hypothesize you can make the caviar out of any liquid if you have the right viscosity, in the link above with the recipe, the syrupy ingrediant must be the limiting factor. If you thicken the rasberry vinegar, possible with a xanthan gum, or maybe use more sodium alginate that should work. (or you might want to try it with balsamic, make a redux first, then thicken that a little bit.
post #12 of 13
Amongst other things, I'm an extended trip backpacker, and this post couldn't help but remind me of "backpacker's Jello". Because you can't count on having cold enough water around to make real Jello as a dessert, the product sold by backpacking food companies used sodium alginate and calcium chloride to do the job. You had to be pretty adroit at the mixing to avoid lumps.

While those products are no longer on the market that I know of, the alginate/calcium gelling mixture is still used in smaller quantities in some backpacker puddings, which pretty much guarentees that they'll set, no matter what the weather, though the texture can be a bit unfamilar.

Our backpacking pudding recipe, by the way, uses 1/3 cup non-dairy creamer, 2/3 cup instant non-fat dry milk, and a four-serving package of instant pudding, all pre-mixed prior to the trip. Works well and tastes better than the backpacking products, offers more flavor choices, and is cheaper.
post #13 of 13
Amongst other things, I'm an extended trip backpacker, and this post couldn't help but remind me of "backpacker's Jello". Because you can't count on having cold enough water around to make real Jello as a dessert, the product sold by backpacking food companies used sodium alginate and calcium chloride to do the job. You had to be pretty adroit at the mixing to avoid lumps.

While those products are no longer on the market that I know of, the alginate/calcium gelling mixture is still used in smaller quantities in some backpacker puddings, which pretty much guarentees that they'll set, no matter what the weather, though the texture can be a bit unfamilar.

Our backpacking pudding recipe, by the way, uses 1/3 cup non-dairy creamer, 2/3 cup instant non-fat dry milk, and a four-serving package of instant pudding, all pre-mixed prior to the trip. Just add water in the field. Works well and tastes better than the backpacking products, offers more flavor choices, and is cheaper.
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