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Foodie Moment

Spherification and Gelling of Oils?

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Hi all,

I desperately want to make olive oil spheres (caviar or pearls) that look nice and clear. Similarly, I would like to be able to create firm gelatinous olive oil cubes. The same applies to other oils, like truffle oil, for example.

I know the spheres are possible, because I had them at elBulli last month:

16581052.jpg

The problem, of course, is that spherification and gelling agents are all hydrocolloids, meaning they absorb water for hydration, but not oil.

I tried adding an equal amount of water and emulsifying the oil/water mixture (sodium alginate as my emulsifier, blended with a hand blender), and while I got a substance that could be spherified, it was white and foamy and lacking in flavor. And my agar agar experiments with olive oil have failed as well. I want the color and translucency of the oil to show insider my spheres. Same for my gels.

Anyone have any experience or suggestions on how to accomplish what I hope to do?

Thanks,

Jake

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According to the Cooking Issues Hydrocolloid Primer, Agar can be used to do oil spherifications:

As a gel that forms quickly upon cooling but does not melt easily, agar is a prime candidate for cold-oil spherification. Liquid agar at roughly 45 to 50°C is dropped into cold oil where it solidifies into balls. These balls are rinsed with hot water and served.

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According to the Cooking Issues Hydrocolloid Primer, Agar can be used to do oil spherifications:

As a gel that forms quickly upon cooling but does not melt easily, agar is a prime candidate for cold-oil spherification. Liquid agar at roughly 45 to 50°C is dropped into cold oil where it solidifies into balls. These balls are rinsed with hot water and served.

Thanks. I've seen that blog entry but the phrasing is misleading. What it describes is using cold oil to spherify (if that's even a word) an aqueous solution containing agar agar. The cold oil, ideally infused with an emulsifier, such as glycerol, is used to spherify the agar-based solution, and not to spherify the oil itself. The oil plays the same role here as a calcium chloride solution plays in spherification with a sodium alginate based source, and the residual oil is washed off with hot water.

See here for more detail (also from the Cooking Issues blog).

Jake

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Ah, that makes more sense: so in this case the oil is really just there to cool down the solution quickly? Bummer, that's no help in your quest for oil spherification then. A few sources on the web seem to indicate that the "Texturas" kit Adria sells enables spherification of oils, but I can't find anything in the product literature itself to back that up.

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Chris,

The only other reference I found was in an article discussing the Harvard series on new cooking techniques being held this semester, and it suggested a few grains of salt in olive oil and agar would do the trick, but I can't understand how.

Alex and Aki from Ideas in Food sent me a note saying that their approach has been to make an olive oil consomme and setting that, and then coating the result with actual olive oil right before serving to fool the tongue. Interesting solution that I will need to try.

Anyone know how to make an olive oil consomme?

Jake

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Completely out of my head and not tried it.

When I wanted to make truffle oil ice cream I used Sucro and Glice from Texturas to emulsify oil and water into a cream equivalent that then was used to make the ice cream.

If you did something similar you could try one of the following:-

a) High calcium in the water fraction and drop the emulsion into an alginate solution

(Freezing the spheres before may help)

b) Alginate or Gellan in the water fraction dropped into a high calcium salt water bath

Or perhaps freeze drops of oil at v low temp, the paint with calcium gloconate (or chloride but taste issues) solution, if the drops are v cold you should be able to paint on and it will freeze, you may need several coats if your not using liquid nitrogen. Keep frozen then drop into a alginate bath to spherify (Thinking would an emulsion batch work here ?)

Just some ideas, sorry have not been able to do the work, just throwing some ideas at you.


Edited by ermintrude (log)

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Jordi Cruz has a recipe for this in his book "Logical Cuisine."

While not feeling that I can put the whole method here for reasons of copyright, he uses gelatin, mineral water, xanthan gum, sodium alginate and sodium citrate in a chloride bath.

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Completely out of my head and not tried it.

When I wanted to make truffle oil ice cream I used Sucro and Glice from Texturas to emulsify oil and water into a cream equivalent that then was used to make the ice cream.

If you did something similar you could try one of the following:-

a) High calcium in the water fraction and drop the emulsion into an alginate solution

(Freezing the spheres before may help)

b) Alginate or Gellan in the water fraction dropped into a high calcium salt water bath

Or perhaps freeze drops of oil at v low temp, the paint with calcium gloconate (or chloride but taste issues) solution, if the drops are v cold you should be able to paint on and it will freeze, you may need several coats if your not using liquid nitrogen. Keep frozen then drop into a alginate bath to spherify (Thinking would an emulsion batch work here ?)

Just some ideas, sorry have not been able to do the work, just throwing some ideas at you.

Thanks for the suggestions. I'll give this a try the next time I'm in my test kitchen.

Another idea that came from a person who studied for a month at the Alicia Foundation was to use Iota Carrageenan. I'll check that out too.

Jake

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Jordi Cruz has a recipe for this in his book "Logical Cuisine."

While not feeling that I can put the whole method here for reasons of copyright, he uses gelatin, mineral water, xanthan gum, sodium alginate and sodium citrate in a chloride bath.

Well, I have been scouring regular and specialty book stores (Kitchen Arts & Letters and CHIPS Books, as well as some overseas stores) and the word I get is that Cruz' book is no longer in circulation because the publisher went out of business.

I've looked on eBay too - no joy.

Might I ask, how involved the recipe is? I should add that ingredient listings and simple individual recipes are not covered by copyright, incidentally - see http://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/faq-protect.html, fourth item down. The question is whether there's enough prose to make this particular recipe subject to copyright law or not, although even then, under the Fair Use Doctrine there would be an allowance to share it for instructional purposes.

Let me know if you are, based on the above (both my attempts to secure my own copy and under copyright law), any less uncomfortable about sharing the details of Cruz' recipe.

Thanks,

Jake


Edited by Foodie Moment (log)

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Hi. The olive oil spheres they serve at elBulli, if I remember correctly from what I learned at Alicia, are a two-phase system with regular (or rather, high-quality but not amended by anything else) liquid olive oil on the inside and an alginate skin on the outside. They accomplish this using a specialized, high-pressure pump that generates drops of olive oil surrounded by a liquid alginate solution , which drip through a calcium bath that sets the skin. They have some way of forcing two liquid streams together so that one ends up inside the other, which is how they get the liquid oil centers. Not sure how you'd do it at home but thought the info might be clarifying.

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Hi. The olive oil spheres they serve at elBulli, if I remember correctly from what I learned at Alicia, are a two-phase system with regular (or rather, high-quality but not amended by anything else) liquid olive oil on the inside and an alginate skin on the outside. They accomplish this using a specialized, high-pressure pump that generates drops of olive oil surrounded by a liquid alginate solution , which drip through a calcium bath that sets the skin. They have some way of forcing two liquid streams together so that one ends up inside the other, which is how they get the liquid oil centers. Not sure how you'd do it at home but thought the info might be clarifying.

Ah - that would explain the mystery machine I found a video of here from someone's visit to the Alicia Foundation last year. I wonder how they manage to prevent gravity or the impact of the droplets from dispersing the alignate skin. Yeah - no way to do that at home, I think. Dang. I will have to improvise. But heck, experimentation is fun, right? :-)

Jake

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I think they are planning to sell the caviar commercially (at least, I've seen a mock-up of the packaging). Also, they had a video of the equipment set-up for making it at Ferran Adria's harvard talk in September, which I believe is available online. For inspiration, if you like.

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Jordi Cruz has a recipe for this in his book "Logical Cuisine."

While not feeling that I can put the whole method here for reasons of copyright, he uses gelatin, mineral water, xanthan gum, sodium alginate and sodium citrate in a chloride bath.

Well, I have been scouring regular and specialty book stores (Kitchen Arts & Letters and CHIPS Books, as well as some overseas stores) and the word I get is that Cruz' book is no longer in circulation because the publisher went out of business.

I've looked on eBay too - no joy.

Ignore this post if you have already checked these out.

Infusions Ltd , a UK site, lists the book as available

Virtue Books, an NZ site also lists the book as available (but for NZ$195)

BuchGourment has it listed as a pre-order (although if the publisher went out of business I don't quite see how that would work).

I only understand bits of Spanish where it overlaps with French, but:

Agapea, a spanish language site, appears to have the English version of the book available

As does Temario-Oposiciones

Hope this helps somewhat.

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Thanks. I contacted BuchGourmet and they said the publisher was still in business and would let me know once the book was back in stock.

Jake

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Foodie Moment and other forum partners,

The process for obtaining the olive oil spheres requires an specific equipment and it is not a traditional spherification.

This is an encapsulation in which olive oil is retained inside alginate.

Best regards,

Ramon Ramon

www.caviaroli.com

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Not exactly what you are looking for, but in A Day at elBulli there is a recipe for pumpkin seed oil encapsulated in a thin layer of isomalt caramel. Might be an avenue worth exploring.

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On the topic of cold oil spherification mentioned earlier in this thread, I have heard that it allows spherification of very acidic liquids. Can this process be used to spherify things like lemon juice? Does anyone here have experience with this method? I know almost nothing about it.

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I've used the technique to make gin & tonic spheres, and it worked really well. The texture is not the same as other spherification, as you're making an agar jelly in the shape of a sphere so it still has the texture of agar, but i still liked them.

According to the hydrocolloid recipe collection Agar is suitable for pH between 2.5 and 10, so some very acidic liquids might start falling outside that range (i think lime juice can be as low as 2) but I'm sure with some experimentation and perhaps an increased % agar you could get some nice results :)

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For acidic foods, like orange juice or Balsamic vinegar, I have used reverse spherification - adding calcium chloride to my source liquid, and then spherifying in a bath of aqueous sodium alginate. Works for sources high in calcium too, like liquified mozzarella.

Jake

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