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Calcium Lactate vs. Calcium Lactate Gluconate

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I've recently started experimenting with spherification, and particularly reverse spherification.

I bought calcium lactate and was initially just using this when I was doing reverse spherification, but when I went to my local supplies store recently they suggested I get calcium lactate gluconate as well - although they were a bit vague on why I'd use this in preference to calcium lactate, saying only that it was "better".

Would anyone mind telling me what the 'gluconate' bit adds or changes to calcium lactate? Is there a rule about when I would use one over the other?

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From the Cooking Issues Hydrocolloids Primer:

Different recipes specify the use of different calcium salts. The three most common are calcium chloride, calcium lactate, and calcium lactate gluconate. Calcium chloride is 36% calcium, is inexpensive, and is very soluble in water, but has a terrible taste. Calcium lactate is 13% calcium, is more expensive, and is not nearly as soluble as calcium chloride, but it tastes much better. Calcium lactate gluconate, or calcium gluconate, is only 9% calcium, is much more expensive than the others, and is not very soluble—it needs to be dissolved in hot water, but is flavorless. In recipes, calcium chloride baths are usually between 0.8 – 1.5%. Calcium lactate and calcium gluconate are usually used in quantities between 2–5%.

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The lactate-gluconate is pretty much undetectable taste-wise, the lactate slightly less so but still infinitely better than calcium chloride (which is absolutely horrible). Other than that, in some cases you may need to use a little more lactate-gluconate as it contains less calcium by volume than lactate. I've rarely found that necessary in real-world use though. Usually you can 1:1 lactate and lactate-gluconate. There will be very few (if any) cases where you will notice the difference taste-wise in actual use so I would disagree that you actually "need" both. If you're uncomfortable with having to make an adjustment and/or will be extremely disappointed over failures if something happens to not 1:1, having both means you can just exactly follow established and tested recipes designed for either.

Edit: should have known the CI guys would already have it covered... good find Chris!

Edited by Tri2Cook (log)

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Very interesting - I was wondering the same thing a few months ago and googled around to find an answer. I made some notes that the combination of calcium lactate and calcium gluconate is especially soluble, which is the opposite of what the CI text listed above says. I wish I made a note of where I read it, so I can compare sources. Unless it was referring to solution clarity, rather than solubility. If calcium lactate gluconate makes a clearer (ie more transparent) solution then I can see why it would be preferred for spherification. So now I'm wondering why one source is saying the calcium lactate gluconate is especially soluble, while another says it isn't...

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Thanks very much for all the information!

ChrisZ - I came across the exact same information about CLG being more soluble than CL. I saw it in this post on the eGullet forums: http://egullet.org/p1520456. It lists this PDF as one of its sources: http://www.jungbunzl...onate_Aug02.pdf.

That PDF states:

CLG has the highest solubility of all commonly used calcium salts

This seems (from my understanding anyway) to contradict the Cooking Issues Hydrocolloid Primer that Chris Hennes linked to above. However I haven't read either in full yet - tonight's job!

Also, for what it's worth, the cost difference between the two was negligible when I bought it - it worked out to be AUD$0.01/g more expensive for CLG than CL.

So I'd be curious to know which is correct too - I now have both CL and CLG so I might just try running a little experiment myself to see which seems to be more soluble.

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I learned yesterday that CLG is used in many drink formulations for weight loss, weight gain, protein drinks, and etc. A friend of a neighbor used to own a body-building supplement company and CLG was incorporated into their various mixes because it remains in solution and helps other mineral salts to also remain in solution instead of rapidly precipitating out after being liquidized in COLD liquids.

He says it is especially effective in liquids that contain a significant amount of acid (fruit juices) where other calcium salts will not only precipitate out but will actually clump in the presence of acid and also with certain proteins and fats.

The subject came up because I was showing the forum to some of my neighbor's guests on an iPad and this guy saw the topic title.

He also said that it is also often combined with magnesium because the combination has a higher absorption rate - to replenish electrolytes - than the minerals alone.

He's not a chemist but has a degree in physiology and studied the activity of minerals etc., in the body. I think he is going to join the forum as the list of topics sounded interesting.

I realize this doesn't answer your specific questions but I learned something and thought you might find it somewhat interesting.

Edited by andiesenji (log)

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Hello Everyone.. my 1st post..

Its very hard to get these ingredients in Hong Kong so I'm actually having these ordered on Amazon and getting my friend to help me bring these back.. so, I'm trying to buy as least as possible too keep his free couriering services indefinite, thus i need your experiences in helping me get the correct ingredients for Spherification.

from what i have read and deduced (from www.molecularrecipes.com):

Calcium Chloride is for Basic Spherification, and does not taste so good.

Calcium Lactate less bitter and dissovles in Fat. and used in Reverse Spherification

Calcium Lactate Gluconate, for high Acid, no tastes, alcohol and fats are good.... Reverse Spherification..

So, my questions are:

#1, can Calcium Lactate Gluconate be use for both Reverse AND Basic Spherification?

#2 If CLG is can be used for Basic Spherification, i would only need the one calcium - CLG ?


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Short answer is yes, just the CLG will cover all jobs including the standard spherification. The slightly longer answer is that it may require a little experimenting on your part when substituting in a recipe based on one of the other options. Also, unless it's just in the interest of following a recipe exactly, there's no benefit to even using the standard spherification. I don't do much of it anymore, for me it was more about wanting to learn how than actually having much actual use for it, but I pretty much adapted all of the recipes I was doing to the "reverse" method.

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