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TomRahav

Need help with spherical mussels (reverse spherification) recipe

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Hi,

I've tried to make the spherical mussels recipe from the Modernist Cuisine books and it didn't work as I expected, so I would appreciate any advice that may help here.

The recipe calls for calcium gluconate which I couldn't get hold of, so I replaced it with calcium lactate gluconate that I had at home. I used the same ration (2.5%)

When I tried to create the spheres in the sodium alginate bath I encountered two main problems;

1. instead of spheres the mixture just stayed as uneven shape on the surface. The bath was 1Kg. water with 5gr. sodium alginate and I let it rest in the fridge for 24 hours before using it so I think the problem is not here. However, the mussels jus mixture (100gr. mussels jus, 0.5gr. xanthin gum and and 2.5gr. calcium lactate gluconate) had a lot of air bubbles in it. Can that be the issue?

2. In the book the spheres seem to be completely transparent whereas my mussels jus mixture was pretty white and opaque. Is it because I replaced calcium gluconate with calcium lactate gluconate? Or maybe it's because the jus itself should be clarified before it is used?

Thanks in advance for your support,

Tom.

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3 hours ago, TomRahav said:

1. instead of spheres the mixture just stayed as uneven shape on the surface. The bath was 1Kg. water with 5gr. sodium alginate and I let it rest in the fridge for 24 hours before using it so I think the problem is not here. However, the mussels jus mixture (100gr. mussels jus, 0.5gr. xanthin gum and and 2.5gr. calcium lactate gluconate) had a lot of air bubbles in it. Can that be the issue?

Yes, the bubbles could definitely be the issue there -- the goal is to get the jus and the bath to be as close in density as possible. Air bubbles are going to greatly reduce the density of the jus, causing it to float.

 

3 hours ago, TomRahav said:

2. In the book the spheres seem to be completely transparent whereas my mussels jus mixture was pretty white and opaque. Is it because I replaced calcium gluconate with calcium lactate gluconate? Or maybe it's because the jus itself should be clarified before it is used?

It's certainly possible. It's also possible that the team at MC made ten thousand of the things and picked the three clearest ones for the photo :) . The chemistry is beyond me, however, so my only suggestion would be to get yourself some calcium gluconate and try again. Where do you live? There are plenty of sources in the US. 

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5 hours ago, Chris Hennes said:

Yes, the bubbles could definitely be the issue there -- the goal is to get the jus and the bath to be as close in density as possible. Air bubbles are going to greatly reduce the density of the jus, causing it to float.

 

It's certainly possible. It's also possible that the team at MC made ten thousand of the things and picked the three clearest ones for the photo :) . The chemistry is beyond me, however, so my only suggestion would be to get yourself some calcium gluconate and try again. Where do you live? There are plenty of sources in the US. 

I live in Hong Kong and unfortunately couldn't find it easily here. Even online I had a hard time. I will try again though. I will also try to vacuum sous vide the mixture to remove air from it. Thanks anyway for the reply.

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On 9/6/2017 at 5:01 PM, Doofa said:

@TomRahav Can you let us know how you get on with your quest. D

Hi Doofa,

I don't have final results yet, but partial once are encouraging and I am glad to share them with you!

After failing the first time I amended 2 things in my recipe and tried it again. First, I reduced the percentage of the calcium lactate gluconate from 2.5% to 2% because I found over the web that this is the common ratio (it contains different calcium content in comparison to the pure calcium gluconate). Second, I put the mixture in a semi-sphere silicon mold and froze it before placing it in the alginate bath. This worked wonders! The results where perfect spheres which I could handle easily and produced wonderful mouthfeel. 

Although I solved the texture/shape issue, I still had plenty of bubbles in the mixture and it was opaque white. I thought about trying to ice-filter it but then I thought again about the color and decided I actually like it this way, because it adds to the surprise effect of the dish where you can't see what's in it. As for the bubbles, I intend to use a magnetic stirrer the next time instead of a hand blender to try and introduce as little bubbles as possible during mixing. In either case, the bubbles weren't a problem when I froze the spheres so it's more of a visual preference. 

Cheers,

Tom.

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Hi Tom. 

Well done. I'm now encouraged to have another go myself. I did manage it when the MC books hit the market, which I still cook from and enjoy. I shall continue to watch your post with interest and welcome to the boards of culinary information. Almost all you need is here. D

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@TomRahav: Amazon.com carries several brands of calcium gluconate and ships to Hong Kong. I order there semi-frequently ...

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14 hours ago, Duvel said:

@TomRahav: Amazon.com carries several brands of calcium gluconate and ships to Hong Kong. I order there semi-frequently ...

Thanks Duvel, I will check this out.

Will there be a difference in the results, in your opinion, if I use calcium gluconate instead of calcium lactate gluconate?

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