These impressive mango spheres are sure to be a hit at your next party! Dress them up on the serving spoons or put on top of your favorite dessert.
There is nothing more multi-sensory than food and drink, stimulating our sense of taste, smell, touch, vision, hearing and on occasion even pain – just think of the pleasant burn of chili or sudden hit of wasabi at the bridge of the nose. Or how about foods that look like one thing, but taste completely different? Just take a look at these mango spheres – they look exactly like runny egg yolks!
They are filled with mango juice guys! How cool is that?
I wanted to share with you this cool technique that I learned so you can have fun in your kitchen as well! And maybe even impress your loved ones with something special. It does require some simple tools and a few chemicals. Nothing crazy, they’re vegetarian and have their roots in nature just like refined sugar and baking soda.
The molecular gastronomy methods performed by top chefs on TV always appeared challenging for someone like me who never tried them before. But when I got the book Molecular Gastronomy at Home as a gift for Christmas and Molecule-R Cuisine R-Evolution kit to go with it, it inspired me to venture down the culinary avenue of molecular gastronomy in my own kitchen.
The book covers multi-sensory perception in eye-catching impressive techniques in various recipes very well. It gives a good understanding of the science behind them, as well as the practical step-by-step guidance I needed to begin. I realized that modern cooking is as straightforward as any other form of cooking once you understand the underlying principles.
Some techniques are more straightforward than others, and each requires different skills. So I began to practice and the first thing I wanted to master was Spherification technique – a process in which flavored liquids, such as juices, are manipulated using a gelling agent to form a thin membrane around the liquid. The thin membrane created is a result of a gelling reaction that takes place between sodium alginate and calcium lactate. This process produces sphere-shaped capsules that burst in the mouth like caviar bubbles.
There are two forms of spherification: basic spherification and reverse spherification. Both methods start by dissolving sodium alginate and calcium lactate in two separate liquids – one flavored and the other, water. Once both chemicals are well dispersed in their respective liquids, they are left for some time to settle to allow any trapped gases to be released to avoid air bubbles in the sphere.
The next step is to take the flavored solution using a syringe – larger spheres are made via measuring spoons – and carefully squeeze drops of it into the water-based solution. The drops will instantaneously form a gel-coating once the two liquids come into contact. They are then left to “cook” in the water-based solution. The drops are then rinsed in plain water to remove excess calcium and they are ready to be served!
I first experimented with reverse spherification, because with this method the spheres can be made in advance and served later. In basic spherification you have to serve the spheres immediately as they continue to gel even after removing them from the solution until they become solid gel balls.
Well, that took me quite a few attempts to get the results I wanted. I had the dessert in mind that I wanted to pair my perfectly shaped mango spheres filled with mango juice. The trick was that sodium alginate solution is viscous and my mango juice was too thin and spheres kept getting “deformed”.
On the fifth attempt ↓
Then, I discovered another method called frozen reverse spherification, which allowed me to fill the silicone mold with mango juice to create the perfectly shaped mango spheres. Success!
Tips for Reverse Spherification:
- Allow some time and plan accordingly. Sodium alginate may take a while to fully disperse in water. Use hand-held immersion blender. Then leave it to rest in order for the trapped air bubbles to escape. This can take up to 24 hours. When ready to make the spheres, allow the solution to come to room temperature before using it to reduce the solution viscosity.
- Use the silicone mold. This will allow for perfectly shaped spheres. Place the mold on the cutting board or plate so you can keep it flat while you place it in the freezer.
- Water. Do not mix sodium alginate with tap water or mineral water, as it tends to be high in chlorine and calcium content which could interfere with quality of spheres. Use bottled distilled water instead.
- Storing. Store the spheres in leftover juice in the fridge until ready to serve.
- 1 L distilled water
- 5 g sodium alginate
- 150 ml mango juice
- 5 g calcium lactate
- 50 ml distilled water
- extra juice to store the spheres if you are not planning to consume them within a few hours
- Silicone Mold
- Immersion blender
- Digital Scale
- Combine 1 L of distilled water with 5 g of sodium alginate in a flat-bottomed container. Using the immersion blender mix to combine until incorporated and no lumps are floating on the surface, about 5-7 minutes.
- Cover with plastic wrap and allow it to rest in the fridge overnight. This step is required, as we want all the air bubbles created during blending to escape before forming the spheres.
- In a small glass combine 5 g of calcium lactate with 50 ml of water and using the spoon mix to combine until fully dissolved. Combine the calcium lactate mixture with mango juice and whisk until fully incorporated. Set aside for 20 minutes.
- Place the silicon mat with semi circled spheres on a plate or small cutting board and fill it with mango juice. Freeze overnight.
- Set aside two small mixing bowls filled with water for rinsing the spheres. Remove the sodium alginate solution from the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature.
- Take the frozen mango sphere and pop it into the solution. Keep it in the solution for 3 minutes rotating carefully using a small slotted spoon so it "cooks" evenly. You can do multiple spheres at the same time, but make sure they don't touch each other while in the solution as they will stick together.
- After 3 minutes carefully remove the spheres using a slotted spoon and place them in the mixing bowl filled with water to rinse the excess sodium alginate. Then put in second water bath to make sure you got rid off all of it.
- Now they are ready to be served! Share this cool gastronomical experience with friends at your earliest party! Present on serving spoons, glasses or put the spheres on top of your favorite dessert!
Alternatively, try storing them in alcohol to use in cocktail later. Leave to "marinate" for an hour and you've got yourself some alcoholic spheres!