Beginner’s Molecular Gastronomy

Hello, my name is Brianna Vasquez and I am a sophomore, majoring in hospitality management at New York City College of Technology. I am in love with all subjects pertaining to food and its innovations that are trending in the culinary world since I aspire to become a pastry chef. But I wanted to share easy gourmet dishes that can be made from the items you most likely already have at home in the fridge or pantry. I am overly obsessed with molecular gastronomy which is a food practice that applies scientific principles to the improvement of food by different techniques and ingredients. It can affect the texture, color, shape, and flavor of the food item. Molecular gastronomy has gotten so popular that it now provides kits for professional chefs and home cooks to use which can be expensive ranging from $30-$350 depending on what is offered in each kit. It is an expensive practice due to the gourmet ingredients used like xanthan gum that is not readily available in local supermarkets. Nevertheless, I wanted to share an inexpensive recipe for molecular gastronomy spherification which is commonly used as a garnish that can allow you to feel like a Michelin star chef in quality without spending a lot of cash.

Here’s the Recipe for Gelatin “Caviar”:

But first is some basic information when making gelatin caviar is

1.  Choose strong flavors such a strong brewed coffee or balsamic vinegar that can be easily tasted due to their potent flavors.

2. Choose an oil whether vegetable (which is what I recommend since it is more versatile and readily available) or grape seed. Don’t use olive oil or coconut oil and other oils that can easily solidify. Since the oil must be cold in order form the caviar to solidify into its pearl-like shape. The oil can either be put in the freezer for an hour but preferably overnight to chill or be placed in an ice bath.

3. Choose what tool to drop with whether a plastic squeeze bottle (which is what I used), a culinary syringe, or an eye dropper in order to drop the liquid into the oil.

edible pink and blue pearls

Image by ckubber via Flickr








Gelatin “Caviar”

Yield: about 3/4 cup caviar
Special equipment:
Plastic squeeze bottle, unused medicine dropper (pipet) or culinary syringe
Mesh sieve
2-3 cups vegetable oil
2 – 1/4 oz. packages powdered gelatin (or 4 teaspoons) {** if making, a vegan version, replace the powdered gelatin for powdered agar agar for the same measure}
3 tablespoons cold water
3 fluid oz. hot liquid (1/4 cup plus 3 tbsp) i.e. hot coffee, or other liquid heated on the stove-top or in microwave
1/4 cup salt for water bath

1.Place oil in a 9×13-inch metal pan (or similar size) and store in refrigerator overnight. The oil must be very cold for the gelatin to set properly.

2.In a medium bowl mix the gelatin and water until thoroughly combined and no lumps of gelatin remain. Let stand while you prepare the hot liquid.

3.Warm 3 oz. liquid on the stove-top or in a microwave until very hot but not boiling. Pour liquid over set gelatin mixture and stir until gelatin is melted.  This may take a few minutes and you can break up the gelatin with a spoon for quicker dissolve.

4.When gelatin is completely melted transfer liquid to a squeeze bottle. You can also leave the mixture in the bowl and use a medicine dropper or syringe to draw the liquid for dropping.

5.Let the mixture stand for a few minutes, if it’s too hot the gelatin will not set properly and the “caviar” will be misshapen. It should be just barely warm – almost room temperature.

6.While you wait for your mixture to cool, prepare the oil for the ice bath. Transfer chilled oil to a 1 quart container (preferably metal because it will aid cooling, but glass will work too).  Prepare the ice bath. Make sure the bowl you are using for the ice bath is larger than the container holding the oil.  Fill bowl with ice and then add water until the bowl is two-thirds filled. Add 1/4 cup salt and stir until mixed.  Rest the container of oil inside the water bath.

coffee liquid dripping from syringe

Image by Two Helmets Cooking via Flickr

7. Begin dropping gelatin mixture into the cold oil, 1-3 drips at a time. The amount of drips will vary according to the viscosity of the oil and type of dropper you use.  As you can see in the video it took three drops for one caviar pearl to form. You’ll know the correct amount when the mixture forms a ball that rests on the surface for a moment then sinks to the bottom.

8.When half the  mixture has been used, wait for 3-5 minutes then scoop the caviar into a mesh sieve to drain. Place caviar in an air-tight container or a canning jar with a screw-tight lid. Resume dropping the gelatin mixture into the cold oil until all of the mixture is used.

9.Personal note: I was too slow, so a little of my mixture solidified before I could pipe it all. Try to be quick but don’t stress. I still had plenty of caviar at the end.

10.When finished, place caviar in a canning jar or in an air-tight container with a little of the oil poured over top. This may sound weird or gross, but it keeps the caviar moist for up to a week.  Plus, if you don’t like the idea of oil being on the caviar you can rinse it in a sieve under cold water before placing on the dessert.

11.When stored with a little oil poured over and placed in an air-tight container the caviar will keep for up to 10 days.


10 thoughts on “Beginner’s Molecular Gastronomy

    • Yeah , it is very similar but popping boba is filled with a juice while these are a little firmer and less juicy but can still be used to top frozen yogurt.
      You can clean off the oil a few times with cold water and then dry on a paper towel.

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