How to Make Spherifications: A Guide to Molecular Gastronomy

Molecular gastronomy has revolutionized the culinary world, allowing chefs to create unique and visually stunning dishes. One of the most fascinating techniques in this field is spherification, which involves transforming liquids into small, gel-like spheres that burst with flavor in your mouth. In this article, we will explore the art of spherification, specifically focusing on “como hacer esferificaciones” or how to make spherifications in Spanish. Whether you are a professional chef or an adventurous home cook, this guide will provide you with valuable insights and step-by-step instructions to master this impressive culinary technique.

What is Spherification?

Spherification is a technique developed by the renowned Spanish chef Ferran Adrià in the late 1990s. It involves the transformation of a liquid into small spheres that resemble caviar or pearls. These spheres are created by using a combination of sodium alginate and calcium chloride, which react to form a thin gel membrane around the liquid. When the spheres are consumed, they burst in the mouth, releasing a burst of flavor.

The Basic Principles of Spherification

Before diving into the step-by-step process of making spherifications, it is essential to understand the basic principles behind this technique. Spherification relies on two key ingredients: sodium alginate and calcium chloride.

Sodium Alginate

Sodium alginate is a natural polysaccharide extracted from brown seaweed. It is commonly used as a thickening and gelling agent in the food industry. When sodium alginate comes into contact with a calcium-rich solution, it forms a gel-like membrane around the liquid, creating the characteristic spheres of spherification.

Calcium Chloride

Calcium chloride is a salt that is often used as a firming agent in food preparation. When combined with sodium alginate, it triggers a chemical reaction that forms the gel membrane around the liquid. Calcium chloride is typically used in the spherification process as a bath or solution to immerse the sodium alginate-coated liquid droplets.

The Step-by-Step Process of Spherification

Now that we have a basic understanding of the principles behind spherification, let’s dive into the step-by-step process of making spherifications:

Step 1: Prepare the Sodium Alginate Bath

The first step in making spherifications is to prepare the sodium alginate bath. To do this, mix 1 liter of water with 5 grams of sodium alginate in a blender. Blend the mixture until the sodium alginate is fully dissolved. Let the mixture rest for at least 2 hours to remove any air bubbles.

Step 2: Prepare the Liquid Filling

While the sodium alginate bath is resting, prepare the liquid filling for your spherifications. This can be any liquid of your choice, such as fruit juice, flavored syrups, or even alcoholic beverages. Be creative and experiment with different flavors to create unique spherifications.

Step 3: Create the Spheres

Once the sodium alginate bath is ready and the liquid filling is prepared, it’s time to create the spheres. Using a syringe or a dropper, carefully drop small droplets of the liquid filling into the sodium alginate bath. The droplets will form into spheres as they react with the sodium alginate. Let the spheres sit in the bath for 2-3 minutes to ensure they are fully coated with the gel membrane.

Step 4: Rinse the Spheres

After the spheres have been sitting in the sodium alginate bath for a few minutes, carefully remove them using a slotted spoon or a sieve. Rinse the spheres gently with clean water to remove any excess sodium alginate solution. This step is crucial to prevent the spheres from sticking together.

Step 5: Prepare the Calcium Chloride Bath

Now it’s time to prepare the calcium chloride bath. Mix 1 liter of water with 5 grams of calcium chloride in a separate container. Stir the mixture until the calcium chloride is fully dissolved.

Step 6: Transfer the Spheres to the Calcium Chloride Bath

Using the slotted spoon or sieve, transfer the rinsed spheres from the sodium alginate bath to the calcium chloride bath. Let the spheres sit in the calcium chloride bath for 1-2 minutes to allow the gel membrane to fully set.

Step 7: Rinse and Serve

After the spheres have been in the calcium chloride bath for a few minutes, remove them using the slotted spoon or sieve. Rinse the spheres gently with clean water to remove any excess calcium chloride solution. Your spherifications are now ready to be served!

Common Challenges and Troubleshooting

While spherification is an exciting technique, it can be challenging, especially for beginners. Here are some common challenges you may encounter and tips to troubleshoot them:

Spheres Breaking or Dissolving

If your spheres are breaking or dissolving too quickly, it may be due to the following reasons:

  • Too much sodium alginate in the bath: Reduce the amount of sodium alginate to create a thinner gel membrane.
  • Insufficient time in the calcium chloride bath: Increase the time the spheres spend in the calcium chloride bath to allow the gel membrane to set properly.
  • High acidity of the liquid filling: Acidic liquids can weaken the gel membrane. Try using less acidic liquids or adjust the pH of the liquid filling.

Spheres Sticking Together

If your spheres are sticking together, try the following solutions:

  • Ensure proper rinsing: Thoroughly rinse the spheres after removing them from the sodium alginate bath to remove any excess sodium alginate solution.
  • Use an anti-sticking agent: Coat the spheres with a small amount of vegetable oil or a non-stick cooking spray to prevent them from sticking together.
  • Separate the spheres: If the spheres are already stuck together, gently separate them using a toothpick or a fine sieve.


1. Can I use other gelling agents instead of sodium alginate?

Yes, there are other gelling agents that can be used for spherification, such as agar-agar or gelatin. However, each gelling agent has its own unique properties and may require different techniques and ratios. Sodium alginate is the most commonly used gelling agent for spherification due to its ease of use and availability.

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