red salmon eggs in clear drinking glass with sliced lemon

Three Fun Ways of using Spherification

There are three different approaches to using this technique; the first is called Basic Spherification, the second is Reverse Spherification, and the third is Frozen Reverse Spherification. The final products are called Caviar and Ravioli, and the only difference between them is their size and texture.

The way to use this technique and the other ones is not just to create a new drink but also to present the well-known drinks differently and challenge the people’s perceptions of what these drinks should look or taste like.

For instance, presenting caviar on the side of a drink for unaware people will look like fish caviar, but you can see the surprise reaction on their faces after they taste it. Something like “Wow,” I didn’t expect that. The brain is telling you this is fish caviar, but senses are experiencing a burst of flavors, and the conflicting information is causing the brain to pause for a second asking what just happened. The caviar is not supposed to taste like that. And this is the sensory experience we are after, and this is the moment our customers will remember and talk about it.

Basic Spherification can be done by using gelatin and almost frozen canola oil or Sodium Alginate and Calcium Chloride; the second way is the most common one.

Sodium Alginate (SA) has a natural origin and purified carbohydrate. It is extracted from brown algae and used as a food stabilizer. The typical concentration is between .5 to 1% for the standard specification. When you dissolve Sodium Alginate, don’t put any alcohol into the mixture. Once it dissolves, then you can add alcohol to the mix. If you want to make spheres from alcohol or dairy-rich ingredients, the reverse specification is the best way.

Calcium Chloride is used in the food industry to make cheese; it’s also used in many other applications and is the caking agent, stabilizer, or thickener. It’s easily soluble in water. Calcium chloride used with Calcium Alginate creates spheres that gel on the outside and remain liquid in the center.

Sodium Citrate might be needed. If the pH level of the liquid you use is low, below 3 -3.5, you need to add Sodium Citrate to bring the pH level between 4 and 7. The low acidity level might prevent the Spherification process and an alkaline solution with a pH level higher than 8.

  • To make the Sodium Alginate mixture; hydrate the SA for few minutes in the liquid, after that use a handheld immersion stick blender to dissolve it. While you are mixing it try not to incorporate too much air, to get rid of the bubbles you can leave it in the fridge for an hour or overnight, and then strain it.
  • Use a catheter syringe with a wider tip opening or a squeegee bottle. This the cheapest to do it, other than that there are other tools on the market to create proper spheres.
  • For Ravioli use a small cooking measuring spoon, dip the spoon with the SA in the CC bath and flip it over, wipe the spoon before making new Ravioli. It takes about 2-3 min for the outside membrane to be formed.
  • Use a slotted spoon to remove the caviar from the Calcium Chloride bath and rinse them into another vessel filled with cold clean water. Strain and store in the fridge. The liquid inside the spheres starts slowly to jellify in about 20-30 min.

The steps of adding the ingredients are Sodium Citrate-dissolve it, Sodium Alginate – the same, and then alcohol.

Reverse Spherification can be used to create Ravioli and caviar if you need them to stay liquid on the inside for a longer time or the next day.

This technique can be done by using Xanthan gum, Sodium Alginate, Calcium Chloride, or Calcium Lactate Gluconate- it has a milder taste than Calcium Lactate and Calcium Chloride.

The reason is called reversed Spherification because the Sodium Alginate bath is the last step of the process instead of the Basic way.

  • Prepare the alginate bath by mixing or blending 2.5g SA in 500ml water, I prefer the distilled one.
  • Put in the fridge until it clears up.
  • Next, in another bowl add Calcium Lactate Gluconate – 2% of the flavored base, and mix to dissolve it.
  • Add Xanthan gum and blend it again until dissolved.
  • Put in the fridge for a few hours for the bubbles to dissipate or if in a hurry strain in it through a fine-mesh strainer. Less incorporated air is an important part to achieve a better round shape.
  • The order is; a bowl with Calcium Lactate Gluconate mix, a second bowl with Alginate bath, and the third one with clean distilled water for rinsing.
  • Use a cooking measuring spoon to scoop the CLG mix from the bowl, dip the bottom of the spoon in the alginate bath and slowly flip the spoon over. Make sure the Raviolis don’t touch each other and also move the spoon around the spheres in the water, without touching them.
  • When they are done, 2-3 min, use a slotted spoon to put them in the clean water bowl.
  • Use a paper napkin to clean the spoons after each step to prevent cross-contamination especially between the alginate bath and the Calcium Lactate Gluconate base.
  • Rinse and use, or store them in flavoring liquid in the fridge. The flavoring agent can be any other flavor or alcohol, in effect infusing them while stored.

Frozen Reverse Spherification

  • The only difference is that you have to put the Calcium Lactate Gluconate mixture in some kind of mold,
  • freeze it, after that dip it into the alginate bath to form the spheres.
  • This method can be used with items, which can freeze, not suitable for high proof alcohol.

Here is how to make Lychee caviar using Basic Spherification. The process is all the same for any other base using this method, except the amount of SA needs to be adjusted accordingly to the volume of the liquid.

Lychee Caviar

how to make caviar and pearls, Molecular Mixology

Lychee caviar made by using Direct Spherification.

Prep Time 20 minutes
Additional Time 1 minute
Total Time 21 minutes


  • 240 ml lychee juice
  • 15 ml grenadine
  • 30 ml Raspberry puree
  • 1.1 gr Sodium Citrate
  • 2 gr or 0.8% Sodium Alginate
  • 5 gr Calcium Chloride
  • 1 L water - I used distilled
  • Top with orange essential oil


    Sodium Alginate Solution

      1. Dissolve Sodium Citrate into the liquid.
      2. Blend the mixture with 2 g of sodium alginate.
      3. Let it rest to get rid of the air bubbles.
      4. You can keep it overnight in the fridge for the bubbles to dissipate or slowly fine-strain it to eliminate as many bubbles as you can.
      5. Another option is to mix the SA with a third of the mixture.
      6. Bring it to a boil, and let it cool down to room temperature. Add the rest and blend again.

    Calcium Chloride Bath

    Mix lychee juice and Sodium Alginate with an immersion blender. After dissolving SA, fine strain and put the mixture in the fridge for a few hours or overnight to eliminate any remaining air bubbles.

    Dissolve 5 g of calcium chloride into 1L of cold water in another vessel.

    To make Caviar use a catheter syringe with a wider tip opening or a squeegee bottle. Drop by drop, squeeze the liquid gently over the bath, from about 11/2″ distance.

    To make Ravioli:

    Use a small cooking measuring spoon, scoop the SA mix and dip the spoon with the SA mix into the CC bath and flip it over. Wipe the spoon before making the new Ravioli. It takes about 2-3 min for the outer gel membrane to form.

    Use a slotted spoon to remove the Ravioli/Caviar from the Calcium Chloride bath and rinse it into another vessel filled with cold, clean water. Strain and store in the fridge. The liquid inside the spheres starts to jellify slowly in about 20-30 minutes.

    Top with orange essential oil.


    pH is 4.50. Hydrate SA for about 5 min after SC is dissolved.

    Nutrition Information:



    Serving Size:


    Amount Per Serving: Calories: 386Total Fat: 15gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 53mgCarbohydrates: 66gFiber: 6gSugar: 54gProtein: 2g

    This data was provided and calculated by Nutritionix.

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