Spherification is a cooking technique that was invented by El Bulli chef Ferran Adria and his team to help create spheres from liquid juices. As we know, there are various methods of spherification with the most common versions being the basic and reverse spherification techniques.
By definition, basic spherification also called direct spherification is the making of flavorfulspheres from liquid juices by adding the gelling ingredient directly into the juice and then pour the mixture into a calcium bath to “cook’ the spheres. Reverse spherification of the other hand involves setting liquids containing calcium for example yogurt by adding calcium salts into the liquid and them pouring the mixture into an Algin bath to form spheres.
The two methods of spherification are the most applied in molecular gastronomy, but the latter is usually the most preferredespecially when creating spheres using thick liquids. But why is it the most preferred? First of all, molecular chefs claim that reverse spherification tends to give better results when you need to create large spheres and also because unlike basic spherification, only the outer surface is gelified leaving a flavorful liquid center.
Here are 5 things that differentiate the two methods of spherification
- Their use of calcium salts
Basic spherification uses calcium chloride while the reverse method uses calcium lactate or calcium lactate gluconate. You need to know that calcium chloride has a somewhatbittertaste that can affect the flavor of the resulting spheres. This is why it is often used in basic spherification as it is addedto the bath and the little amount that touches the spheres is rinsed off before serving.
The calcium lactate salts, on the other hand, are flavorless and are very soluble that’s why they are preferred for reverse spherification because they are added in the flavorfulliquid.
- Longevity of spheres
Spheres created using the reverse method tend to last longer than the basicspheres. This mainly because only their outer surfaceis gelled. For restaurants or in thecase of many guests, this is very advantageous as you can prepare them early enough before guests arrive and even marinate them in another liquid for some timeto enhance the flavor on the outsides of the spheres.
- Basic spherification is not ideal for acidic spheres
Basic spherification does not work well with acidic ingredients unless you dilute the acid content using agents such as sodium citrate which can ruin the flavor of the main ingredient if added directly to it. Therefore, if you want to create acidic spheres, reverse spherification is a better option as it can withstand fruit juices with a high PH.
- Basicspheres take lesser time preparing
Unlike reverse spherificationwhere the setting is bath prepared beforehand and refrigerated to remove air bubbles, in basic spherification the calcium salts used dissolve very quickly and do not leaveair bubbles that need to be eliminated. You can, therefore, use the bath immediately to create spheres whichmean you will take less preparation time compared to when making reverse spheres
- Basicspheres are more enjoyable and flavorful
Why? Because the gel inwards which means that the gel membrane on the outer surface won’t be flavorless like in reverse spherification. Plus, basicspheres usually form a very thinlayer that easily explodes in the mouth and together with their rich flavor, they provide a savory eating experience.