Friday, April 16, 2010

the secret recipe...

 In the world of cooking there is the sub-field of molecular gastronomy and as this sounds like any other cooking field, this one is fairly new.  Especially when it comes to making fruit caviar or turning things into powders or foams, this form of cooking seems to be very new, about 5 years new. It is so new, that while there are a few sites out there and a few blogs, there isn't that many recipes that deal with everything.  For example, the way to cook chicken has been around long enough that there are probably over a million different recipes involving chicken. However, imagine wanting to make strawberry caviar and not finding a single recipe.  What do you do? Experiment.
 I started by taking out the juicer from our basement and after cleaning it, I juiced some strawberries.  I added about 2.5 grams of sodium alginate to the 250 grams of strawberry juice and made chunky strawberry juice.  It almost looked like a puree' which means the alginate didn't dissolve properly.  I mixed the calcium chloride into the water and then got my things ready.  When I first did caviar, there was still a salty taste on the beads even though I thought I washed them off. Now, after they are 'cooked' I place them in a giant bowl of water, so the salty residue on them becomes diluted in the water and they only have their juice taste.
 When I placed my syringe into the juice mix, it was chunky going in, but when I squeezed it out, 2 feet over the bowl, they did form perfect drops or spheres as they fell and splashed a bit.  Out of 250 grams of juice, I messed up once but still had enough to fill a 4 ounce jar with strawberry caviar. 
 The issue was two fold:  First, I read online that the caviar could be heated, and not break the bonds. That much is true and I found this out by adding a bit of water into a 4 ounce jar, adding the caviar, sealing them in and then processing the jar like I do all of my other jars.  After 10 minutes in boiling water, the jar came out and was all ready and the little pearls were still jiggling around in the water, so it worked! The other issue had to deal with taste.  Since there wasn't a clear and easy recipe on strawberry caviar online, I had to improvise and the frozen strawberries that I used, after the caviar was done, didn't have a very 'strawberry' taste.  It tasted like watered down strawberries, which isn't something I enjoy that much.  It is a lesson though that I do need to either get better strawberries and get a better juice mixture or, as my wife suggested, storing them in something.  My wife was shooting ideas out like storing them in jars with some sweetened water or perhaps something tasty like wine.  Those ideas didn't go unheard and now that I have the chemicals and the fun when doing things like this, more flavorful strawberry caviar in red dessert wine, may be something you can buy soon, from me.  

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