Spherification is a trick discovered by the El Bulli restaurant a few years back. It involves taking a liquid (drink, puree, whatever, really) and using two chemicals to create a thin shell around the liquid. This shell/sphere can be heated, picked up, covered in chocolate - whatever takes your fancy! My plan was to try and recreate the Junebug cocktail from Lantern, presenting it in a spherical form rather than the old-hat idea of pouring it into a glass. Pshaw. I call it the Doodlebug. I'm sorry. I actually went wrong from the start. Although Lantern say they use a 'ginger and lemon soda', I have a feeling that lemonade is probably the better substitute than my choice of ginger ale. Anyway, I added xanthum gum to the cocktail to thicken it up a little, and a tiny amount of calcium gluconate for the chemical reaction which would make the shell. After that, I poured the mixture into half a jelly egg mold to make the sphere shape. These were then put into the freezer to solidify.
The other part of the spherification process is a solution of sodium alginate and water. I did this on Friday night, simply mixing the chemical into the water (which took a lot longer than expected) and leaving it for twelve hours as recommended by El Bulli.
Once you've got all that, all that's left to do is to make the spheres! Simply push them out of the mold and drop one into the solution like this:
Then after about two minutes or so, take it out and put it into the water bath. This will prevent the spheres from sticking to each other.
And that's it! One sphere!
Of course, there's always a hitch. In my case, I'm not sure what exactly went wrong; I think perhaps the freezing may not have been the best idea, because every single sphere sprang a leak as it was defrosting. Which was rather disappointing.
Not wishing to give up just yet, I made a small mixture of orange juice, a shot of vodka, and some xanthum gum. This time, I used a squeezy bottle to shoot the thickened juice into the sodium alginate solution. This worked a lot better:
By this time, the alginate solution was pretty much spent, so I had to call a halt to proceedings (I also had to make real food after all!) So although I didn't so well with the Doodlebugs, I think I've made some progress for the ultimate aim: an edible snow globe!