Molecular Gastronomy Kit
- sarahjay Dec 10, 2008 08:38 AM
I have a 12 year old on my gift list who is into food and cooking and science and thought he might enjoy experimenting with molecular gastronomy, making fruit "caviar" and liquid nitrogen ice cream. Does anyone know of a kit or what might go into a kit for a smart 7th grader to get started in molecular gastronomy?
To make the fruit caviar you will need the following. 1teaspoon of sodium alginate to one cup of strong base liquid (ie. orange juice, etc.) and 1 teaspoon calcium chloride to 2 cups water. Mix the base with S.A. in a blender, and whisk together C.Ch. with clean water until it dissolves completely. Using an eye dropper or syringe drop droplets of base into C.C. bath. After 1 minute strain out "caviar" into a clean water bath. Once rinsed off it will stop the cooking of the orange juice. The effect will be just like caviar, they will pop when you bite them. Happy holiday's, Chef Brian. Ingredients can be found at places like www.willpowder.net
You have to be careful with these recipes as the PH, the amount of calcium in either of the liquids, and any alcohol present will change things drastically.
Also, the Alinea Cookbook recommends calcium lactate as it has a less pronounced flavor than calcium chloride.
I've also had lots of success with gelatin and cold oil. It's much easier to do in most kitchens where you don't have a scale accurate to the fraction of a gram.
And where do you expect to find liquid nitrogen? And if you can find it, how are you going to transport it? Be prepared to spend several hundred dollars in supplies and more on education courses if you want to want your 12 year old to get into the liquid nitrogen biz. After all something that is kept at negative (as in cold!) -321 degrees Fahrenheit is inherently extremely dangerous to a 12 year old. I would be willing to bet that a new handgun is cheaper, far easier to purchase, and is easier to learn the safety aspects of the item.
In other words, better stick to things that can be found at places like http://www.willpowder.net/ as Chef Brian mentioned.
I am exaggerating a bit about the gun, but come on, are you really going to be able to buy liquid nitrogen for home use?
I found a 4 liter Dewar for transporting the liquid nitrogen. It's on sale for the low low price of $480.00! Act now!
Death by asphyxiation, explosions, burns, freezing fingers or hands... You're right, it's not too dangerous.
Look, I understand that following simple safety precautions can eliminate most of if not all of the danger, but this liquid nitrogen stuff isn't for fun and at home use unless you really know what you are doing.
I'd hold off on liquid nitrogen. The liquid nitrogen itself is cheap, the approved containers are not. You are looking at a huge deposit to rent the container, or a huge out lay to buy one. But there is an alternative. You can use dry ice. If you have access to Heston Blumental's In Search of Perfection, there is a recipe there.
www.willpowder.net is a good resource to buy most of the chemicals you will need.
Also, there is a collection of recipes available in PDF for free that will get him started. It's available here:
Perhaps printing, laminating, and binding would be a good thing to go along with it.
If you want to do funky stuff with cold, just suck up the cost, buy an Anti-Griddle and learn how to use it.
Liquid nitrogen is interesting and I've played around with it but handling it safely in a home environment is very tricky. Even if you did buy a tiny dewar the most common source of LN2 is a hospital or a lab, and you don't want either because they fill things like cryotanks for tissue storage and they don't exactly keep the hosing all that clean (yes, stuff is probably dead, but you still don't need dirt and particulate matter in your food).
Dry ice? Somewhat easier to obtain and handle but still has minor considerations such as explosions and basic asphyxiation with sublimation. Cheap crockery tends to crack/explode too.
With no disrespect to Chef Brian, it seems to me that 1 tsp of sodium alginate to one cup of liquid is way too much. It will work but it seems to me that it would solidify quite rapidly in that concentration.
The whole "molecular gastronomy" thing is cool but I think it's best to start off with some foundation of understanding before allowing a 12 yo to attempt these things. Maybe start off with a gift of the "A Day At El Bulli" book with Ferran Adria. It's loaded with great photos of a day at El Bulli and features some great recipes to whet the appetite for cuisine on the vanguard.
If you're looking to do encapsulations, there are a number of approaches to what is essentially the same thing. Different chemicals, oils and more. Send your child to reading Ideasinfood.com, maybe even take one of their courses.