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Mar 17, 2009 10:13 AM

Where to buy sodium alginate and other rare ingredients.

I'm looking for a place in Toronto or online in Canada to buy the following 3 ingredients.

sodium alginate, calcium chloride, Agar (aka Agar-Agar)

I know I can order them from the states, but to make it worth while you have to buy in huge bulk, and pay a ridicules amount in shipping and I'm not willing to spend almost $200 on doing so.

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  1. I don't know about the other two but you can buy agar-agar in Asian grocery stores. My mother uses it to make almond jello. I believe it's a type of seaweed, so it looks kinda like seaweed. It's clear/off-white and the squiggly strands are flattened into loose sheets. You can get it at T&T or most other Asian supermarkets.

    I am also interested in locating some sodium alginate. I haven't had a chance to do any research but I saw a recipe in Jose Andres' latest book for spheres of yogurt with tangerine that I really want to try.

    Maybe if we get enough people together, we can share an order...

    1. I found sodium alginate in a drug store around Yonge/Lawrence a couple of years back. But don't recall the name - cost between $20 and $30 for more than I needed.

      1. Health food stores carry agar. Calcium chloride is just the "expensive" kind of deicing salt, though you can't eat the stuff they sell at hardware stores.

        Many of the "molecular gastronomy" substances are widely available and don't cost very much (vs the huge sums asked by El Bulli and the like). Some things are even available at supermarkets and Bulk Barn (citric acid, lecithin).

        I haven't explored this in great depth, but I'm pretty sure there's someone at George Brown who can lead you to them. If you decide to explore this, kindly post your results.

        2 Replies
        1. re: embee

          I did find a wholesaler today who carries it, it's about $50.00 a kg though - and you do need to buy it by the Kg from this company. Not a very common ingredient for sure.

          1. re: embee

            Upon reflection, I think it was a health food store on Yonge near Lawrence.

          2. Thanks everyone for the feedback. I do plan on checking out Bulk Barn, for some things yes. and T&T next time I'm out that way.

            I did find this website for other interested. Their in B.C.

            Reasonably priced compared to the American sites I found, and you don't get absolutely killed on shipping.

            I'll defiantly post anything interesting from my results.

            10 Replies
            1. re: DurhamPark

              I didn't know about this very interesting site. Thanks. It looks like a convenient and cost effective source of experimental material. Nonetheless, here are some possible local sources of things they list.

              You can get calcium gluconate at almost any health food store, and many drugstores, in the vitamin section. Calcium citrate is very widely available, though I've never seen sodium citrate.

              Maltodextrin, dextrose, fructose, and glucose are widely available where they sell baking and brewing supplies. Bulk Barn is a possibility. Some health food stores sell fructose.

              I've found Callebaut chocolate nibs at Bonnie Stern. They aren't pure cocoa, but they have a very low sugar content. Delicious!

              I've seen xanthan gum at health food stores. They might also stock this at a "low carb" store.

              Every supermarket has pectin powder and some have the liquid form.

              Lecithin granules and liquid are available at virtually all health food stores, some drugstores and supermarkets, and probably at Bulk Barn.

              Gelatin powder is, of course, everywhere. Leaf gelatin, while less widely available, is around.

              1. re: embee

                Thanks for the info. Will have to check out some of those places.

                1. re: DurhamPark

                  Since some of these substances are used as nutritional supplements or as ingredients in tablets and capsules, you might have some luck with a compounding pharmacy. For example, you can get calcium citrate tablets everywhere, but a compounding pharmacy might have the powder.

                  I haven't checked this out myself, but it seems worth a few phone calls. Two I can recommend are Smith's (Yonge & Yonge, next to Loblaw) and Haber's (Bathurst north of St Clair).

                2. re: embee

                  I've been looking for pectin and been unable to find it. I've asked at a few supermarkets and been met with blank stares. Apologies for the list of questions ...

                  1) Which supermarket usually has it
                  2) Is there a brand name
                  3) Where is it usually kept.

                  1. re: Paulustrious

                    It's used to make jellies and is very widely available. One brand is "Certo". It comes in boxes (powdered) and as a liquid. It might be with preserving supplies, with desserts (stuff like Jello), or in produce.

                    1. re: embee

                      Definitely try the baking section or the Jell-O section. I've never had trouble finding it at any regular supermarket. I've also seen it at Wal-mart where they have canning supplies.

                      Whole Foods carries Pomonas which is an all-natural pectin. It's in the baking aisle.


                      1. re: wontonfm

                        Sorry - I had a complete brain seizure. For some unknown reason I saw pectin and thought rennet. I know they are radically different, but senility is obviously kicking in.

                        I had been trying to find rennet in Toronto, and all I've discovered so far are mail order such as

                        1. re: Paulustrious

                          You can find rennet as well - Junket, usually with puddings and Jello. I don't know whether the active concentration would be adequate, though.

                3. re: DurhamPark

                  Great website recommendation! I just ordered some stuff. Can't wait to try making my spheres.

                  1. re: chefhound

                    A friend just sent me this link


                    It doesn't list prices and seems to be geared towards restaurants but I think would sell to individuals too. It looks like they're Canadian...

                4. I found xanthan gum and guar gum in the health food section (gluten free area) of the Loblaws at Victoria Park & Gerrard today.