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Aug 27, 2011 09:39 AM

Molecular Gastronomy Pearls + Alcohol

I was talking with friends who are thinking about doing an upscale version of a "shot party" from college. Everybody brings a bottle of hard alcohol and different shots/drinks are made.

We thought that a 'grown-up' version of jello shots could be sodium alginate/calcium chloride pearls! Googling only showed cointreu caviar.

So before I order the supplies - are there any chemistry minded hounds who know if the alcohol will interfere with this process? Has anybody tried this and have anything to report?

Thanks for any help!

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  1. If its your first time venturing into this process I would not advise using alcohol as its very tricky and will require a good bit of trial and error.

    If you are going to try, Ive had tried both reverse spherification than traditional spherification when using alcohol, and the traditopnal route works better.

    more here

      1. You will have a very hard time spherifying hard alcohol straight up using the traditional sodium alginate/calcium cloride method because alginate is a polar molecule and will dissolve in other polar substances like water, but not in nonpolar substances like alcohol. You can overcome this by diluting your alcohol with some water or juice or fruit purée or using a cordial with lower alcohol content. Willpowder might also have some other chemicals that you can add to the alcohol to faciliate gellation. Some people find it helpful to thicken the mixture slightly with xanthan gum because alc has a lower surface tension. Also, if you are doing this for a party, you should make the spheres as last minute as possible because the reaction will continue until the spheriphication is a gel all the way through. I've never tried the reverse spherification with alcohol, but I imagine it may be hard to dissolve the calcium gluconolactate in the alcohol as well.

        1. Calling Dr. Moe, Dr. Larry, Dr. Curly................

          1. Thanks for all the replies. I think it might be best to make spheres with mixers and immersing them in the alcohol. I'm think orange juice pearls with campari and soda would taste good and look awesome.