I recently went to a Molecular Gastronomy demonstration at my favorite restaurant supply store, Surfas. The recipes presented can be viewed on this link to Surfas. Sperification was the process that most intrigued me. Simply adding sodium alginate to a liquid such as pureed mango along with other liquid to arrive at the consistency and taste you want, filter out solids and then dripping into a bowl of calcium chloride results in the sodium alginate and calcium reaction to form a film around the liquid and thus a sphere. The sphere is filled with still liquid flavor you prepared. The reverse process is used for foods rich in calcium where you actually drizzle these in a sodium alginate bath. I am oversimplifying the process.
Spheres can be made in varying sizes (caviar looking to olive size or larger).
My interest in this was stimulated by a recent FoodTV demonstration by El Bulli chef, Ferran Adrian. The Youtube video is attached. The process used in this video is what was described as a reverse process by the chef providing the demonstration at Surfas. The process involves using very good olives, puree and filter them, the step missing from the video is what Ferran adds to the already calcium rich olives before forming the spheres. This is described in his book, A Day At El Bulli. It does include adding calcium to the olive puree with a thickener and then dipping the olive mixture in an alginate bath.
An Olive Made From an Olive
Other recipes using moleculary gastonomy can be viewed at this Surfas link. Select those added 3/2/09 for specific recipes addressed at the 2-28-09 Surfas demonstration.