Why Calcium Lactate Gluconate is preferred for Spherification?


What is Spherification?

Spherification is a culinary technique used to create pearls or spheres of liquid that resemble roe, both in texture and appearance. This is achieved by mixing calcium lactate gluconate or calcium chloride with sodium alginate. The modernist cuisine movement, led by chefs Albert Adria and Ferran Adria at El Bulli, popularized this technique. Spherification was first documented in the 1950s by Unilever. The final result can vary based on the calcium content of the liquid being used and the method employed for spherification.

Basic spherification

In the case of flavored liquids which contain no calcium such as fruit juices, the liquid is thoroughly mixed with a small amount of powdered sodium alginate and then dripped into a bowl filled with soluble calcium salt or a cold solution of calcium chloride. Each drop of alginated liquid tends to fall in shape into small spherical shapes in the calcium solution, which is quite similar to a teaspoon full of water being dropped into a bowl of vegetable oil which forms a little bubble of water in the oil. A thin and flexible skin is formed on the outer layer of each alginated liquid sphere in the calcium solution during the reaction time which often ranges from a few seconds to a few minutes. Saved for later use in beverages or foods, these artificial “caviar” balls or “popping boba” are rinsed in water.

Reverse spherification

The process of reverse spherification involves dripping a liquid containing calcium lactate gluconate or calcium lactate into a bath of sodium alginate or distilled water, depending on whether the liquid contains high levels of alcohol, acid, or calcium (e.g. milk). Another form of spherification, known as frozen reverse spherification, involves using pre-frozen spheres of calcium lactate gluconate which are then submerged in a sodium alginate bath.

Both reverse spherification and frozen reverse spherification result in spheres or pearls of liquid surrounded by a thin membrane of gel, similar in texture to roe. While basic spherification requires immediate use, as the membrane will gradually thicken and turn the sphere into jelly, reverse spherification methods can provide longer storage capabilities, resulting in a harder and thicker outer shell for the spheres. This makes reverse spherification the more popular method for spherification due to its longer shelf life and stabilized results.

What is Calcium Lactate Gluconate?

Calcium lactate gluconate, also known as GLOCAL, is a soluble salt of calcium, gluconic acid, and lactic acid used in effervescent calcium tablets. It is a vital component for maintaining strong bones and proper functioning of the nerves, heart, and muscles. If an individual’s diet falls short of calcium, calcium lactate gluconate can be used as a supplement. However, the best way to intake and maintain calcium levels in the body is through food.

Calcium lactate gluconate, with the chemical formula Ca5(C3H5O3)6•(C6H11O7)4•2H2O, was first developed by Sandoz in Switzerland. It is known for its neutral taste and good solubility, making it a useful ingredient in the fortified and functional food industry. Calcium lactate gluconate can prevent and treat calcium deficiency, as well as diseases such as osteomalacia, rickets, and others.

Therapeutic uses of calcium lactate gluconate

There are several therapeutic uses and effectiveness of calcium lactate gluconate. Calcium lactate gluconate supplements are observed to improve the health of bones with more effectiveness when compared to calcium carbonate or calcium citrate malate. With regards to bioavailability, calcium lactate gluconate is among the most intensively researched organic salts of calcium besides tricalcium citrate. There have been reviews made based on the superior effect of calcium lactate gluconate on bone mineral density, calcium bioavailability biomarkers including PTH, urinary and serum ionized calcium, and fractional rate of absorption of calcium. Bone fracture rate has also been observed to get reduced at a significant rate when calcium lactate gluconate was administered to non-menopausal women with osteoporosis after or during the hormone therapy. When compared to exercising, calcium lactate gluconate has shown a higher rate of increase in mineral density in the bones of the hip. Thus calcium lactate gluconate has several positive effects and benefits for the health of an individual.

What is the use of Calcium Lactate Gluconate in the process of spherification?

The creation of semi-solid spheres with thin membranes out of liquids which falls under a modern cuisine technique is known as spherification. It helps in the achievement of a burst-in-the-mouth effect with the liquid when the consumer bites through this. This culinary technique is used to enhance both the texture and the flavor of the liquid. Various firmness and sizes can be selected or opted for while making the spheres. The two basic components used for this technique are sodium alginate and calcium lactate gluconate.

The presence of calcium lactate gluconate provides the necessary calcium for setting the bath to the desired specifications. The calcium content causes the surface of the droplets to gel instantly, determining the firmness of the spheres. To achieve the desired burst-in-the-mouth texture, a conduct time of 10 to 15 seconds is sufficient.

Calcium lactate gluconate generally has a high calcium level. Due to this property, calcium lactate gluconate is used for reverse spherification. Calcium results in the formation of harder shells outside the liquid, which provides the facility of the privilege to store these gelated balls for later consumption. The concentration level of calcium is the deciding factor that will determine the speed of gelation. Thus, according to the needs, the calcium content in the calcium lactate gluconate is adjusted.

The resistance to calcium diffusion and the overall strength of the alginate gel are unaffected, but the source of calcium can alter the speed at which the gel forms. Calcium gluconate has the longest plateau time for gel strength, taking 2000 seconds, followed by calcium lactate, taking 500 seconds. The quickest source of calcium for gelation is calcium chloride, requiring only 100 seconds.

Calcium lactate gluconate is chosen over the other alternatives which will serve as the best option for masking the bitter taste and fast throughput as per requirements. In case of requirement of manipulation of the hardness or thickness of the membrane, the calcium content in calcium lactate gluconate can be decreased according to will.


  1. What are the requirements of this process of spherification?

There is quite a rudimentary set of equipment required for specification, unlike many modern techniques, including a blender, precision scales, a container to hold the water solution, and a spoon order series to transfer the liquid. This set of equipment is strictly necessary for the process to be carried out successfully.

  1. What is the use of the spherification process?

The process of spherification is a culinary technique in which a liquid is dropped into a solution or a bath to create a thin jail covering around the liquid droplets. This culinary technique was created by Ferran Adria in the year 2003. This process was aimed at enhancing the taste and texture of the liquid, by creating and producing a burst of liquid flavor in the eater’s mouth.

  1. Is spherification considered to be a chemical reaction?

Occurring between Sodium alginate and Calcium lactate gluconate or calcium chloride, spherification is considered to be a chemical reaction. Sodium alginate is dissolved in juice and calcium chloride is dissolved in water to perform this chemical reaction. Then the calcium solution is used as a base for dripping the juice solution into it to form the crystal balls. The calcium in the base makes the juice form a membrane layer on the outside with liquid in the center. This is then used in different food items to boost the taste and texture of the juice.

  1. What type of reaction is spherification?

Spherification is a type of chemical reaction known as gelification. It involves the formation of a gel-like membrane around a liquid droplet, such as water, through the reaction of two common chemicals. This technique was first discovered and developed by chef Ferran Adria at the elBulli restaurant in Spain. In spherification, the gelifying agents (typically sodium alginate and calcium ions) interact to form a stable, gel-like membrane that encases the liquid droplet, creating a unique culinary experience.

  1. Is spherification considered to be a physical or a chemical reaction?

Spherification is based on a specific chemical reaction that takes place between calcium chloride or calcium lactate gluconate and sodium alginate. This process is used in culinary arts.

  1. What are the uses of calcium lactate gluconate?

Due to the neutral test and high level of solubility, calcium lactate gluconate is used in the fortified and functional food industry. In molecular gastronomy calcium lactate gluconate is used in various spherification techniques. The poisoning caused by hydrofluoric acid (HF) can be neutralized using calcium lactate gluconate.

  1. What are the common uses of calcium lactate?

Calcium lactate is commonly used as a dietary supplement to help replenish low calcium levels in the body. It is used to treat a variety of conditions caused by calcium deficiency, including hypoparathyroidism (a condition that decreases the activity of the parathyroid gland), rickets and osteomalacia (weak bones), and osteoporosis (bone loss). Additionally, calcium lactate is often used as an ingredient in food products, such as bakery goods, to improve the calcium content of the food.

  1. Is calcium lactate the same as calcium lactate gluconate?

Used in both food and pharmaceutical applications according to the regulations for the individual salts, calcium lactate gluconate is a mixture of calcium lactate and Calcium gluconate.


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