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Which Calcium Salt should I use for spherification?

Calcium Chloride, Calcium Gluconate, and Calcium Lactate Gluconate can all be used in the spherification process. The essential step in the process is when sodium alginate reacts with calcium ions, and so this can be achieved with any of three salts listed above.

 

However, there are slight differences that may make one a better choice than the other depending on your needs.

 

Calcium chloride has a strong, salty taste. For this reason, it is typically only used in the Direct Spherification technique and not Reverse Spherification. In the Direct Spherification process, sodium alginate is added to the liquid you want to gel, and then dropped into a calcium bath in order to cause the reaction needed to form the gel. After it is placed into the calcium bath, it is then dipped into a rinsing bowl. This means that the salty taste of calcium chloride gets rinsed off of the gel membranes. Calcium chloride is the most potent (requires the smallest dosage) of the salts, which is one of its appeals for using it in this process.

 

Calcium lactate gluconate is often the preferred calcium salt to be used for spherification because it has a neutral taste and thus can be used for both reverse and direct spherification. Calcium lactate can also be used with similar results to calcium lactate gluconate, and requires only half of the dose.

 

Calcium content in each salt:

 

Calcium chloride  ~36%

Calcium lactate  ~18%

Calcium lactate gluconate  ~ 9%

 

This means you need to use four times more Calcium lactate gluconate to achieve the same results as a serving of Calcium chloride.