Thanksgiving Science: Faux Cranberries (oil spherification)

 - by KitchenPantryScientist

Spice up your holidays with delicious Faux Cranberries, using oil spherification. Because they are made using agar,which has a higher melting temperature than gelatin, faux cranberries can be suspended in melted yellow Jell-O without losing their shape. It doesn’t work to make them using real cranberry juice, because it is too acidic. 

Different recipes, same science! (Oil spherification from “STEAM Lab for Kids”-Quarry Books 2018)

To make Faux Cranberries, you’ll need:

1 package red Jell-O

 2 Tbsp. agar flakes

squeeze bottle or large syringe

Tall container filled with very cold vegetable or canola oil. 

*Adult supervision required for hot liquids.

1. Chill oil in freezer.

2. With adult supervision, make Jell-O, following the directions on the package, but don’t allow it to harden.

3. To 1 cup of red Jell-O, add 2 Tbs. agar.  Microwave and stir repeatedly until the agar or gelatin is completely dissolved.

2. Allow the Jello to cool slightly and add it to a squeeze bottle.

Drip juice through cold oil.

3. Drip the Jell-O/agar solution into a tall container of cold oil, a few drops at a time so it forms into marble-sized orbs and sinks. Allow the orbs to cool for 30 seconds or so and retrieve them with a slotted spoon or strainer. Rinse with water and repeat, re-chilling the oil as needed until you have as many orbs as you want.

4. Add faux cranberries to another batch of Jell-O before it hardens completely, or layer Jell-O and add the faux cranberries to a center layer.

The Science Behind the Fun:

Oil spherification is known to cooks as a “molecular gastronomy” technique, and takes advantage of the fact that water and oil don’t mix. Water-based droplets falling through chilled oil form into perfect spheres due to surface tension, and gelatin and agar added to the mix are colloids that solidify as they cool.




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