A Detail Guide To Molecular Gastronomy

A Detail Guide To Molecular Gastronomy

Dear readers, I am unable to post new articles frequently due to the hard time I am facing and I apologies for that. In today's article I am going to talk about molecular gastronomy. 

The term molecular gastronomy was invented by Hungarian physics Nicholas Kurti and French chemist Hervé in 1969. It is also known as progressive cuisine which incorporates science and new techniques in preparation, transformation and presentation of food. 

In book written by Herve, he explained the chemistry and physics of what takes place during cooking reactions in the kitchen; augmented with a little bit of cellular biology.

This book is divided into four sections. The first section gives information into some of the basic cooking techniques and tries to debunk some common food preparation myths. It takes a very Focused view on cooking with chapters on some things of which the average person has probably never heard.

The more important sections include the science behind various simple cooking techniques like making stocks, using vinegars and wine for marinating, roasting meats, and the use of salt in enhancing flavor. Some other sections include the correct methods for cooling down a cup of coffee and the debunking of the myth that putting a teaspoon in an open champagne bottle will keep it from losing its bubbles.

The second section deals with the science behind our ability to taste. It covers recent studies on the taste sensors in the mouth and aroma sensors in the nose that actually create the flavors that we sense. One of the most interesting sections deals with how using salt can actually trick the palate, creating sweet sensations when none exist. There is also a section which includes some new science about how temperature actually plays a role in flavor sensations.

The third and longest section of the book deals with the actual scientific studies underlying many of the basic concepts. It is at times very enlightening and equally maddening. Many questions are posed and many questions are left unanswered. For example the questions about the right way to cook pasta are posed, including the question about needing to salt the water or not. The salting question is never answered, which leaves the reader wondering why it was asked in the first place.

The fourth section of the book supposedly has to do with using modern techniques for applying what we have learned in the earlier chapters. The application of scientific techniques to cooking is interesting.

There is a lot about the science of cooking in this book. It is also fair to say that there is little in the book that will lead one to begin using many non-traditional cooking techniques. It is also interesting to know that theoretically it is possible to make several liters of mayonnaise from one egg yolk. Just because it is possible does not mean it will lead to a better mayonnaise. As a primer on the basic science of cooking and taste this is a good book to read. So, I suggest you to read it.

In modern days, A few chefs started playing with food. They are experimenting with ingredients to see how different cooking methods changed the appearance of them.

cooking comes from the heart. That is how it has been for thousands of years. And now there is the science of molecular cooking- which is simply the science combined with the heart.

For me there are two different kinds of chef in the world. The other chefs of the world do not excel in presentation or the usage of molecules. They serve their food à la française or family-style. No special decorations except for a plush of curled parsley, a few sprigs of rosemary or chives. Those dishes burst from local grown fresh ingredients. 

Presentation is one of the main point what makes using molecular methods special, which other Chefs love to Play with, to stimulate the senses of our body- nose, eyes, ears, touch, taste

Nose - the sense of smell is a tool to attract an individual's attention. Smells are usually associated with upbringing, emotion, learning and even culture. 

Eyes - The sense of sight is the most focused on sense by marketers. Different colors effect the senses different: red and orange reflect to warmth, blue and green have a cooling effect on the senses. The sense of sight is also stimulated by different shapes.

Ears - The sense of hearing is a powerful sense. The ears are capable of picking up all sorts of information and can contribute to people's feelings.

Touch - The sense of touch encourage people to interact with the product.

Taste - The sense of taste is the sensation produced when a substance in the mouth reacts chemically with taste receptor cells located on taste buds in the mouth, mostly on the tongue. The sensation of taste includes five established basic tastes: sweetness, sourness, saltiness, bitterness, and umami.

However, the goal of all chefs are the same- ultimately to create dishes that tickle, sparkle, explode, amuse, surprise the diner. 

Just Imagine a dish looking like a main course but being in orb shape dessert topped with orange foam that dissolves on your tongue and leaves behind a velvet texture flavoured with caviar on top of your brownie, which turns out to be a mouth melting - chocolate mousse with small balls that look like caviar but are made of raspberry puree or juice. Yes, it is possible due to molecular gastronomy!

This cuisine method introduces new tools, ingredients and methods into the kitchen for instance, 

  • Carbon dioxide source, for adding bubbles and making foams
  • Foams can also be made with an immersion blender
  • Liquid nitrogen, for flash freezing and shattering
  • Sous-vide (low temperature cooking)
  • Maltodextrin - can turn a high-fat liquid into a powder
  • Lecithin - an emulsifier and non-stick agent
  • Hydrocolloids such as starch, gelatin, pectin and natural gums - used as thickening agents, gelling agents, emulsifying agents and stabilizers, sometimes needed for foams
  • Spherification - a caviar-like effect
  • Syringe, for injecting unexpected fillings
  • Edible paper made from soybeans and potato starch, for use with edible fruit inks and an inkjet printer
  • Presentation style may include unusual service ware.
  • Unusual flavor combinations (food pairings) are favoured, such as combining savory and sweet.

Where does ingredients for gelification, spherification come from? 

1. Agar-agar

In molecular gastronomy, gelification, is done by a gelling substance, the Agar-Agar. This additive comes from the cell walls of red algae. You can see it a lot in Asian culinary tradition. The name Agar-Agar means jelly. An old Japanese story tells that this gelling substance was discovering in the mid 70s.

Modern cooks used the Agar-agar for its gelling capabilities. To be able to get the gel formation, you have to bring to a boil a liquid and then cooled the additive in it. The liquid temperature has to be at between 32°C and 43°C. This additive doesn't smell or taste anything. It adds texture and increases the other aromas. The texture depends of the proportion of the additive: More you put agar-agar, more firms it will be.

Cooks who do molecular gastronomy, can used this additive to do spaghetti, prisms, lentils or pearls.

And talking about its Applications, The biggest strength of this additive is his capability of stabilizers and thickeners. Because of that, it can be used in icing, meringues and pie fillings. It can also be use to improve yogurt texture or in fruit confectionery preparation.

Similarly, This additive is perfect for people who look at what they eat. It is calorie-free and have more than 80% fibers. Also, in jam's confection, the agar-agar gives more taste of fruit and that way, you don't need to put that much sugar in the recipe.

2. Calcium salts:

Where does it come from?

This additive is use in molecular gastronomy to do the spherification and the reverse spherification. It is a mineral salt and with the sodium alginate, it forms a gel.

What is it working for?

In food industry, calcium lactate is used to improve the taste and texture. It can be used to correct the ph for acid food. It is used to make beer and breads or as a firming agent to keep cut fruit and vegetable beautiful. In molecular gastronomy, it is used with sodium alginate to do the spherification and the reverse-spherification. With those techniques, cooks are able to do ravioles and pearls (caviar).


Calcium salts is used with sodium alginate to form a gel. Calcium gluconate, calcium chloride and calcium lactate are the main calcium salts used by chefs in creative and modern cooking.

How to do it?

To do Spherification, it is preferable to take calcium lactate than calcium chloride. The spherification would work but the calcium lactate doesn't taste anything compare to calcium chloride who leaves a taste even after rinsing.

In creative cooking, calcium is used a lot. Here is some idea where you can use this additive:

- custard ravioles

- spherical tzatziki

- mango ravioles

- mint caviar

So, for molecular gastronomy some basic science knowledge is very vital. It is also known as progressive cuisine which incorporates science and new techniques in preparation, transformation and presentation of food. Molecular gastronomy involves different Techniques, tools and Ingredients. Some more techniques used in simple terms are:

1. Spherification

2. Flash freezing

3. Use of emulsifiers

4. Aromatic components

5. Unusual flavour combination

6. High pressure cooking

7. Improve Temperature control

8. Cooking in Microwave to create dishes that are cold in outside and with hot liquid inside at centre.

Tools :

1. Liquid Nitrogen for flash freezing

2. Centrifuge

3. Food dehydrator

4. Well control water bath for low temperature cooking 

The unique dishes never imagined are created using new techniques and science and different chemicals and physical reaction occurs during cooking are studied and experimented. It blends physics and chemistry to transform the taste and texture of food.

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