Molecular Gastonomy: What It Is And What You Can Do With It

Molecular Gastronomy is the love child of cooking and science. Using its principals, you can produce chemical reactions with edible ingredients and create some pretty amazing results. Here's how it works and a few ideas to put it into practice.

Photo by sunday driver

What is it?

Wikipedia offers a concise, specific definition of molecular gastronomy:

Molecular gastronomy is a discipline practiced by both scientists and food professionals that studies the physical and chemical processes that occur while cooking. Molecular gastronomy seeks to investigate and explain the chemical reasons behind the transformation of ingredients, as well as the social, artistic and technical components of culinary and gastronomic phenomena in general.

Ferran Adrià generally gets the credit for fathering the movement, but Nicholas Kurti and Hervé This (a physicist and chemist, respectively) coined the term when starting a number of workshops to explore the science behind cooking. The reason Adrià is often credited with molecular gastronomy, even though he doesn't even believe it's a real term, is because he's done some pretty awesome things in the kitchen with the aid of science. We're going to take a look at a couple of neat ideas that have sprung from this movement, ranging from simple to complex.

What can I do with it?

A lot of seemingly strange but ultimately awesome results can be produced from techniques associated with molecular gastronomy. Let's take a look at a few recipes that make use of these different

Pearls

The idea behind pearls is to capture a liquid flavour inside a tiny little pearl-like ball. This is generally done with pureed vegetables, and eating the result is a pretty unusual, fun and neat experience. Watching the process is pretty cool, as it involves squirting little drops of a puree mixed with brown algae into a calcium chloride formula and seeing a skin form around them. After a moment, you can fish out all the little vegetable pearls and add them to your dish.

Here's how to do it with cantaloupe and make a pretty crazy cantaloupe shake:

More Daring Ideas

Molecular gastronomy can get pretty complex pretty quickly, and even a little bit dangerous. One you probably shouldn't try at home is making ice cream with fruit juice and liquid nitrogen. Here's how it works with watermelons:

Got any interesting molecular gastronomy recipes or experiments of your own? Let's hear 'em in the comments!


Comments

    This has to be one of the first molecular gastronomy articles I've read that makes no mention of Heston Blumenthal, or Fat Duck. Hmmm.

    I've made ice cream with liquid nitrogen before. It was awesome :D

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