X-Peri-Mas #22 – Jingle Balls

My wife’s family have a tradition of a BBQ just before Christmas. My family have a tradition of pancakes – so here we are on Christmas Eve Eve eating pancakes and I was trying to think of what experiment I should do for you all on the penultimate X-Peri-Mas and I thought of a little trick I learned years ago to make balls of flavoured jelly.

This might need some kit that you won’t find in your kitchen – against my usual rules – but it’s worth it! You can buy the ingredients online.

You will need:

  • Sodium alginate
  • Sugar
  • Lemon juice
  • Bicarbonate of soda
  • Calcium lactate
  • Water
  • A sieve

Mix 1 tsp of sodium alginate with 2 tsp of sugar and 1 tsp of bicarbonate of soda. You’ll need to very slowly add this to 500 mL water while constantly whisking away as hard as you can. You might need to have two people to do this! Slowly add lemon juice – it will start to fizz up and foam so just be patient. Keep going until you can taste the mixture and it tastes lemony enough for you. We need the bicarbonate of soda to balance the pH of the lemon juice but it makes the mix taste more like sherbert than lemon so try and get a balance!

Leave your alginate solution for a while for the bubbles to settle out.

Now mix up your calcium lactate solution – add 2 tsp of calcium lactate to 500 mL of water and give it a really good mix.

Drip your sodium alginate solution into the calcium lactate solution. When the sodium in the alginate swaps over with the calcium you end up with calcium alginate that forms a gel instead and surrounds your droplets as they land in the solution. You end up with little spheres of lemony jelly!

Pour it through a sieve to get your lemon spheres back and ready to eat.

This is perfect for pancakes, Christmas traditions and X-Peri-Mas combined.

Only one more X-Peri-Mas to go! Christmas Eve is the last one. Its been a lot of fun though so make sure you check out tomorrows final experiment.

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