Sodium Alginate (Algin) is an extract of seaweed and is used as a thickener, a gelling agent (partially non-thermoreversible) and emulsifier in the food industry. The useful properties of brown seaweeds were known to the ancient Chinese and the Romans, who used them for medical cosmetic purposes. Production of alginates on an industrial scale began in the United States in the 1930s. Originally, alginates were produced for the manufacture of canned food used at sea.
Sodium alginate is the sodium salt of alginic acid, which is a polyuronide made up of a sequence of two hexuronic acids: beta-D mannuronic acid and alpha-L guluronic acid. Sodium Alginate is a colourless, beige or slightly yellow powder. It forms a viscous colloidal solution with water, insouluble in alcohol, ether and chloroform. Sodium alginate may be considered a soluble fiber and similar to other soluble fibers like pectin and psyllium, sodium alginate may have hypocholesterolemic and glycemic-regulatory activities
What does Sodium Alginate do and how do I use it?
Sodium alginate performs two functions one it thickens a solution to increase the viscosity and two it binds tightly to calcium to form a gel. This binding is used by chefs the world over to make fake caviar or spheres. These spheres can be small tight drops or quite large blobs with liquid centres. The man who took this technique from the food technologists and made it main stream was Catalan chef Ferran Adria, of the elBulli restaurant. Ferran named this process spherification. There are a number of calcium powders that can be used for this spherification process. The popular ones are Calcium Chloride, Calcium Lactate, Calcium Gluconolactate and Calcium Carbonate.
How much Sodium Alginate powder do I use?
The best starting off point is to use 0.5 grams of Sodium Alginate powder per 100mls of solution. This is a basic starting point, changes will most likely have to be made to take into account ingredients used and hydration method. Sodium Alginate Powder will mix into cold water without requiring heat to activate.
Spherification will only work when the pH is correct
The ideal pH of the solution you wish to spherise is 6. It is still slightly acidic but close enough to neutral (7) to happly work. Solutions such as passionfruit juice or very acidic products less than pH 4 will need to be buffered to at least pH 5.5. The buffering solution of choice is Sodium Citrate. By adding the sodium citrate you will be decressing the solutions pH there by increasing the pH towards neutral. If too much Sodium Citrate is added it may alter the taste
An interesting ID test for Sodium Alginates?
To test if your white powder is actually sodium alginate it is easy to carry out an ID test. A precipitate formation with calcium chloride should result. To a 0.5% solution of the sodium alginate powder in sodium hydroxide TS add one-fifth of its volume of a 2.5% solution of calcium chloride. A voluminous, gelatinous precipitate is formed. This test distinguishes sodium alginate from gum arabic, sodium carboxymethyl cellulose, carrageenan, gelatin, gum ghatti, karaya gum, carob bean gum, methyl cellulose and tragacanth gum.
The Melbourne Food Depot Sodium Alginate Powder has the following features:
Suitable for Vegans & Vegetarians
Our food grade Sodium Alginate has found many uses in other areas including:
Artisan textile reactive dye printing
Handmade pulp & paper manufacture and coatings
Small scale offset printing applications
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