Spherification is the creation of liquid “bead” like solids which pop in the mouth to create an explosion of flavour. They can be served hot or cold, in a mound that reminds of caviar or dispersed in a cocktail.
This works through the reaction of calcium salt with a gelling agent (sodium alginate), together they form a gelatinous wall around the liquid creating a sphere (hence the name spherification!). While being a gel like solid on the outside they are still in fact liquid on the inside, when eaten they therefore produce a “burst in the mouth” sensation.
There are two types of Spherification, Basic Spherification and Reverse Spherification.
Basic Spherification involves adding the gelling agent directly to the liquid you wish to spherify. However Reverse Spherification involves mixing the gelling agent with the setting bath, the liquid base is therefore encapsulated but in contrast to basic Spherification; does not become a gel itself.