Having gone over the price ranges of the tools and gadgets of Modernist Cuisine, let’s look at specialty ingredients next. The food additives used in Modernist Cuisine are considered safe. The names might be ‘science-y” and therefore unpalatable, but if you have no problem with sodium bicarbonate (baking powder) and ascorbic acid (vitamin C), you should be fine with these.
Collecting A Kit Of Chemicals
The first place one should start when delving into the New Cookery would be a kit with a selection of different additives and some example recipes. It’s a simple way to test out different techniques (spherification, foams, etc.) and see what you’re interested in before buying larger quantities. They also make a nice gift if you know someone who’s interested.
- Artistre Molecular Gastronomy Spherification Starter Kit – $32.86
Contains the three additives you need to spherify, if that’s all you’re interesting in trying out. Also comes with a syringe, squeeze bottle and slotted spoon.
- Artistre Experimental Kit – $59.40
Artistre’s larger kit, this contains 12 additives but no tools. The amount they give you (50g of each) and the breadth of types make this a great deal.
- Molecule-R Molecular Gastronomy Kit – $63.02
Comes with five additives, as well as pipettes, tubes, measuring spoons, a slotted spoon and a DVD with 50 recipe examples.
- Experimental Kit Texturas, 150 Grams – $44.40
This is the line of custom additives created for Ferran Adria. Comes with 10g each of 12 additives and no tools.
- Cuisine Innovation – 12.50€ – 79.99€
This French company has several different kits available to begin exploring Modernist Cuisine
For most other additives, you need to buy in bulk. This can leave you with a large amount of powders that as a home cook that you probably won’t or can’t use. One way to mitigate this is to go in with others – start a molecular cooking club! This is what Scott, Eric and I have done and we trade powders, successes and failures, and generally have a blast. I highly recommend it.
A few weeks back, I saw Nathan Myhrvold do a talk on the Microsoft campus concerning the release of Modernist Cuisine. During the Q&A, a person asked “Where would I find these specialty ingredients?” Nathan looked bemused, and after a slight pause, asked “Have you ever heard of the Internet?” Indeed, there are several sites on the Internet to buy what you need. Prices depend on what you’re looking into buying. For the general stuff, you can find most of what you need at these online stores:
For some other ingredients, I’ve also used these sites:
A lot of ingredients can be found at your local store. Agar agar? In almost every Asian grocery store. In Seattle, I’ve found xanthan gum at PPC Natural Market, and lethicin and malic acid at Super Supplements. Just look around your neighborhood and see what you find.
Hard To Find
Lastly, there are the ingredients that can’t be found easily. For that, you just need to brush up on your research skills. For instance, I could only find high methoxyl pectin on eBay. For others ingredients, which are only sold in very large quantities to the food industry, I hunted down the company name, called them, and asked for samples. Sometimes you get someone who will help, sometimes not. Your results will vary.
But you don’t need to go that far straight away. With a small investment of around 50 bucks, you can see if this is something worth pursuing. That’s what I did. And now look. Sheesh.
I just noticed agar agar in the bulk spices section at Whole Foods. Other than that, the internet is king!
Great post, Jeth.
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Kevin Liu said:
Great post. I’ve been trying to put together a little guide to modernist ingredients. Would you mind taking a look and telling me what you think?
Also, have you seen this guide to suppliers?
Yes, I’ve seen that list. I’m sure I’ll be using it soon to find some of the more exotic ingredients…
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