Friday Food Math: Mad Kitchen Scientist

Part of the fun of molecular gastronomy (or whatever you want to call it, but you know what we’re talking about here) is getting to play with all the fancy toys: cryovacs, vacuum chambers, ultrasonic baths, liquid nitrogen, a cooktop that freezes instead of heats. Good stuff! Lately we’ve been particularly interested in the (admittedly a bit twee) creation of “caviar” from various liquids. The process is pretty simple: mix the liquid of your choice with some alginic acid, and drop it one precious drop at a time into a solution of calcium chloride.

Enter purveyor of gourmet equipment L’Epicerie, who want to make the whole eyedropper process a whopping 96 times faster, with their helpful 96-in-one dropper — $47.50 for the shebang, which comes to a minuscule $0.494 per drop, less than half a buck per precious ball of alcoholic caviar!

But we are savvy consumers of odd cooking equipment, and wonder if perhaps this gastronomical pipette can’t be found for a bit cheaper than L’Epicerie’s price. A quick bit of googling revealed the Bel-Art Vaccu-Pette/96, which looks more or less identical to L’Epicerie’s model, and can be ordered through such badass-sounding outlets as and, for just a scant $0.45 more than L’Ep: $47.95, or $0.499 per drop — enough, in our book, to round that up to a sold fifty cents per pearl.

But wait! What’s this on

Requires a 35ml disposable sterile syringe (not included).

And L’Epicerie notes that their 96-dropper comes with its own syringe — a whopping 60ml one, no less! Even if we factor in the additional cost of a syringe, it looks like they’re more or less only available in lots of 100, and the annoyance factor of having to explain to our dinner guests what we are doing with a bulk-pack of disposable syringes actually tips the scales, proving (for perhaps the first time) that it is more cost-efficient to buy your fancy home-cooking tool from a fancy home-cooking store.

[Photo 1: Cointreau “caviar,” via newyorkinsider’s Flickr]
[Photo 2: L’Epicerie’s 96-dropper (with included syringe!)]


Friday Food Math: Mad Kitchen Scientist