Modernist Pantry – Molecular Gastronomy

Dabbling in the world molecular gastronomy is easier and easier as the years tick by. What was once out of reach for the average home cook, is now significantly more affordable or accessible. Don’t get me wrong, investing in molecular gastronomy at home is another thing. From $2,000 chamber sealers to $20,000 centrifuges, investing heavily into this modernist cuisine cooking movement at home will leave a significant dent in your pocket book.

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On top of all the tools and equipment, modernist cuisine also brings with it an eye for the scientific. If you’ve ever dreamed of turning your favourite hard, non-melting cheese into something so ooey and gooey you could replace it for nacho cheese…wait no more. With the addition of a few key ingredients, you can do that and A LOT more. Some of these items are relatively common and can be found at your local health food store. Others however, have typically required a chef’s connection or serious internet sleuthing skills to uncover. Even then, I wouldn’t have been surprised if some items had a delay at the border.

Thankfully, well for Americans that is, the Modernist Pantry created a online store with all of those hard to find ingredients. Need Carboxymethyl Cellulose, no problem. How about Transglutaminase (Meat Glue), also no problem. From thickeners to emulsifiers, gelling agents to stabilizers, the Modernist Pantry has it all. They even sell items in a smaller, more convenient home sized package for all your experimental needs.

I’ve recently become obsessed* with Thomas Keller’s Compressed Watermelon and Hayden Mango “Yolk”, aka Steak Tartare, and need a few vital ingredients to pull this dish off (pictures to come in another post). So I took the plunge and created a basket full of items;

Sodium Alginate – 50g
Soy Lecithin Powder – 50g
Ascorbic Acid – 50g
Sodium Hexametaphosphate – 50g
Calcium Lactate Gluconate – 50g
Sodium Citrate – 50g
Xanthan Gum – 50g

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Shipping was lightening fast with a confirmation email sent just a day after my order. I was thankful for the quick shipping as my $51 US order was charged another $34.30 US for a grand total of $85.30. Those darn pesky US dollars! Once my items hit Canada, I was charged another $30 dollars for miscellaneous items like, ‘storage fee’, ‘after hours clearance’, and ‘import fees’. Within just a matter of days my initial cost, without shipping was almost tripled. Now that’s a hit the pocketbook.

Needless to say. The products themselves work great. They were delivered in a timely fashion. They come in well built, resealable bags. They bags are labeled amazingly well and are even colour coded to that products specific use. If you’re south of the border and looking for somewhere easy to pick up all of your needs, look no further than Modernist Pantry. If, like me, you’re in the cold north a few more hours sleuthing away on the internet might be in order if you want to save a few bucks.

*Not pictured for the dish is Kelcogel F, a hydrocolloid, that I ordered separately.

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