Spherification is the culinary process of shaping a liquid into spheres usually using sodium alginate such as Cape Crystal Brands Sodium Alginate mixed with either calcium chloride or calcium glucate lactate. Upon completion the result appears to resemble caviar. The technique was accidentally discovered by Unilever in the 1950s and brought to the modernist cuisine by the creative team at elBulli under the direction of executive chef Ferran Adrià.
With the alginate mixed with water and a calcium salt, when droplets of liquid such as fruit juice each dropped it tends to form into a small sphere in the calcium solution. Then, during a reaction time of a few seconds to a few minutes, the calcium solution causes the outer layer of each alginated liquid sphere to form a thin, flexible skin. The resulting artificial "caviar" balls are rinsed in water and saved for later use in food or beverages. They are especially colorful when filled with a variety of fruit juices.