Learn how to make fruit caviar and serve this showstopping garnish at your next dinner party. Guests are always wowed by these juicy, glossy pearls full of natural fruit flavor that look like something you'd see in a Michelin-starred restaurant.
Food lovers will get such a kick out of making this fruit caviar recipe. I learned about cold oil spherification at culinary school when I trained as a professional chef, and it was one of my favorite lessons. Molecular gastronomy is where science and cooking meet, so you can really nerd out on the physics behind it, as well as create something seriously cool and pretty. Here's how it's done.
🍓 What Is Fruit Caviar?
Fruit caviar is a beautiful and unique edible garnish made with fresh, pureed fruit juice and a setting agent, usually agar agar. The glistening, translucent, and colorful pearls of fruit jelly look and taste delicious when used as a garnish for desserts like ice cream, salads, or even canapes. If you are hosting a dinner party and want to create a showstopper effect to wow guests with your gastronomic prowess, this is a great little recipe for you. It's also known as false caviar, jelly balls, fruit pearls, or gelatin spheres.
📖 Ingredients List
There are just a few simple ingredients for fruit caviar, but the way they are combined and treated is important.
- Fruit - You can use most fruit to make fruit juice caviar, for example, raspberries, blackberries, currants, passion fruit, mango, apple. However, fruits that are high in acidity do not work well, like lemon, lime or pineapple. It is important to use fresh fruit that is ripe and in season so that it has a strong flavor.
- Agar Agar powder - This seaweed derivative is the best setting agent to use for making fruit caviar. You have to activate it by heating it to a certain temperature with the fruit puree; read my full instructions below. Whilst powdered agar agar is thermoreversible, its melting temperature is high, so the agar pearls will stay solid up to a high temperature and won't melt. Which is very cool! You can also use gelatin, but the results are not as strong, and it is not plant-based.
- White granulated sugar - This is just to help the agar agar powder dissolve, so you only need a small amount.
- Cold cooking oil - Cold oil is essential for setting the dessert caviar into little spheres, but it remains unchanged, so you can still use it afterward. You can use cold vegetable oil or cold olive oil; it is up to you. But it has to be very cold; place it into the freezer to chill it thoroughly before use.
See the printable recipe card at the bottom of this post for full quantities and step-by-step directions on how to make fruit caviar.
👩🏼🍳 How to make fruit caviar
- Pour the oil into a tall glass or jug and place it in the freezer or an ice bath to chill it right down. It needs to be very cold for this recipe to work, and the oil needs to be deep.
- Blend the fruit you are using and then (if needed) sieve it to remove any seeds or pips.
- Mix the agar agar powder into a teaspoon of sugar and add it to a saucepan with the fruit puree.
- Bring the juice mixture rapidly to a boil to activate the agar agar powder whilst whisking to dissolve it, then remove from the heat.
- Use a spoon, squeeze bottle, or pipette to carefully drip the fruit and agar mixture into the cold oil. The cold surface of the oil and surface tension will cause the liquid to form little caviar orbs, and then the agar agar will set the small spheres as they drop slowly to the bottom of the glass through the cold oil.
- When you have used all of your fruit puree to make caviar pearls, sieve the oil and retain it for future use. Gently rinse the fruit pearls in cold water to wash off excess oil, and pat dry with paper towels to remove excess water.
🌟 Top Tip 🌟
Make sure you drip the mixture into the oil from sufficient height for the pearls to form. The weight of gravity into the oil, coupled with the surface tension, is what forms the spheres. I find that positioning the pipette around 1 foot above the glass is best. Do not drip from right up close to the oil's surface.
❄️ How To Store Fruit Caviar
Fruit juice caviar is essentially jelly/jello, and needs to be stored in the fridge. Store fruit caviar in an airtight container and use within 3-4 days.
Do not freeze agar caviar; it won't preserve well.
👩🏼🍳 Chef's Tips
- Fruit purees made from less acidic fruits get the best results with agar agar. Pureed berries work really well, as do all currants, and they have a beautiful, vibrant color and strong fruity taste.
- Citrus fruits have too much acid to work well with agar agar so use gelatin instead for citrus fruit caviar.
- You can make bigger pearls or very small ones; it can take a little while to get the hang of it and find a technique. But the key is the cold oil.
- Skim off any air bubbles from the surface of the fruit puree and agar agar mixture before dripping it into the oil. The trapped air will interfere with the forming of the agar pearls.
I like using fruit caviar as a garnish for cocktails or for elegant desserts at dinner parties, but it also works well in salads and savory dishes, too. Try mango caviar on top of avocado, grilled BBQ chicken, or in a spicy salad. Strawberry or raspberry caviar tastes delicious on ice cream.
You will need a food processor, immersion blender, or liquidizer to puree the fruit and a sieve to remove any seeds and to collect the fruit caviar afterward.
Then, to make your fruit puree caviar, you will need a saucepan, a spoon or pipette, and a tall glass or jug.
Yes, but the preparation is different and I do not find the results as reliable. Powdered agar is also much stronger than gelatin powder, so you will need much more gelatin to make an agar agar substitute.
Refrigerate fruit caviar in an airtight container and use it within 3-4 days.
How To Make Fruit Caviar
- 170 ml (¾ cup) fruit puree
- 4 g (1 teaspoon) agar agar powder
- 1 teaspoon white granulated sugar
- 500 ml (2 cups) vegetable oil (very cold)
- 20 ml (1-2 tablebspoon) water (if needed to thin out the puree)
- Place the oil into the freezer to chill it down completely. It needs to be very cold.
- Blend the fruit to make a puree, and sieve if necessary to remove any seeds. Place into a saucepan on the stovetop.
- Mix the agar agar powder with the teaspoon of sugar and then stir it into the fruit puree. Heat the mixture and bring it rapidly to a boil before immediately removing it from the stovetop.
- Take the cold oil from the freezer and use a teaspoon, squeezy bottle, or pipette to drip the fruit puree agar mixture into it slowly from around 1 foot above the glass. Caviar pearls will form on contact with the cold oil and set as they fall to the bottom.
- Sieve the oil to collect the fruit caviar and retain the oil for future use. Rinse the caviar in the sieve in water and serve or store it in the fridge for 3-4 days.
- Citrus fruits have too much acid to work well with agar agar powder. I have had the best results from berries and currants.
- Thicker fruit purees like mango will need to be thinned out with water to work best.
- Gelatin powder can be used instead, but it is not plant-based, and you will need a lot more of it. For best results, use agar agar.
- Agar agar needs heat to be activated, so do not skip the step where it is boiled in the fruit puree.
- Any non-flavored oil can be used, but it must be very cold and in a tall glass or jug.
- The mixture needs to be dropped into the oil from height, so position the pipette around 1 foot or higher above the glass.