Sunday, April 16, 2017

They aren't mistakes: They're salty, gummy, tasty learning opportunities

Every day I see posts and messages from those of you who are scared to try something because you might waste supplies or make an unsuccessful product. To you I say this: Get in the workshop and try making something! You will learn nothing until you have the experience of holding the ingredients in your hands and working through the instructions! (Sorry for yelling, but this is something I'm really passionate about!)

Please allow me to share a story with you. On Friday, a brilliant and talented young woman named Jessica, who is currently attending school to become a pastry chef, taught me how to make edible spheres using sodium alginate and calcium chloride. She made a lovely honey and water simple syrup to go into iced tea, and we made guava ones later on. (Yes, they were both awesome!)

She really wanted to try making soy sauce spheres to put on sushi, but our attempts failed. We pondered the chemistry of the situation for a bit, then consulted the internet for more recipes. One suggested we try making them with agar agar, and, luckily, I had a food grade version in the workshop, so we gave it a go.

Less than an hour later, we had soy sauce spheres.!We had a bit of the agar agar/soy sauce combination left over and my gummy bear molds arrived earlier last week, so we put two and two together to create...SOY SAUCE GUMMY BEARS!

I know, right? SOY SAUCE GUMMY BEARS!!! (Patent pending, TM, and all that jazz!) 

Let me tell you, they were delicious! They had all the awesome saltiness of soy sauce without making the sushi and agedashi tofu* soppy and wet. One was perfect for a small roll, two perfect for the larger ones. Two days later, they are still soft and gummy outside the fridge, and they still taste awesome.

This will lead to more experimentation making fruit gummies, which we'll share with our youth programs, and it'll lead to more experiments using the agar agar for bath & body products as it's shown it can stand up to electrolytes, like the salts we find in so many of our ingredients, which I'll share here with you.

Why am I sharing a story about SOY SAUCE GUMMY BEARS!!! with you on a bath & body product blog?

One, soy sauce gummy bears are awesome! They're all salty and yummy, and part of me wants to just eat them without the sushi, but apparently that makes me some kind of monster, according to my friends and husband. (I like Marmite, too. Don't judge me!)

And two, we wouldn't have started our experiments with agar agar if we hadn't failed in our original attempts. We would have made the original spheres and been very happy with them. Instead, the failure made us go looking for more answers, and we found a a recipe that was more wonderful than we thought possible that opened up our minds to all kinds of new and wonderful ideas!

There are no such things as mistakes when it comes to playing in our workshops (and kitchens): They're opportunities to learn what we like and what we don't like. I know it's hard to throw away what seem like wasted ingredients that cost money and took forever to get to us by mail, but you'll have learned so much, including what doesn't work, what you hate, and what not to do again. I always say I gain confidence from my successes, but I learn more from my failures.

Allow me a moment to share my origin story with you. I made bath bombs a few times before sharing then with my youth program. They failed miserably, falling to pieces in our hands, which lead me on a quest to find out why. I stumbled upon the Dish Forum, where I found recipes for lotion and more, plus an amazing community of people who shared their knowledge and recipes. The questions that arose while I made those first recipes lead me to learn chemistry, which lead me to create this blog so I could share my passion for our craft with you, my lovely readers.

If those bath bombs had worked, I would have had lovely bath bombs for a day or two, but I wouldn't have set out on this exciting adventure that has included creating this blog, writing the e-books, instructing, and all the other lovely things that I enjoy every day.

RECIPE FOR SOY SAUCE GUMMIES (a modification of the recipe found here...) 
175 grams soy sauce
2 grams agar agar

Mix the two together in a saucepan. Bring to a boil while mixing, then remove from the heat. Pour into the molds, then put in the freezer to cool. It took about 10 minutes per mold of 50 small gummies.

I'm not sure how many gummies this recipe will make as we made a bunch of other things before we decided to try the gummy mold.

I bought my gummy bear molds from - here's a link for the ones I bought, which were $13 for 3 molds* - but you could use all kinds of things, like silicone ice cube trays from the dollar store. These are very small gummies, and I don't think I'd want them to be much bigger as they're already a salty punch in the face, and I say this as someone who carries a small shaker of salt around in her purse just in case they don't have it when I need it.

My sodium registers as "low" in blood tests, which comes as a shock to me, so there's no need to worry about my blood pressure. I think it's the only thing about me health-wise that's not worrisome!

We did try the version in the link to the recipe above where he drops soy sauce into cold olive oil, but we didn't get cute little spheres out of it and they were a little too big for our tastes. I'm sure, with time, we could get that method right.

As always, the links I provide on this blog are for informational purposes only. I don't receive any compensation of any sort from anyone if you buy those gummy bear molds or anything else I tell you about here. Just wanted to remind you of that. 

Also, did you know that there's some kind of new link where pages get some kind of kickback if you visit them, then visit Amazon for something completely different after you leave their page? You don't have to click on a link or anything. What the heck is up with that??? 

Do you have a happy accident story to share? What have you learned from failed attempts? What are you grateful didn't work the first time? Please share your thoughts in the comments! 


Airfun said...

Love this post Susan! Fun with food! This reminded me I had at one point intended to make Balsamic pearls - I have agar agar in the cupboard...must revisit that :) I first saw different cool things with food reading a blog looking for info on Sous Vide.

I make my hair conditioner from recipes and the wealth of info on ingredients and what they do that you share on your blog, it is without a doubt the best source to gain knowledge on how stuff works, and presented in an easy to understand engaging way. Can you tell I'm a fan? lol


Barb Van Ee said...

Bath bombs were the bane of my soap making career for YEARS after the "blue foam nightmare". My first attempt was just a miserable failure, nothing held together not enough moisture then too much and we just played with the fizzy crumbles. Then it happened, I made beautiful blue bombs the perfect size, the perfect shape smelling sweetly of lilacs and gardenias but how to get them to dry quickly...put them in the oven on the lowest setting right? I put them on a paper towel lined cookie sheet then as luck would have it the neighbor felt like being chatty so there they sat in the oven...drying for a what length of time I am not sure. You would think not to much other than drying could be going on but noooooooooo they were growing and flowing ALL OVER THE INSIDE OF MY OVEN. There was a blue floral foamy mess in every nook and cranny of the oven that took me 2 hours to scrape, scrub and wash out and if that wasn't enough, since it wasn't a self cleaning oven I couldn't burn of the remaining mess in the spots I could reach so everytime I turned it on the kitchen smelled of flowers (which I can no longer stand the smell of to this day some 16 years later). That was my last experience with bath bombs until this spring when a friend encouraged me to try again...trauma aside I did, they are gorgeous and I love making them...but not Lilac and Gardenia.

Lindy Young said...

Last week I immersion blended DPHP with hyaluronic acid, and it turned white and milky (and stayed that way) which was an effect I was trying to accomplish in a different recipe earlier that week and was nearly exactly what I was looking for! I didn't know it would do that, but I was very pleased.