Molecular Gastronomy Kits are not essential to the art and science of molecular gastronomy, but they certainly are a great introduction.
It is of course possible to get yourself a molecular gastronomy book and take yourself through it step-by-step – but you’ll also need to invest in any equipment and ingredients that are needed – these can soon start to add up!
So the all in one solution has to be a cuisine kit – they are quite expensive if you add up the costs of what is in the box, but I think it goes a bit beyond just that. There is no excuse for not getting the recipes actually completed if you have the ingredients, the equipment and the recipes!!! Actually that is totally true, the kits don’t include all of the equipment (you still need the kitchen basics and perhaps a stick-blender) plus they only have the molecular chemical additives – not the bog-standard kitchen ingredients. If you haven’t got the lised ingredient then it can be a bit expensive – for example one of the molecular mixology kits that I was looking at had various spirits listed as ingredients that I didn’t own – plus I also know that if I bought a bottle then I’d only use the 150 ml needed for the recipe and find myself with some putrid blue curacao lurking around my cupboard for all eternity. SO perhaps the secret here is to improvise, it is the molecular aspects of the kit that you’re interested in and not the gastronomy parts (at least not while you are just having a little play!) so some creative substitution can get you out of a hole! Then if the technique works then you can always get the real stuff later, if it doesn’t then you’ll be glad that you kept the money in your pocket.
Do be aware though that even small changes in the acidity, viscosity or salt can interfere with the way that the chemicals work – remember molecular gastronomy kit are all about chemistry and science needs to be precise!!!