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Infusion Profusion: Game-Changing Fast ‘N Cheap Technique

August 11th, 2010 · 209 Comments · Uncategorized

By Dave Arnold
You can infuse flavors into liquor (and water based things, too) almost instantly with nothing more than an iSi Cream Whipper . You can use seeds, herbs, spiced, fruits, cocoa nibs, etc. Here’s how:

Put room-temperature booze into the cream whipper. Add herbs, seeds, whatever. Close the whipper and charge it with nitrous oxide (N2O –the regular whipped cream chargers). Swirl gently 30 seconds and let stand 30 seconds more. Quickly vent the N2O out of the whipper, open it, and strain out the infusion. Done.

Left: Mis en place --booze, parsley, whipper, N2O cartridge. Middle: pour in booze. Right: stuff in parsley.

Left: charge with N2O. Middle: swirl for 30 seconds then let sit for another 30. Right: vent the gas back to the atmosphere.

Done

I did a 5-minute knee-slapping song-singing jig around the school when I figured out this technique.  It’s really good. I like it better than vacuum infusion for some products. Plus, a vacuum machine will set you back 2 grand.

I got the idea from a technique emailed to me by Mister Fizz. Mister Fizz does rapid marination using pressurized CO2.   He gets chicken strips to soak up a heap of marinade real quick.  Pretty nifty.  Here is a YouTube video.  I figured if you could force liquid into foods using pressure, maybe you could also force flavor out.

Here is what I think is happening:

When you charge your whipper with nitrous oxide, high pressure forces liquid and nitrous oxide into the pores of your flavorful food (your seeds or herbs or what-have-you.)  When you suddenly release the pressure inside the whipper, the nitrous forms bubbles and escapes from the food quickly, bringing flavor and liquid out with it.

Some pointers:

Use room temperature food and liquid.  In our tests, cold liquid made for weaker infusions. The cold infusions were slightly clearer than warm ones, but I think that’s because they were weaker.  I suspect the bubbling of the N2O is less violent in colder products;  the violent bubbling is what brings out the flavor.

The room temperature rum labeled "H" made a much stronger infusion than the cold rum labeled "C"

Use N2O, not CO2. CO2 can leave some residual carbonation and flavor in your liquor, N2O won’t (there might be a slight sweetness from the N2O, but it will flash off pretty quick in room temperature liquid).

In our tests it didn’t seem to matter whether we vented the whipper quickly or slowly, although I persist in believing that quicker venting is better because of the violent bubbling effect.

We tested infusing a mixture of orange peel, Thai basil and cilantro into rum for 30 seconds, one minute, two minutes and three minutes.  We swirled the containers every 30 seconds during the tests. The one-minute batch tasted best, 30 seconds was weak, two minutes was a little bitter, and three minutes was bitter and grassy. I suppose the optimum infusion time is different from product to product, but we know for sure that infusion time matters.

Different infusion times: 30 seconds, one minute, two minutes, three minutes. In this test, one minute tasted best.

The amount of liquid in the whipper and the number of N2O chargers you use also makes a difference. Our standard batch was 120 mls of liquor in a one-liter whipper using one N2O cartridge.  Tripling the amount of liquor to 360 mls resulted in better balanced, but weaker, infusion. We boosted flavor in the 360 ml batch with a second N20 charger.  Using 2 chargers in the standard 120 ml batch made a harsh infusion.

Cream whippers are better for this technique than soda bottles, even if you have a large N20 tank like we do.  The large mouth of the whippers is extremely useful.

If you crush green herbs before they are infused, the infusion might turn brown over time.  Ascorbic acid might help but will also alter flavor.

An infusion of crushed Thai basil, on left, turned brown. Undamaged leaves, on right, didn't.

The standard recipe:

120 mls white rum
3 grams cilantro leaves
8 grams Thai basil leaves
8.5 grams orange peel

Charge with N20, swirl for 30 seconds.  Allow to infuse for 1 minute total, then vent and strain.

Other flavors we tried, using a 1 minute infusion into vodka:

Star anise made a strong infusion with a smoky note and lots of color.

Sliced jalapenos made a very spicy infusion that also captured the green notes of the jalapeno.  It had much more actual jalapeno character than traditional infusions we have tried.

Sliced ginger produced an infusion that was light in flavor but clean, similar to ginger ale.  Our slices were somewhat thick; thin slices might produce a stronger infusion.

Left to right: star anise; jalapeno; ginger.

Fresh bay leaves didn’t taste great, but might be good with something else.  Bay leaves didn’t infuse well till they were crushed.

Sliced carrot infusion picked up a lot of color but not a lot of flavor. The flavor the infusion did pick up wasn’t great.

Carrot. Color: great. Taste: meh.

The best we saved for last.  This little gem was Nils’ idea:

Cocoa nibs made a cloudy but very flavorful infusion. If you let it settle for a half hour, it clears up substantially. A miraculous thing about the nibs infusion — it’s not bitter, just chocolate-y.  Apparently, it takes longer to extract the bitter flavors than the chocolate ones.

Cocoa nibs infusion. Chocolate flavor, no sugar, no bitterness. This will clear a bit if left to settle.

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209 Comments so far ↓

  • niklase

    Sweet, I need to try to make a Mojito using this technique already tonight.

  • fanny

    do you reckon I can use this technique to make quick vanilla extract with vodka and both used and fresh vanilla pods?

  • H. Alexander Talbot

    Great extrapolation and technique. We were working with the isi as a pressure marinantion device a while ago and had since forgotten about it.
    wish we had thought of using it as the extractor when we were wrote this a few years ago

    it is always wonderful and humbling to realize low tech or at least relatively inexpensive can often provide the right and simplest answers.

    now onto the questions, have you tried flavored fats like coffee or chorizo?
    thanks for sharing and tweaking the mind. i now need to go buy some stock in isi!!!

  • H. Alexander Talbot

    you mention carbonation leaving a residual taste and texture, but did you find those infused with carbonation more aromatic?

    A

  • Barzelay

    I suspect that it works better with cold liquids because the N2O is more soluble in the colder liquid.

    • Ran

      You got that backwards.

    • Rob Handel

      While you’re right about the solubility, your conclusion is wrong. Assuming that Dave is correct about the rapid bubbling releasing flavor (which seems logical to me) room temperature liquor should be used, because a lower solubility leads to more bubbling.

  • foodplayer

    Revolutionary!
    Thank you, thank you!

  • Larry P.

    Cool stuff. Thanks for sharing. A quick question. If you were to do this with, say, strawberries and tequila, would the strawberries also be infused with the booze after straining them out? Does it work in both directions or only as an extraction method?

    • davearnold

      Good question Larry P.
      I tried infusing rum into a pineapple with this technique and was dissapointed compared with a vacuum. I think it is better for extraction (making pineapple flavored rum).

    • chris edwardes

      oh yes

  • Dan

    Well done! You’ve rediscovered nitrogen cavitation and put it to novel use. Cavitation is used in cell biology labs to gently disrupt cells in a vessel ominously called a “nitrogen bomb” (as the gas here is nitrogen). The usual explanation is close to what you surmised: under pressure, gas penetrates the cells, then forms bubbles to disrupt the cells when the pressure is suddenly released. Your use of the technique looks a lot more interesting than my experiences with it in a lab.

    • tomdarch

      Dave, these bio guys are pointing out that not only is the gas being pushed in at a relatively “large” scale (1mm into a seed), but that this effect is actually happening inside the cells of the material to some degree. This may be part of what’s going on with your darkened basil infusion. It would be interesting for them to describe what pressure and for how long they run the cavitation process typically, particularly when they are intentionally blowing apart the cells. I’d think that sometimes you would want the cells exploded, and sometimes not.

      I wonder if cavitation would have made things more pleasant the summer I worked in a university lab extracting an enzyme from large quantities of frozen restaurant squid. The cool factor was that the enzyme breaks down Sarin nerve gas, the suck factor was that 1)I had to break open the squid guts cells with a type of grinder (yes, that smelled awful) and 2)that I didn’t get to play with the (very dangerous) centrifuge.

      That reminds me – do you cooking guys know about column chromatography? (or automated chromatography, for that matter) If not check it out…

      • davearnold

        Howdy Tomdarch,
        I would also like to know the lab protocol. What is interesting about the lab procedure to me is that they appear to use a relatively insoluble gas, nitrogen. My guess is that to get good cavitation they would need relatively high pressures. In the N2O system, the gas is very soluble in the liquid medium, but we abruptly change the solubility by dropping the pressure. I wonder if using a soluble gas, like N2O, decreases the pressure requirements over the lab procedure using N2. Dunno.

        Were you using the grinder made by IKA? That would be hilarious (because ika means squid in Japanese). There is a fish sauce called Ishiri from northern Japan made exclusively from squid guts. It is delicious. Who knew it also protected from never gas attacks.

        I have wanted a GC Mass Spec unit for a while but don’t have the cash. I am looking into a kitchen version of liquid/liquid chromatography with an outfit called Cherry Instruments but haven’t played with it yet.

      • Dan

        You can get info on the lab protocols by using Google Scholar to search for nitrogen cavitation. The first couple of references I found used, for cooled samples, about 800 psi for 15 min then an instantaneous release to atmospheric pressure. My recollection is that different cell membranes are susceptible to different pressures. In a similar vein, you might find that different components are extracted if you disrupt at different pressures.

  • Sten

    I came here to say what Dan said. Cavitation is often used to disrupt cell membranes in animal, plant, and microbial samples, while being fairly benign to the contents of the disrupted cells. However, it’s usually done on ice (to protect the cell contents from thermal denaturation). I guess either you aren’t pressurizing high enough to get good gas escape in a cold liquid, or the increased extraction in the warm liquid just comes from the cells’ contents being more soluble.

  • JasonW

    Might be time to buy one of those ISI whipped cream makers…. maybe in a few weeks when my budget recovers from the Sous Vide Professional I just purchased.

  • Brandon

    Dave,

    Absolutely loving this. Couple quick questions… Is there any reason why one would use the ISI Gourmet model over the base level Whippers? And, any thoughts as to how to expand the process to yield a larger product? i.e. greater volume chargers / vessels, higher concentration + dilution, etc…

    Cheers!
    – B

    • davearnold

      Howdy Brandon,
      I don’t think the base level whippers will make an inferior product but the stainless looks good on the gourmet. If you were going to do very high volumes I might try an N2O tank and a 5 gallon Cornelius keg to do volumes up to 2 gallons or so.

      • Sam

        You probably cannot buy N2O tanks, it is a controlled substance in large quantities (hippie crack). You have to be a dentist, typically, to buy in tank form.

        There is a variety sold for automotive racing (nitrous injection), but it has hydrogen sulfide added to it to make it horrifically inedible (again with the hippie crack).

        • davearnold

          Howdy Sam,
          You can get N2O tanks, you just have to convince the guys at the welding shop. The first time I tried they said –“you need a license to prescribe that.” I said, “no I don’t, I’m not a doctor and I’m not administering it to patients, I’m making whipped cream at a cooking school.” A lot of letters later and a couple calls to the fire dept (so they would tell the welding guys they had no objection), and I have my tank

          • ali_m

            I would strongly suggest not using N2O from a welding supplier, since it will contain sulphur dioxide as an adulterant to prevent substance abuse. This would at the very least taint the flavour of whatever you are infusing. Whippits contain food/medical grade N2O which is much purer.

          • davearnold

            The welding shops carry medical grade –but you do need to specify.

          • Matt Garvey

            Alrighty, so I know I said I didn’t have a cream whipper to test on but I was able to shanghai one from a friend to test on for the weekend, yay. The basis for everything I’ve tried is because a friend has entered a tapas competition (and is going to Spain to compete in the following 2 weeks). I’m trying to find ways of A) getting more flavour and, B) saving her time.

            The first thing is making an infusion of serrano ham to be turned into a foam/froth (lecithin, immersion blender). I’ve read the posts about people wondering about the infusion of fats/their flavors using this technique, hopefully this adds a bit of insight. The way we were originally doing it after experimenting was taking 80g of ham, 300ml of water, bringing it up to a simmer and letting it infuse.

            A problem we were encountering was to get the depth of flavor we wanted, it needed to infuse for atleast 45minutes. The competition gives you 2 hours the day before prep, but we discovered that the stove top infusion made the day before lost quite a bit of its punch and got a touch salty. With only 25 minutes of time the day of, kind of a bind.

            But tonight I tried the iSi technique with with different ratios/times and finally settled on 40g of ham + 300ml of water @ 60ºC + two N2O chargers and 3 minutes of infusion time. And wow, what originally took 45 minutes of time on a stove top was condensed down to 3 using cavitation (with half the amount of ham). The flavor itself was a little different, I couldn’t believe the amount of fruit/ester like notes I was able to pick up using this technique. Also it was less salty, allowing me to season to my taste (I actually ended up drinking the full 300ml of serrano ham while watching a movie…).

            Now I havn’t tried this on any form of alcohol (surprisingly none in the apartment right now) but H2O managed to pick up on the flavor despite how it and fats don’t get along. But since alcohols have both a hydrophobic and hydrophilic end, I’m assuming they’d be able to play a little bit nicer with the lipids of your choice (bacon vodka for caesars perhaps). Although, I am still only 3/4’s of the way through McGee and could be completely and utterly wrong on this account.

            Also tomorrow I’ll be trying a couple other things with, including my original question about flambe+infused alcohol flavor retention. So I’ll post when I get home.

        • food and hippy crack connoisseur

          Laughing gas fans have found a perfectly safe if mildly expensive way to filter sulfates from adulterated N2O.

          You tap the main high pressure cylinder with a regulator down to about 5-7 PSI and bubble it through a secondary tank of water and baking soda in a Cornelius keg, and then you tap the Cornelius keg with hoses for consumption by folks at your happy balloon party.

          The main expense is the regulators, connections and hoses and Cornelius keg. Baking soda is obviously cheap, and the baking soda will filter at least a few tanks if not a dozen tanks before needing to be replaced.

          I’m not sure what the actual PSI rating is for Cornelius kegs, but I know it’s a lot higher then 10 PSI – and I’m not sure what the PSI rating is for a whipped cream maker, but I know it’s not very high.

          So it would stand to reason you could filter auto/industrial N2O through a primary Cornelius keg and pipe that into your clean secondary C-keg for doing large batches of infusions.

          Bonus points if you throw a nitrous-and-cocktail party with infused cocktails. I for one would have no issues with inhaling aromatically infused alcohol-filtered N2O gas as long as the infusion wasn’t hot peppers. That would be fantastic.

          Though you could probably do pressurized infusions with just pure nitrogen or even compressed air if you had a clean source – I don’t see any reason why it would have to be N2O other then the fact it’s readily available as a “clean” compressed gas source that’s not CO2, which as stated carbonates things and imparts a CO2 taste.

          I wouldn’t recommend using a shop compressor for a source of compressed air, though. Most industrial air compressors impart a fine vapor of lubricating oil due to the way industrial compressors work. You’d need a food/med grade compressor, or a set of really good filters downstream from the compressor and upstream from your infusion tank.

  • Jacob Burton

    Great post! This just opened up some many doors. Looks like I’ll need to order another case of chargers. I think this coupled with your agar clarification technique will yield some great possibilities.

    I think Alex raises a good point too about trying to use this technique to infuse fats. I’ll have to put that on my “to try” list.

  • chuck

    You’ve saved my bacon! I was going to make some rue-infused grappa for a friend’s birthday, but didn’t think I’d have enough time for it to get tasty before giving it to him. Thanks!

    Mostly unrelatedly: the other day I found some strawberries that I was soaking in tequila and had forgotten about for a week or two. When I strained them out, in addition to the awesome strawberry tequila and disgusting-looking grayish strawberries, there was a bunch of awesome solid chunks of tequila-strawberry jelly. Any idea if the alcohol helped extract the pectin? I’d never seen that before.

    • davearnold

      Interesting Chuck,
      I don’t know about the pectin but I have seen weird things happen before. Perhaps a question for WD or Senior McGee.

    • Martin

      Pectin is not soluble in alcohol. What happens is that the pectin precipitates out (and this is actually what they do when the produce pure pectin – they use ethanol or some other alcohol to precipitate the pectin). If you want to make infusions of pectin rich fruit and have trouble with gel formation, then you need to lower the alcohol percentage.

  • jeremiah bullfrog

    game changing central!
    funny, never realized the potential while quick carbonating berries and such.
    have been doing poor man’s champagne for some time now. white wine / strawberries / co2 charge

    • davearnold

      I bet berries work better sliced (at least ones with nonporous skins, like grapes)

  • Andrew

    This technique is super cool. I’ve been excitedly making infusions all day, but I’ve noticed some odd behavior I was curious about.

    Tonight, we had some friends over and made:

    – Long pepper infused tequila (best bloody mary ever)
    – Star anise infused rum
    – Creme de Banana (8oz mixed rums w/ 1/2 banana then added 1/3 c 2:1 simple syrup)
    – Date infused bourbon

    They were all really good, but we noticed something strange and I’m wondering if other people have had this problem, too. When we strained the infusion and tried them immediately after venting the gas, we noticed that they had very little infused flavor. After sitting for around five minutes, the flavor was full developed and awesome. We speculated that this might have something to do with the nitrogen bubbles dissolving and releasing flavor, but I don’t know anything about chemistry, so that’s a wild guess. Is this something others have observed as well? Is it normal?

    • davearnold

      Hey Andrew,
      I did not notice that. Very interesting. I also need to test out letting the infusions sit for a minute after they are vented but before straining. That is a variable I missed.

      • Rupert

        I also noticed this when doing cucumbers in gin. After sitting for five minutes the flavor seemed to be way more intense!

        Off this topic, do you think you would get more flavor if you toasted or heated up the aromatics first, or would that kind of seal off the ingredient from being penetrated?

        Thanks for being a genius!!!

      • Terry

        We noticed this too. I thought that the immediate result was a suspension of cells (we where using pineapple mint in vodka), and that, over time, the flavor transferred to the vodka via osmosis. After 15 minutes the vodka tasted as strong as eating the leaf itself.

      • Colin Gore

        Did you measure the temperature of the infusion when loaded, just after releasing, and a few minutes later? The temperature would likely drop due to the volume change of the gas when:
        1) The N2O charge is added
        2)The pressure in the iSi is released.

        I don’t know how large the change in temp would be, but it may be the simple warming up of the liquid over the few minutes after opening the iSi that volatilizes a bit more of the aromatics and impacts the flavor.

        Can anyone quantify these temp changes?

        • davearnold

          Howdy Colin,
          I didn’t measure the temperature, but the liquid doesn’t get appreciably colder.

        • Terry

          just FYI we nuked the chilled vodka to room temp before infusion. we didn’t notice difference in temp after the infusion.

    • Dan

      There’s another possible explanation. N2O is an anesthetic (although I’ve only heard of its use as an inhalant), so perhaps the N2O-rich fresh solution interferes with taste sensation. Given time, the N2O leaves the solution and allows you to taste the flavors. You could test this by mixing other flavors into the fresh extract and see if they are masked, or charging a flavorful solution with N2O and see if its flavor is masked.

      • davearnold

        I have heard of N20 having anesthetic issues in drinks but I haven’t tested

        • Inane

          An interesting aside, my friend mixed up the No2 and the CO2 chargers when making seltzer one time. Strangest tasting seltzer ever.

          • davearnold

            Hello Inane,
            We mix Co2 and N20 on purpose all the time. It tastes good if you get the proportions right (which is hard to do in a whipper).

  • jefferymickelson

    Thank you for the amazing post! :)

  • Anne

    Dave, have you tried infusing bourbon or rye this way? Or is it best reserved for white spirits?

    • davearnold

      Hi Anne, good to hear from you.
      We haven’t tried dark but I know it would work.

      • Dave W

        I’ve been experimenting with bourbon, black pepper & orange peel (125ml bourbon, 1/4 tsp cracked pepper and 3 strips of orange peel). I think it’s still too peppery, but if I cut the infused bourbon with some straight it comes out right. Makes an interesting whisky sour or manhattan.

  • max

    so bitters could take hours instead of months?

    • davearnold

      Hi Max, I don’t think the flavor profile will be the same with a long infusion versus the quick infusion. Like anything else, I don’t think one technique replaces another, they are just different.

  • Paul Buchanan

    Hey Dave, good stuff as always. I was wondering what you may have in mind with the Cocoa Nib infusion as a cocktail. Did you experiment with that one?

    • davearnold

      Hi Paul,
      We haven’t made a cocktail yet with the nibs but I’m sure we will soon.

  • Lisa Förare Winbladh

    I love this idea (and this blog). Have anyone tried other liquids such as vinegar or cream etc?

  • johnno

    Great – and damnn I had nearly talked her into a rotovap .. thanks for the tip

  • Jonathan scott

    I’m confused on how one application of pressure, pulls liquids out, while another boost of pressure, puts liquids in.

    is it because the object has to be completely submerged under liquid in order to pull out liquid. and when doing liquid infusion if you have a small amount of liquid, its able to open up the pores for liquid to fit into like a sponge?

  • Peter

    Amazing post, thank you! Can’t wait to try some of these…

  • E. Nassar

    Holy crap. This is so damn cool and simple. I will be trying it out very soon. If this works the same way using cream, I can see the potential to make unltra-flavorful herb (mint, basil,..) ice creams without the cream base getting discolored or oxidized AND at the same time flavoring the base very quickly.

  • Randy Wedick

    If I’m not mistaken, could this be used to make instant limoncello/grapefruit cello?

    (minus the simple syrup)

  • Marit

    Any experience with the long-term stability of flavors? As it takes 5 minutes to reach full flavor, does that flavor evaporate or off-gas? If I made a large batch of infused spirits today, could I give them as gifts at the holidays?

  • maks

    Dave,

    This is beyond game-changing, and can be used for more than infusions. Make yourself a classic Negroni with this technique (build in the iSi, with orange peel, n2O, then stir with ice). Its amazing. Manhattans….whoa.

    Haven’t gotten to sours yet, but I’m not sure if there isn’t a cocktail that can’t be improved with a n2O treatment before shaking/stirring.

    I might be out of my mind, but based on the couple of cocktails I’ve made with this method, there is definitely something amazing happening in that chamber.

  • Jered Floyd

    In your recipe above, when you say “orange peel” do you really mean the peel (pith an all) or just the zest? I tried an orange-basil-clove infusion into vodka, and I extracted a lot of bitter flavors from the orange peel. Still experimenting. Great insight!

    • davearnold

      We used flavedo only. No pith.

      • David L

        I used grapefruit zest, being careful to avoid any pith, and still got a lot of bitterness. Thai basil was great though. Thanks for this technique!

  • Daniel Haran

    What proportions did you use for cocoa nibs?

  • Tom Hansen

    Hey

    I’ve been trying to infuse rum and vodka vith cocoa nibs, but the result have been diasppointing.

    Mh reulys leave me with a question: did you use raw or roasted cocoa nibs in your experiments?

    • davearnold

      Roasted, what did you use?

      • Tom Hansen

        Thanks for the answer.

        I used roasted nibs too, but i used a 500 ml IsI and I suspect I’ll have to crush the nibs a bit more than I did.

    • Bill

      I tried using about 1 oz of cocoa nibs and 200ml of white rum, infused for a minute in the ISI. Came out ok, I guess, though crushing the nibs and/or soaking longer would have probably been a good idea. I’ll see how the leftover nibs do in my coffee or on icecream.

      • davearnold

        Hey Bill: The quality of the nibs for this technique is vitally important. We had the good fortune to use Valrhona nibs on our first try. They are great. We have tried three other types (including some expensive ones), and don’t like them. Look for nibs that aren’t burnt tasting or too acidic. Also, when done the way we do it, the nibs aren’t very good after –all that remains is the bitterness.
        Here is our current nib recipe: Add 75 grams of Valrhona cocoa nibs and 500 ml vodka to a half liter whipper (changing the size might change the recipe). Charge with 8 grams N2O and swirl/shake for several seconds and charge with an additional 8 grams of N2O. Continue to agitate for a full minute and let rest an additional 20 seconds, then vent and open the whipper (here is a tip: hold a quart container over the whipper as you vent , once the whipper starts to sputter tilt the container to catch the liquid. This way you don’t lose liquid and don’t make a mess). Allow the liquor to stay in the whipper for another minute or so (until the bubbling starts to subside), strain out the nibs and pass the vodka through a coffee filter. Allow to rest several minutes before using.

  • Sean

    I’m the founder/moderator for Punk Domestics (www.punkdomestics.com), a community site for those of use obsessed with, er, interested in DIY food. It’s sort of like Tastespotting, but specific to the niche. I’d love for you to submit this to the site. Good stuff!

  • Jason McDermott

    The herb crushing probably releases polyphenoloxidase and that is why the infusion turns brown.

  • Rick

    Being able to create two-day cocktail syrups like falernum in five minutes is crazy! Just put up a post on that exact topic: http://www.kaiserpenguin.com/5-minute-falernum/

    Does the quart N02 iSi need any more charging than the pint if you’re only infusing 8-16oz of spirit?

    • davearnold

      Howdy Rick,
      Sorry it took so long to approve the comment. It got sent to spam –buried between Carrie Prejean and MILF hunting.

  • Colin

    Above, someone mentioned using a corny keg and a N2O tank. I’ve been researching a few things, and have been interested in trying something like this, and have corny kegs and N2 equipment (for Guinness). Based on the physical effect, do you think that N2 will work as well as N2O?

    • davearnold

      Hi Colin,
      Very interesting question. The lab guys use N2, but at higher pressures, to disrupt cells. At corny-keg safe pressures, like 100psi (say) I don’t know if N2 will work. If solubility isn’t actually a factor, then you don’t need the bubbles you’d get from the N2O, then N2 will work great. If that is true, part of my theory of how the technique works needs to be modified. If solubility is a factor, then N2 will work, but not as effectively at low pressures as N2O. It would be a great experiment to run, because it would help elucidate the mechanism of what is going on. I don’t have an N2 tank or I would do it myself (My LN tank is only pressurized to 20 psi).

      • Inane

        A little liquid Nitrogen in your whipper would probably generate higher than 20psi…. or possibly kill you…

  • Colin

    Ok, did a little digging last night after posting. I have a distant background in microbiology, but I never used this technique when I was in college or grad school (sonication was adequate).

    The specific effect is physical, rather than chemical. The flavorants are not being extracted by the gas so much as being released – the process effectively saturates the solution, and then is allowed to “explosively decompress” within the cells. It’s actually much more delicate than this sounds, and is rather like the bends, rather than a bomb. Still, the physical pressure of the expanding gas bubbles is the needed force. In traditional extraction, you must wait for the flavorants to passively diffuse across the membranes, or for the membranes to decompose due to some other means (osmotic pressure, etc).

    Looking it up, N2 cavitation is done at 900-2000 PSI. Not easy to work with in home or commercial kitchens, at least not inexpensively and safely. Certainly beyond corny-kegs.

    CO2 is not a good substitute, since the CO2 can remain persistently dissolved at atmospheric pressure due to conversion to carbonic acid. This slows decompression, and also allows for chemical reactions to occur potentially marring the flavor.

    So why does N2O work so well? N2O is 6.8x more soluble in water than N2 (1.5g/kg vs 0.22g/kg). Therefore, N2O will much more rapidly enter solution under pressure, and much more rapidly exit solution. This could pose a problem in a lab setting where organelles are to be retained, but not where raw extraction efficiency is desired with minimal side-effects. Also, this means that the much lower pressures needed allow N2O equipment to be much less expensive.

    I cite wikipeida for the physical properties, Parr Cell Disruption vessels for lab equipment specs, as well as my (still-in-biotech) wife for the methodology and effects.

    Now that this is a much more involved comment than I intended, I will proceed to explore this technique as far as I can ;) Thanks for discovering this and sharing!

  • MattinLosAngeles

    This is so cool. Combined this technique with agar clarification to make clear mojitos. Flavors were great–and no picking muddled mint out of your teeth. (Infuse rum with lime zest and fresh mint, add clarified lime juice, simple syrup, and soda). Final drink color is slightly lighter than champagne.

  • George C.

    I just tried this with a handful of unchopped cilantro and 3oz of Plymouth gin. The resulting liquor wasn’t a stunner to start (a little too strong of an infusion, probably due to the small amount of liquid), but in a cocktail? YAHTZEE! :)

    Thanks for this wonderful new technique.

  • Claudia

    Looking forward to trying this, just as soon as I get one of those whippers. How stable is the result? If you add it to food preparations, if heated, frozen, etc?

  • Jethro

    This is fantastic. We have a molecular cooking club out here in Seattle called Jet City Gastrophysics. We tried nitrogen cavitation with great success. You can see what we ‘infused’ up here:

    http://ericriveracooks.com/2010/08/19/jet-city-gastrophysicists-nitrogen-cavitation-and-more/

  • Scott

    Would something like Dan Lyke’s suggestion in the comments of this post http://blog.ideasinfood.com/ideas_in_food/2006/11/the_pressure_ch.html (bicycle pump + 2 liter bottle) produce the same effect or is there something magic about the N2O or the fast pressurizing?

    • davearnold

      Hi Scott,
      My feeling is that pressurization is all that is needed to get flavor into something, but bubbles are needed to get flavor out. N2O is fairly soluble in liquid, fat and alcohol and will bubble furiously when depressurized without leaving the residual flavor that CO2 will.

  • Alex Holyk

    What about making stock? On the challenging side, it would take a recalibration of mirepoix and bones, since you didn’t have much luck with carrots this time around, and when it comes to celery and onion and bones, who knows? On the side of potential perks, though, you could potentially make small batches of instant stock. Also, instead of losing all the fresh flavors over the long period of time, it would be like making stock in a pressure cooker – they had no place to go! What about clarity? Perhaps if we aren’t further cooking these vegetables, they won’t break up into the stock? Food for thought, right?

    • Alex Holyk

      Hmm, body would be another issue. I don’t imagine this would extract much gelatin.

      • davearnold

        Hi Alex,
        You are right, I don’t think you would get gelatin. The body comes from the cooking. Also, flavor is developed in the cooking.

  • Eric

    Looking at the smaller volume whippers, it occurs to me that the pressure inside would be higher, given the same charge and a smaller volume. That might make the pint and half pint harsher to the equivalent of 2 or 4 charges on the larger whipper.

  • Ian

    I’ve got a bunch of fresh juniper berries and I’ve been looking around at various recipes for homemade gin. Most of the procedures I’ve found are made by first infusing a neutral spirit with botanicals and then distilling the results.

    Have you tried (or would you consider trying) taking one of your quick infusions, maybe one of the ones that over-extracted, and then tossing it into the rotovap?

    • davearnold

      Hi Ian,
      If you had an infusion that selectively pulled the good notes out of a product and left the bad, that would be a prime candidate for re-distillation because you could then remove bitter notes, turbidity, color, sugar, etc. normally, I don’t make an infusion before I distill, I just blend or mix the products together.

  • Greg Fish

    The rotovap comments and the ~ 7x increased solubility of N2O make me wonder if you could “bump” a reduction down faster in the vap if you vented with N2O.

    • davearnold

      I bet you could, We often finish reductions by putting some air into our products to increase bubbling. N2O might be more effective. Dunno.

  • TonyC

    I’m wondering if anyone has tried this technique yet to make Amaretto or a similarly styled liqueur? I need to find a more efficient method for cracking open peach, cherry, and apricot pits. Any recommendations? Would you recommend macerated, sliced, or lightly smashed pits for best intense flavor? I can’t wait to try this.

  • Adam Elmegirab

    This is a really interesting method that I’m going to have to explore myself. I’m making all sorts of bitters, liqueurs, syrups and so on at the moment and would be intrigued to try some of my recipes using this method as opposed to macerating, for example.

    Has anyone had the chance to play around with different proofs as the base spirit? For example the same botanical recipe using 50%abv versus 75%abv.

    And what about a combination of herbs/roots/barks/spices? What’s the flavour extraction like between different groups (fresh v dried and so on)…

    • davearnold

      Hi Adam,
      I have not tested abv’s other than 40 and 0 yet.

      • Adam Elmegirab

        Cheers Dave, I’ll have to carry out some experiments myself and report back.

        I assume the flavour holds perfectly well and doesn’t dissipate?

        Would also like to compare multi flavoured infusions versus typical maceration.

        So many questions!

  • rob

    Would this metod work with oils I have seen on Ideas for food cheese infusions. It would be great for instant flavoured oils

  • jefferymickelson

    I did this with sunflower oil and fresh truffles today… Wow!

    • davearnold

      Nice! What type of truffles? Did you slice them? What was the condition of the truffles afterwords?

  • AJ Huff

    Have you tried making coffee this way?

  • Hayds

    Dave I hope you are going to bring this up in Berlin? Its great, I have learnt so much from these articles.

    Hayds

  • Carmen

    The science & outcome of this is all fine & dandy… But how much does all of this COST??? Buying a cream whipper & Nitrous Oxide don’t seem like it’s cheap $$$

    • Bill

      If you put cream in your coffee anyway, you’d be surprised how addictive having a supply of good whipped cream is, and it’ll pay for itself compared to the better canned whipped cream, plus you get to add whatever flavors you like to the cream instead of carageenan and polysorbate 80.

      The cream whipper will set you back about $30-50, and the whippets are about a buck each if you buy them at a cooking store, maybe cheaper in volume at a head shop.

  • Old Hippie

    Does anyone know if this will work to quickly extract THC from cannabis and make an alcohol tincture? It would be a godsend for medical marijuana patients.

    • davearnold

      Dunno

    • Major Variola

      OH, you might try using butane. I’ve tried this with some utility.

      Test tube full of ground up plant material, dribble
      butane liquid from a can of fuel into it. It collects
      at bottom of tube. Let it vent off; you can burn
      it too. The material at the bottom of the tube
      will have lipid-soluables concentrated.

  • J-Rad

    Infusing liquor in California is illegal due to it changing the proof of the spirit otherwise known as rectification. Any idea if this method changes the proof?

  • J-Rad

    I should add that Infusing liquor in California isn’t illegal- Selling it is. For more info: http://www.alcademics.com/2010/02/ilegal-infusions-the-word-gets-out.html

    • boring

      J-Rad, your post is useless, you have not discovered gold by reading alcademics, which copies from everywhere.

  • Michael @ Herbivoracious.com

    To think I almost missed this because I was out on a boat when you first posted it. Glad you mentioned it on the radio show. I just tried it with vodka, raspberries and thyme. Amazing flavor and color. I totally observed what other authors did, that for some reason the flavor improves greatly after a few minutes sitting open.

    • davearnold

      Howdy Michael,
      The couple minutes wait is really interesting. I haven’t had time to fully investigate why that is.

  • Michael @ Herbivoracious.com

    p.s. I could see someone opening a bar where this technique is basically the whole schtick. Piles of amazing fresh ingredients, infused a la minute.

  • Mr. Fizz

    When I first posted the chicken strips pressure infusion marination video to YouTube in June, I told Dave about the technique. I’m a retired civil engineer and am quite familiar with pressurized infusion processes since the early 70’ies when I was involved with Chromated Copper Arsenate (CCA) in which wood is placed in a vacuum for a period of time then CCA is introduced into the environment under hydrostatic pressure and the poison is infused into the wood. The process actually results in the wood members losing about 25% of their modulus of elasticity as a result of cellular rupture & lignin structural failure during the process. Allowable design loads for pressure treated lumber are correspondingly less than those for non-treated lumber. I figured I could bypass the vacuum session for meat and other food products in a similar process. I was right, as it turned out, it seems, because only a small amount of penetration is required for many flavorings and many food items. The video links are here in my mid-June letter to David (below).

    To Carmen, I would say this to her comment regarding cost of ISI whippers, etc… “Carmen, do what I did. Use plastic jugs when you can get them. For example, Coors & Miller Lite are both sold in little kegs now. They’re known as Beer In A Box. Drink the beer. Save the kegs. There’s already a 16-gram co2 cartridge dispenser attached. The size of the mouth of the keg is larger than that of 2-liter soda bottle, so you can get larger food item in it. You can even get Fizz Giz caps to fit these kegs. With them, you can introduce pressure using any gas you wanna buy, o2, air, n2o, co2, helium, nitrogen, acetylene, propane (just joking on a few of those). Check out my Fizz Giz website and google for pressure infusion marination.

  • Robert

    You should some Horseradish Vodka. Different and Tasty.

  • Major Variola

    Nitrous is a solvent, this is helping extract
    oils. One wonders if there are applications to
    cannabis cooking (where typically butter
    lipids are the solvent).

    You might experiment with butane
    as a gas-solvent too. It will boil
    off cleanly. In fact, you can light the gas
    as it escapes for visual effect. (It comes off
    slowly if its absorbed onto plant material
    at the bottom of a narrow tube.)
    Butane is readily available as fuel for
    small apt cookers.

  • Seattle Jon

    Has anyone tried this product. It’s aluminum instead of steel (which they claim is an advantage) and is less expensive.

    Any thoughts would be appreciated!

    http://www.webstaurantstore.com/whip-it-sv-plus-21-1-liter-cream-whipper-dispenser-silver/407SVPLUS21%20SILVER.html

  • Shanti N

    Could this be used to make herbal tinctures at a faster rate or would the NO2 destroy the medicinal molecules?
    Any ideas would be appreciated

    • davearnold

      Hello Shanti N,
      I don’t think the N2O will affect the properties of the herbs too much (I could be wrong, but I don’t think so), but the rapid infusion may not pull out the compounds you are interested in as much as the old fashioned way (of course it could be better). Every compound has different brewing kinetics based on the way it is infused. The balance of flavor and medicinal molecules is most likely different in long infused and quick infused products. To figure out which technique is better for your needs would require a lab that could analyze both tinctures for the presence of the compounds of interest to you.

  • Noah

    Could you infuse fruit flavored into carbonated beer? What effect would the N20 have on carbonated products, if anything at all?

    • davearnold

      If you were doing beer I’d use CO2 instead of N2O. It should work. You might need to recarbonate after infusion because you’ll lose a lot of CO2 in the venting phase (if your beer is warm enough).

      • Mr. Fizz

        I agree. If you have your own bulk co2 tank (as more and more beer connoisseurs seem to), you can perhaps fabricate a stainless steel nozzle tip modeled around the Fizz Giz co2 dispenser tip and attach it to a hand held squeeze handle air blower. A hose coming off your co2 bottle’s regulator feeds the squeeze handle blower which mates perfectly with Fizz Giz valve caps. See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lRgfsa8zOio for a demonstration.

      • Queso

        As Colin posted above, C02 isn’t a suitable substitute. When I first tried this technique, I used C02 cartridges because I was out of N20. The result of my attempt to infuse vodka with thyme using C02 was carbonated vodka with no thyme flavor. Colin’s theory is that C02 does not provide the same effect because it remains in solution once pressure is released.

  • Zycho Zyborg

    “I specialize in a very specific type of marinating. It’s called INFUSION. We bring a substance into that siphon and they fill it with their tastes.” – “Then you break in and steal it”
    (BUUUUUUURRRRRRRR http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d2yD4yDsiP4 ).”
    :D

    to be found here: http://zychozyborg.com/2010/09/marinieren-und-extrahieren-in-60-sekunden/

  • hamish

    thanks so much for posting this technique! i infuse liquors but i’m also a preserve maker, and have been experimenting with ways to get herbal flavors into jams and infused fruits (without leaving herbs in them, which can taste grassy and/or bitter over time). this should work well.

    i’m going to buy an iSi to start playing around. do you know if and how the size of the whipper (1 pint versus 1 quart) should affect the technique? would 8oz of liquid only require 1 charger in both the pint and quart size? i guess i’m wondering if the amount of pressure needed is affected just by the amount of liquid, the volume of the container, or both. it seems like both would come into play, so perhaps it’s just figuring out how much?

    much thanks.

    • davearnold

      My feeling is, smaller amounts work best in smaller whippers. I think the pressure will be higher. A small whipper might get away with 1 charger, whereas a big one might take 2.

      • Nick

        Dave,

        Speaking of pressure, I have two related thoughts after mucking about with this stuff.

        First, higher density ingredients require higher pressure to extract the same level of flavour. For example, orange rind seems to react better to higher pressures than mint.

        Second, greater surface area of the ingredients give more flavour, all else being equal.

        These are based on some fairly subjective tests. I don’t have a way to measure pressure – I’m inferring based on number of isi charges and the amount of airspace in the whipper. Any thoughts?

        Nick

  • BuzzChronicBC

    thats a good idea, but couldn’t i pour rum over a ounce of BC Bud and use that method and make a awesome marijuana tincture

    thanks for the idea

  • Andrew

    Is the N2O cartridge spent after use? Can you do multiple infusions from one cartridge or is it not possible to control how much N2O is released? I have never used a whipper before (despite my desperate pleas to the coffee manager to buy one). $1 per infusion would start to add up fast, especially during the first week of experimenting.

  • jimbo

    i was wondering it any one has considered different mixtures of gases, or is nitrous-oxide the best mixture to get the results desired. the last thought i will leave you with is can you mix your own gas by using gas welding regulators with a tire inflation nozzle. you could then use one of those portable air tanks made out of aluminum they sell to inflate car tires as the infusing chamber good for atleast 100psi plus.

    • davearnold

      Hi Jimbo,
      I don’t use CO2 because of the residual flavor impact. I do mix CO2 and N2O, but I use a modified Smith gas mixer.

  • Cichawoda

    This is very exiting. I’ve been doing traditional, Nalewka style, vodka infusions for many years now so this really peaked my interest. I’ve tried out this system now and made a batch of six vodka and one rye whiskey infusion. Even did one with jelly beans — fun stuff. It’s all written up on ilikethis.com

    • Mr. Fizz

      After looking at ILikeThis.com, it is apparent you have experimented a lot with pressure infusions – especially vodka based. I have not. But I’ve found myself wondering about the classic vodka & tonic. Could you tell me if tonic (basically carbonated water with a bit of citrus & quinine) is crucial to the mix – or would most drinkers not notice if simple seltzer water was used?

      I’m asking because I think some people prefer the mix on the dry side (more liquor – less tonic). That being the case, might it help to carbonate the liquor itself, as less carbonated tonic would mean a less carbonated drink. BTW, have you carbonated vodka to achieve any related effect? How did you do it? And last, could a Fizz Giz achieve a desired result?

  • Matt Garvey

    Hey, sorry I know this post is a touch old now, but I just recently came upon this utterly fantastic blog and had a question to ask that I didn’t find previously in any of the comments. Unfortunately I don’t own an iSi (nor do I currently have the money to purchase one) or I would have tested it myself.

    My question is what would happen if you flambe’d with a newly infused liquor. If one say infused grand marnier with orange rind and then made a classic crepe suzette, would it simply be the alcohol being burned off, and if so would that extra flavor remain or diminish? I don’t know nearly enough about the physical/chemical reactions occuring during flambe itself to theorize.

    If any of you fine minded people can lend some insight I’d be very appreciative.

    • davearnold

      Interesting question Matt. I’m traveling for the next couple of weeks but I’ll test it when I get a chance –unless someone else tests it first.

    • Nick

      Matt,

      My guess (mostly untested) is that you would lose a lot of orange flavour as well. Most of the orange flavour comes from volatile oils in the rind, which burn just as well as alcohol.

      This is why I hate the old bartenders trick of flaming orange rind over your drink. It seems to result in less orange flavour without the flame adding anything beyond some theatrics.

      Nick

  • Rusty Shackleford

    Hey Dave, kinda urgent. I just bought some dry ice as per the first episode of CI radio. I told them what I wanted to use it for and was cautioned about not chilling a drink because it’ll get too cold and all this other nonsense. They ended up giving me all this shitty shaved dry ice that doesn’t get very cold or stay at the bottom of the pitcher. What should I do? Go cry that my supplier ruined my bragged about home distilled g&t with clarified lime juice?

  • Eddie Shepherd

    I’ve had a lot of fun and some great results with this technique and recently started using it to infuse smoke into spirits. It seems to work really well, for darker spirits in particular (flavor-wise).
    I wander if anyone else has tried this or if its a new application?
    I’m still playing with this but think it could have alot of potential, I’d love to know what you think.
    I used this smoke infused spirits technique to in a chocolate torte you can see here –
    http://www.veggiechef.co.uk/Blog/files/Smoked_torte.html
    and I put the basic technique I used here –
    http://www.veggiechef.co.uk/Blog/files/Technique.html
    I have some other ideas about applications of this in cooking but it would be great to hear any feed back you have. And thanks for the fantastic and fascinating work your doing and sharing your genius with the rest of us.

  • BigBen

    Extracting flavorings from citrus zest peels for later use:
    1) would soaking them first, help rid of the bitterness ?( putting aside the time wait factor understood)/ or possibly blanching,
    2) If so, would increasing holding time from one minute process to more e.g.(1.5-2mins++) yield more flavorings, or beyond 1 minute, all usefull flavors have already been depleted?
    3) using maximum amount of peels in filling up the whipper air space volume, would that help increasing the pressure within, so as to do away with one single N2 O cartridge only?
    4) Is there a limit to the amount of zest one Cartridge can extract?
    5) Is there a commercial/ or makeshift widget that can substitute for the manual swirling/shaking? Thanks for these loaded questions, and regards to Nils.

    • davearnold

      I think the longer you infuse, the more different products are extracted. I know people doing 5-10 minutes on coffee for example. I think it all depends on the product

    • davearnold

      I think the amount of infusion has to do with the pressure involved, If you can get a high enough pressure (and enough absorbed N2O) out of 1 cartridge it should work fine. You could definitely make a more automated process. In fact I know somebody who is working on that problem right now.

  • Ian McCarthy

    Perhaps an answer to the tasting-better-after-having-sat-a-few-minutes question: Besides bartending I do some coffee roasting. Freshly roasted coffee gives of much gas, Nitrogen amongst other things. Coffee less than 24 hours out of a roaster tastes really flat, (we call it “roaster-shock”). If I remember correctly, this has something to do with all the gases. All uber-fresh coffee tastes really similar side-by-side. Give it time to de-gas, and the flavors start to pop. Perhaps your uber-fresh infusions are just a bit gassy?

  • Judiaann Woo

    Wow! Love all this great discussion.

    I’m the culinary director for iSi. Yes, I work for the company but I have to say we really do make the highest quality whippers and chargers on the market. If you don’t want to take my word for it, ask Grant Achatz, ask Thomas Keller, ask José Andres, ask Dave Chang, ask any serious chef.

    In the photos, Dave is using an iSi Gourmet Whip (our all-purpose pro whipper). It’s stainless steel and can be used for both hot and cold applications. We make a newer version called the Gourmet Whip PLUS which has some addition bells and whistles. I say go with a pro model if you’re serious about getting consistent results. As for the N20 gas chargers, ours (sold under the brand name iSi Cream Chargers) delivers 8 grams of the purest N20 gas available. Our chargers have a lifetime guarantee and never expire. They can also be recycled. There’s a reason why ours cost a little more than the competition. But hey, you’re worth it. Your infusions are worth it.

    Keep up the cool experiments! If anyone would like to contact me directly, my email is jwoo@isinorthamerica.com. Cheers!

  • Kenji Lopez-Alt

    This is really interesting stuff! I can’t believe I missed this post back n August. Will have to try Alex’s suggestion of infusing oils soon. Thanks Dave!

  • chuck

    I wonder if you can use a cheap ultrasonic jewelry cleaner to get the same effect? They work via cavitation (according to some random webpage I read, anyway:) ).

    • davearnold

      Dunno,
      They do cavitate (that’s how they work), but it isn’t the same effect as N20, which involves pressurized saturation and bubbling with depressurization. Might also work however. I have one i can try but its volume is a bit large.

      • Chuck

        Ah, thanks! I noticed an ad for a cheap little one as I was throwing away some random catalog that was clogging the mailbox, and it got me wondering. Can you use them for quick emulsions? I don’t really know how they work.

  • Josh

    I saw some mention of nitrogen being used by the bio guys. I mentioned this process to a coworker with a substantial brewing and kegging setup, and he was curious if the process would work as well with plain nitrogen as it apparently does with nitrous?
    Seems like it might be an easier route if you wanted to do this in bulk.

    • davearnold

      Howdy Josh,
      A lot of people have compared the process to Nitrogen cavitation. I don’t think they are the same thing exactly. N2 cavitation (if I’m not mistaken) occurs at relatively high pressures. N2O infusion occurs at relatively low pressures because of the high solubility of N20 in liquid (as opposed to N2).

  • Michael @ Herbivoracious

    Here is another drink I just made using this technique: Banana-star anise infused rum, mixed with rosewater, agave, seltzer.

  • Quentin

    Hi there,

    Thank you very much for that new technics, it’s great I love it!!! I was wandering if it worked with meat? I am quiete worried about the toxicity of the result (after fresh/cooked meat was in contact with alcohol). Do you heard anyone running that experience before?

    Thank you very much for your time.

    Quentin

    • davearnold

      Hi Quentin,
      Mr. Fizz uses N20 to inject marinades into meat, and I know N2O can tenderize meat (by mechanical expansion), but I haven’t tries making meat based booze that way.

  • Scott

    I’m a huge fan of your ISI infusion technique. Over Thanksgiving, I told my dad (a physicist) about it and he was skeptical so I set up a blind test for us. We did 8 star anise in 2 oz vodka for 2 min in the ISI (1 N2O charge in a 1/2 liter ISI) vs 2 min just sitting in a cup, and the same test with a small handful of fresh whole sage leaves.

    I assumed it would be night and day between ISI and plain but it was really subtle, which is to say that 2 minutes in a cup was surprisingly strong. We eventually preferred the ISI but it was not a big difference with either the star anise or the sage, and the difference was less about intensity of flavor and more about subtle notes and so on.

    Have you tried the blind test? Is it possible the ISI isn’t doing as much as we’d thought?

    • davearnold

      I have done blind tastings. The anise one is interesting because it does, in fact, get quite strong with normal soaking –you are quite right.

  • Dave

    Making that dreaded Holiday Fruitcake Special!
    I took a very dense Fruitcake and cut it into columns that fit in the cream whiper. being very careful not to break it. I filled the bottle with rum until the cake was covered. I charged it for about 10 minutes, carefully poured off the rum and out slid the cake. I placed it on a paper towel then wrapped it in plastic wrap. The rum I strained through a coffee maker screen. I ended up with a rum fruitcake and some great spiced rum!

  • Christian Holmes

    Would I be able to do this with a SodaStream?

    I assume it would be similar, just putting the liquid and solids in the SodaStream bottle and making sure to vent it plenty before taking the bottle of the nozzle.

    • davearnold

      I bet it’d work, but you’ll have a residual taste presence from the CO2

  • donna

    as a medical marijuana patient, i would like to know if this would work on marijuana also. normally you have to soak marijuana in alcohol for a minimum of a month to get the full effects.

    • davearnold

      I don’t know Donna. It’d be worth a shot. I hope someone lets us know the results.

  • Johnnydsi

    So does anyone know if you can infuse smoke to a liquid/ liquor….using a smoke gun????

  • Pho… Salad | Eat. Drink. Experience. Blog.

    […] also made a Pho-spiced vodka to drink with the salad. I used the iSi pressure infusion technique with Tito’s Vodka, Lemongrass, Cilanro, Thai Basil, Ginger, Jalepeno, Clove, Star Anise, […]

  • Make Custom Infused Liquor in Minutes | Mademan.com

    […] for a week, you can be having smoky, delicious shots in just minutes. Check out the site Cooking Issues for the full […]

  • andrew

    Great article, can’t wait to try this. Is it possible to use this technique with the iSi Soda Siphon? Are the nitrogen cartridges compatible?

    • davearnold

      Hello Andrew,
      It will work, just turn the bottle upside-down when you vent or remove the siphon tube.

  • BrianneMichelle

    Hi Dave!
    What about infusing high water content fruits? I tried infusing cucumber slices with jalapeno and watermelon balls with basil, and although the flavors were absorbed it wasn’t as strong as I had hoped.
    Do you think it would work better to soak the cucumber and melon in water first or even olive oil to increase liquid retention?

    • davearnold

      Howdy BrianneMichelle,
      I find the N2O infusion to work best at flavoring liquids as opposed to solids. For instance, I have tried using the technique to pressure infuse gin into cucumbers but find it doesn’t work nearly as well as my old fashioned technique of vacuum infusion. Now, if I wanted to make cucumber flavored gin, ISI infusion would work fine (use thin slices). With N2O, you pressurize in and boil out. With vacuum you suck out air and pressurize in (without having to boil it back out). If I use the vacuum to flavor liquids, I have to suck a second vacuum to boil the liquids back out again. Does that make sense?

  • Guy MovingOn

    I have been trying this with beurre noisette (+ milk solids), wild bay leaves, and rosemary into Gin, and just now I tried kaffir lime leaves, crushed juniper berries, and basil into Vodka.

    Do you think this process changes the alcohol content? I’ve noticed the infused liquor tastes a lot less alcoholic after… do you think that when the canister is vented, a lot of ethanol is removed too?

    • davearnold

      Interesting question Guy,
      Some ethanol is absorbed into the product you are infusing, but whether you lose a lot through venting I hadn’t thought about. Next time I do an infusion when I have my refractometer handy I’ll check.

  • Marc P

    Is it possible to evaporate the alcohol post-infusion without killing the flavors?

    I mean, I’m sure it’s possible but I wouldn’t be sure how to isolate the cocoa flavor, (“The Nibness”) for example, from the alcohol without either spending a lot of money or making it unfit for consumption.

    If the BP of the EtOH is lower, wouldn’t simple or fractional distillation get the job done? And if you were to take it this far, would it still be a good idea to use the infusion technique to leave the bitterness in the nibs, or is there a better way?

    • davearnold

      I think you’d lose a lot of flavor if you were to boil off the EtOH. You could heat and flame it, but that would only reduce, not eleminate, the EtOH. You could try extraction using butane then letting the butane evaporate (I haven’t had good luck with this). I wonder what a straight water infusion would taste like –or oil?

  • hmcd

    Hi there,

    Just came across this and am very excited to try it.

    I live in northern California. Last fall during the mushroom season, I infused vodka with candy cap mushrooms and came up with an incredible drink, tasting of the trademark maple-syrup flavor that candy caps are famous for.

    Interestingly, I found that when I soaked the (dried) mushrooms in vodka for one day, it tasted wonderful. Longer than that, however, and the mushroom flavors started to come out, and it smelled and tasted slightly manky.

    I would assume, if I was using this technique, given the delicacy of the flavor, that I should probably go for a shorter time as well, wouldn’t you think? Perhaps start with 15 seconds and go from there.

    I can’t recommend this infusion highly enough, it’s very odd and extraordinarily special.

    The other question I have is if anyone has tried this for cosmetic applications, like infusing oils/waxes for lotions or soaps? I’m assuming it is not just taste that comes out with the N2O, but fragrance as well.

    Thanks for a great post, and sorry it took me so long to find it!

    • davearnold

      Sorry it has taken so long to reply Heather,
      I would start with 1-1.5 minutes and work up or down from there. Let me know how it works.

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  • Michael

    Re: the cocoa nibs infusion, how many nibs did you use with how many mls of liquid? And how many N2O chargers?
    Would the quality of the nibs used have a big effect on the final taste?
    In terms of texture, after leaving it sit for a day or two could you tell the infusion had taken place? Or was it in harmony?

    • davearnold

      Hello Michael,
      I have to go look up the recipe. We always used 500 ml of liquor and two chargers for 2 minutes. I can’t remember how many grams of nibs. Not a small amount –either 32 or 64 grams. The quality of the nibs makes a huge difference. Crappy nibs make a terrible product. Valrhona is my favorite for that recipe. It is better after 15 minutes and even better the next day.

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  • Tim

    Had an interesting result with this last night doing a cucumber, mint gin. There was a pronounced visual effect on the cucumber which I had not observed with any other ingredients. The texture remained the same, but there was almost no flavor left in the cucumber.

    Check it out: http://bit.ly/Kso9pE

  • pascere

    Hey Dave, I wonder if you have tried high grade teas with it. Something like jasmine silver needle or a great oolong. I have been doing loads of trials on cold infusions but wander if anyone has seen any improvement with this pressurized techniques. What do you think?
    thanks by

    • davearnold

      I’ve done really nice teas, both into water and liquor. It works well. Just have to see if you like the way it pulls out flavor vs a longer steep at a lower pressure.