Rapid Infusions…or time’s a wastin’

Peruse the aisles of any specialty foods store, a gourmet retailer like Williams-Sonoma or Sur La Table, or even a Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s and you’ll discover a plethora of fancy pants sounding infused oils, vinegar, syrups, teas, coffees, liquors, etc., that not surprisingly also carry an equally fancy pants price tag. You’re intrigued by the brightly colored blood orange-fennel olive oil, but at $27 for 11.5 oz. it’s giving you sticker shock. And that pretty pink 750ml bottle of rhubarb-ginger gin liqueur with the $30+ price tag might be enough to quell your passion for impulse buying.

While traditional methods of flavor infusion are fairly simple, it does take a fair amount of time (and patience) to allow the ingredients to steep and develop flavor–often over the course of several weeks, which is why many consumers opt to plunk down $30 per bottle for a quality infused product. This is also one of the reasons why chefs and bartenders have been experimenting with rapid infusions in cream dispensers behind the scenes for years. The advent of YouTube and explosion of viral DIY instructional videos in recent years on the subject introduced many more professionals and amateur enthusiasts alike to the wonders of rapid infusion.

A premium quality Whip-It! stainless steel dispenser, N2O chargers, and a bit of culinary inspiration is all you need to join in on the fun—for a fraction of the cost of premade artisan products and fraction of the time of traditionally made infusions. Depending on what you are infusing, be it oil, vinegar, syrup or spirits, the infusion ratio of flavoring agent to liquid can vary from 5%-15% by weight. A good general rule to follow is infuse cool to room temperature liquids and vent the gas or cavitate quickly for optimum flavor extraction. Dave Arnold, author of Liquid Intelligence, explains:

“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.”

Fresh ingredients like citrus, berries, herbs, and vegetables are best suited for infusions given their water content and pliable cell structure. However, that is not to say you can’t infuse “dry” ingredients such as loose tea leaves or charred wood chips. At an average cost of .50 per Whip-It! N2O charger, it’s a far more cost-effective way to expand your culinary repertoire by experimenting with quality seasonal and/or unusual ingredients.

Here are some tasty infusions to try.

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Grapefruit-Tarragon Olive Oil

  • 12 oz. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 c. grapefruit peel (pith removed)
  • 3 sprigs fresh tarragon
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1 Whip-It! N2O charger
  1. Place the peel, tarragon, and shallot inside a .5 ltr Whip-It! stainless steel dispenser bottle. Pour in the oil.
  2. Swirl the contents around for 10 seconds, then screw on the head fitted with a plain tip.
  3. Screw on charger and swirl contents around for another 10 seconds. Let the contents settle in the dispenser for about 10 mins.
  4. Quickly vent the gas completely from the dispenser, then unscrew the head. Strain out solids through a cheesecloth-lined strainer. Transfer the infused oil into a clean dry glass bottle or mason jar.

Blackberry-Thyme Vinegar

  • 12 oz. white wine vinegar
  • 2/3 c. fresh blackberries, 1/2’d
  • 2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 strips lemon peel (pith removed)
  • 1 Whip-It! N2O charger
  1. Place the blackberries, thyme and lemon peel inside a .5 ltr Whip-It! stainless steel dispenser bottle. Pour in the vinegar.
  2. Swirl the contents around for 10 seconds, then screw on the head fitted with a plain tip.
  3. Screw on thecharger and swirl contents around for another 10 seconds. Let the contents settle in the dispenser for about 10 mins.
  4. Quickly vent the gas completely from the dispenser, then unscrew the head. Strain out solids through a cheesecloth-lined strainer. Transfer the infused liquid into a clean dry glass bottle or mason jar.
  5. Refrigerate up to 2 weeks.

Rosemary-Fig Balsamic

  • 10 oz. balsamic vinegar
  • 3/4 c. fresh figs, sliced
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1 t. black peppercorns
  • 1 Whip-It! N2O charger
  1. Place the figs, rosemary, and peppercorns inside a .5 ltr Whip-It! stainless steel dispenser bottle. Pour in the vinegar.
  2. Swirl the contents around for 10 seconds, then screw on the head fitted with a plain tip.
  3. Screw on charger and swirl contents around for another 10 seconds. Let the contents settle in the dispenser for about 10 mins.
  4. Quickly vent the gas completely from the dispenser, then unscrew the head. Strain out solids through a cheesecloth-lined strainer. Transfer the infused liquid into a clean dry glass bottle or mason jar.
  5. Refrigerate up to 2 weeks.

Chimichurri Vinegar

  • 12 oz. cider vinegar
  • 2 sprigs fresh oregano
  • 1/2 c. fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 c. fresh parsley leaves
  • 2 strips lemon peel (pith removed)
  • 1 small red chili, seeds removed, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 Whip-It! N2O charger
  1. Place the herbs, lemon peel, chili, and garlic inside a .5 ltr Whip-It! stainless steel dispenser bottle. Pour in the vinegar.
  2. Swirl the contents around for 10 seconds, then screw on the head fitted with a plain tip.
  3. Screw on charger and swirl contents around for another 10 seconds. Let the contents settle in the dispenser for about 10 mins.
  4. Quickly vent the gas completely from the dispenser, then unscrew the head. Strain out solids through a cheesecloth-lined strainer. Transfer the infused liquid into a clean dry glass bottle or mason jar.
  5. Refrigerate up to 2 weeks.

Vanilla Bean Irish Whiskey

  • 2 c. Irish Whiskey (e.g. Jameson)
  • 3 vanilla pods, split & scraped
  • 1 Whip-It! N2O charger
*save and air dry the pods to use later for vanilla sugar
  1. Place the vanilla pods and scraped “caviar” into a .5 ltr Whip-It! stainless steel dispenser. Pour in the whiskey.
  2. Swirl the contents around for 10 seconds, then screw on the head fitted with a plain tip.
  3. Screw on charger and swirl contents around for another 10 seconds. Let the contents settle in the dispenser for about 10 mins.
  4. Quickly vent the gas completely from the dispenser, then unscrew the head. Strain out pods* through a fine strainer.
  5. Transfer the infused whiskey into a clean dry glass bottle or mason jar. Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

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