24 June 2011

Sous Vide / Flash Cooking

Originally water baths were created by an alchemist and named Bain Marie’s after their inventor Maria the Jewess. Over the years their purpose and function has not really changed, the basic premise being a slow controlled rise in temperature using boiling water.

One of the biggest advantages we have, in modern water baths is that we are able to regulate the temperature to a specific degree. This allows chef and bartenders to ensure that delicate volatiles such as flowers are not destroyed during the cooking process as many are destroyed when their temperature rises above 74c.

With the addition of a vacuum machine we then have the ability to quickly, efficiently, and consistently infuse spirits, make flavoured sugars, and, perhaps, less well known “flash fusing” drinks this way.

Obviously technically speaking you’re not actually “aging” a cocktail. What you are doing is creating a flavour profile similar to that of an aged drink, minus the woody flavour it is often accompanied by adding to a barrel (which we think is a bit of overkill, subtlety is key.)

For instance we have been experimenting for several years, in flash fusing Negroni’s. The result is a very interesting and complex drink where the bridges between flavours are so merged they almost become one. The drink also is richer, more refined, has more depth and a longer finish to it.

Now we know that not everyone has a bain marie and a vacuum machine in their front room, so there are alternatives that are actually very simple and provide a similar affect.

To re-create, or put more simply, build, a Bain Marie all you need is 2 saucepans, one smaller than the other. Pour water into the larger and place on a hob the place the smaller within the larger one, also with water and there you go. You can regulate and monitor the temperature using a thermometer to make sure the temperature is constant.

To re-create a vacuum bag there are a couple of options. Either buy a cheap sealing unit which do the job ok or if you are feeling adventurous you can try sucking the air out of a bag using a straw, with a rubber band around the top of the bag. It may sound silly but it will actually get the job done very well.

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