30 November 2011
The video is another gem to come out of the Modernist Cuisine camp and is shot at 6200 FPS.
The idea of carbonating a spirit is something I can’t say I have seen being used behind bars too much. Maybe the process seems overly complex or not practical for service. Maybe the idea just doesn’t appeal to people. However I sent a mail to Kevin Liu over at Why Cook asking if he had any info on the matter……… his response and a few additions from myself are below.
Giles asked me a few weeks ago what I thought about carbonating hard liquor. I’d heard of the technique previously via the Cooking Issues Radio Show, but I hadn’t played with it and didn’t really understand why anyone would want to try it. After messing around for a few hours this past weekend, I can definitively pronounce: carbonating liquor is easy and definitely worth doing.
First, it’s worth understanding some things about carbonation.
- It seems to get you drunk faster. Something about the carbon dioxide increases ABV more rapidly than if you drank vodka alone. This only happens in some people, however.
- When you carbonate something, you are literally dissolving the gas CO2 in a liquid. That CO2 has no reason to come out of solution unless it’s disturbed or if there happens to be a nucleation site available.
- On that note, although people tend to describe a “tingly” sensation related to carbonated beverages, in fact it’s more likely we are able to taste the CO2 even if it stays in solution. Scientists think we are somehow detecting the carbonic acid that CO2 forms when it’s dissolved in water, probably with the same taste buds that are responsible for sourness.
- Don’t believe me? It turns out you can taste carbon dioxide even in a pressure chamber, when the bumbles can’t come out.
- When CO2 does come out of solution, it seems to physically irritate our taste buds, so spicy things may taste spicier. At least one study I dug up, however, seems to indicate that
- Well, maybe not that weird. Another study showed that capsaicin and carbonated water both create sensations of burning, stinging, and tingling, though capsaicin was much stronger than carbonated water. So what was probably going on in the first study was that the capsaicin was so strong, carbonated water seemed weak in comparison. Mmm, weaksauce.
What does all this mean? We’ve written before about how alcohol may trigger nerves that are also set off by capsaicin. It seems like we must enjoy some facet of the irritation we get from each of these ingredients or some combination of all of them. I’d love to know the why’s and how’s of all this, but in the meantime, it’s time to do some observational experiments…
How to Carbonate Vodka
Carbonating hard alcohol is very easy. The basic rules, as dictated by Dave Arnold are:
- get the alcohol cold
- clarify as much as possible
- remove air
- as many rounds of carbonation as possible.
You see, ethanol doesn’t dissolve CO2 as effectively as water does, so the colder the product, the better. Clarification removes potential nucleation sites. With nicely distilled vodka, which is what I used, clarification isn’t an issue. Removing air helps to prevent foaming and can be done either by letting the product sit or by sucking a vacuum on it.
The two easiest ways to carbonate at home are either using an ISI cream whipper with CO2 canisters or a modified SodaStream home carbonation system. This is pretty simple, so here are the pictures showing you how to do it.
Here are a few lessons learned:
- Toss the vodka in the freezer for a while. I got mine down to 20F.
- It will take a lot longer to carbonate such a small amount of liquid than with a full bottle. Be prepared to use a lot of gas.
- A weird cloud develops above the vodka. It’s cool.
- Use immediately if possible; the gas doesn’t stay dissolved very well.
What Should we Use it For?
The vodka tasted sweeter and less alcoholic than I remembered a shot tasting, though one test probably wasn’t enough to draw any conclusions from. The texture was definitely fun, more of a velvety sensation than traditional bubbles like would be found in soda. The potential of this is two-fold. You can either simply add a flavoured liqeur to the spirit and you instantly have a fizzy shot that doesn’t actually require a dilution like soda or lemonade, but also you could simply take a pre flavoured vodka and charge it, creating a whole new dimension to the drink.
The most obvious application I can think of for this technique would be traditional highballs served up, without the seltzer water component. Imagine a gin and tonic that used only gin, lime, and quinine. What a kick in the pants that would be. This would also be a convenient way to present service. For example, if you wanted to premix and prechill a drink, then carbonate a whole bottle of it and pour straight from the bottle. The possibilities are endless, all you’d need is empy bottles with a screw cap and ideas on what to fill them with. The idea of being able to create your own fizzy soft drinks, or long fizzy cocktails may indeed take a bit of prep but the results are bespoke and individual to your own tastes/bar
For instance - still water, sugar, and lemon to create Vodka lemonade, or a long sparkling drink that used charged white wine instead of champagne.
On the topic of which……..how useful would it be to get that fizz back in a bottle of flat champagne or prosecco. Potentially not the best practice but useful for maybe staff drinks or parties at home…..!
What would you do with this technique?
23 November 2011
The Cooking Lab is part of only a few "elite" kitchens that can boast to be alot more than just a kitchen. During the making of the book Modernist Cuisine there was up to 30 people working at any one time, ranging from chefs to video editors.
Written by and in collaboration with Jamie Baxter. Jamie was a master distiller at Chase Distillery where he was responsible for designing, installing, commissioning, running and then developing products. He now works as a consultant, working around the UK and South America aiding in start up small scale artisan distilleries.
We are in the middle of a particularly English revolution. It’s very small, and rather quiet, but believe me, it is happening. Companies like Chase, English Whisky Co and Sipsmith led the way. Others such as Sacred, Adnams, Charles Martell and Ludlow have followed and there are others coming over the hill. I am talking about a wave of smaller-scale, artisan distilleries all pushing to see what has happened in America also happen over here. It’s almost the reverse of what happened with beer where the American craft brewers followed the rise of British micro-breweries.
I have been fortunate enough to be involved with several new distillery projects to a greater or lesser degree. Although there is huge variety in the products proposed, all these projects have a traditional pot still at the heart of them. The design involves a little thought:
It is best to buy the biggest pot that can be afforded and that will fit in the space available. Oddly a 450 litre still does not cost much more than a 300 litre one, and the extra capacity will always be useful. That said, all the other ancillary equipment will need to be scaled up accordingly. Similarly, it is important to consider the work patterns. With a small still, many runs can be made in one day, but a lot of time is spent waiting for the still to warm up each time and energy costs are higher. A bigger pot means that fewer runs are required. However, there comes a point where the entire run cannot be done in a single shift.
Traditionally copper was used because it has good heat transfer properties, but we now know that it also acts as a catalyst to certain reactions so removing sulphates and giving a smoother spirit. Stainless steel is cheaper and easier to maintain, and there are wooden ones still knocking around (El Dorado anyone?). Even glass is used, particularly for gin where neutral alcohol is usually bought in. But for the artisan distiller the only way is copper.
You will have seen the wonderful whisky stills with their tall, conical tops, and maybe an Armagnac still with an olive shaped contraption mounted on the pot. Others of you will have seen a column with several bubble plates. These are all different methods for increasing the amount of condensation of the alcohol vapour and is called reflux. Put simply, the more reflux, the purer, stronger and smoother the spirit becomes. A huge amount of reflux is needed to get the spirit to 96% ABV (the EU required purity for vodka production) and less is needed for spirits such as whisky, rum, brandies etc which will subsequently be barrel-aged to smooth the spirit out. Designing the amount of reflux is very much about getting a balance between purity and flavour.
This is dictated by the location. Mains gas is cheapest, but if you’re not on the mains then oil or LPG is a good alternative. Charles Martell uses a wood-fired boiler for his Stinking Bishop cheese plant, so it was a natural choice to design a wood-fired still as he has all the equipment needed to handle 20 tonne deliveries of logs. Electrically heating a still is perhaps easiest in a small space, but is expensive to run.
Most stills nowadays are heated indirectly using steam raised using one of the fuels above. The simplest and cheapest method of transferring this heat into the still is to run the steam through a coil in the belly of the pot. An alternative method is to run the steam into a jacket surrounding the bottom part of the pot. Although this is more expensive to make, it has the advantage that because it has a bigger surface area, and because it gives a smoother interior to the pot, particulate material can be put in the still without the risk of burning eg cider brandy (when the pot is filled with cider) can be heated easily with a steam coil, but if apple brandy is to be distilled (where the whole fermented mash including the apple bits go in the pot) then a jacket is better because lower steam pressure (and therefore temperature) can be used so reducing the risk of particulate material burning, and it is easier to clean without a coil getting in the way.
Direct heat, whereby naked flames heat the bottom of the pot, is still used by Glenfiddich and Glenfarclas in Scotland. Nolet, home of Ketel One, do the same as do many grappa, rum and cognac distillers. I must admit that naked flames in an area where highly flammable vapour might be around gives me the heebie-geebies.
This is the term for what the still is filled with initially. It might be thin and with few particles like cider, wine or beer, or it might be thick and gloopy or full of chunks of fermented fruit and vegetables. The former is easy to handle, the latter needs a bit of care. Perhaps a stirrer or rummager might need to be built in. Certainly a larger outlet will be required to empty it. Flavoured spirits might require easy access into the pot to put in and remove sprigs of wormwood (mmm… absinthe), orange peel, and other larger flavouring material.
One of the biggest problems faced by many distilleries is what to do with the stillage. This is what is left in the still after the alcohol has been distilled off. Depending on the spirit being produced, this might be fed to animals or sprayed on fields as irrigation where there is not much nutritional content left. Whichever way the distiller gets rid of waste, he needs to ensure that that it is done with all the appropriate licences and permissions, and that it is done at no cost.
I find all stills fascinating, and most of them beautiful. The artisan distiller should remember that tourism offers a good additional revenue stream. Over 1.3 million people visited Scottish distilleries last year spending nearly £18 each. Tap into that market. Even if you cannot receive visitors, make the distillery look nice and it will give you a nice warm feeling every morning.
Every business plan shows that the distillery will be a success, otherwise the project will not get off the ground, so plan for success and make sure that you can expand. Similarly, every business plan is wrong. Things happen and so it is wise to build in as much flexibility as possible. The artisan distiller may set out to make vodka from parsnips, but find a big demand for cherry brandy after a glut in the orchard.
Of-course the list above is not exhaustive, and there is far more to consider than just the still. The growing of the ingredients is becoming more common with distilling often being considered as a farm diversification. Mashing, fermentation, blending, storage, ageing, bottling and distribution all need equally careful thought, and in particular the choice of site is critical, but it’s really, really good fun
Masterclass time once again, and just in time for Christmas. Tony Conigliaro is hosting the class at The Drink Factory Lab to explore the secrets of Beefeater 24 Gin. Guests will be guided through the art of mixing the perfect martini, as well making party classics and finding out out all about the current trend for tea based cocktails.
The event takes place on 3rd December between 3 – 5pm at 35 Britannia Rown, (The Lab). Best of all its FREE!
RSVP – firstname.lastname@example.org
16 November 2011
This is probably the best example of layering and viscosity we have ever seen. Viscosity is a measure of a liquids resistance. In simpler terms it is basically a measure of how thick a fluid is. For instance water is thin and has a low viscosity, while syrup or honey is thick and has a high viscosity.
In bartender terms it basically means, and is the reason for why we can layer some fluids atop others. Often for our purposes this is also dependant on the sugar content of the fluid.
Would you like you drink layered or patchy madam?
Tom (his real name isn't Tom) cannot stand the taste of alcohol. At all. And I know it's not his fault. He's always a good sport, tasting every single drink I've made for him. Each time, he smiles, as if confident this time, this drink, he'll find something he'll genuinely enjoy and know exactly what to order at bars forever. For me, it's like watching a car wreck in slow motion. I carefully study his face, looking for a sign, the slightest hint of a smile that indicates he's pleased, satisfied, or at least indifferent. But, every time, this venture ends the same. Tom's face tightens with disgust, his eyes squint, his tongue hangs limp from his defeated mouth.
Tom drinks Bud Lime and Coronas. I drink Tom's cocktail leftovers. Once in a while, I'll mix up something exceptionally light and he'll happily accept a glass, knowing he'll never be able to bring himself to ask for an amaretto sour or a dark and stormy (hold the stormy) in a bar. Poor Tom.
I decided to start doing some research. I had to understand why Tom didn't enjoy the same drinks I found so delicious.
Does Alcohol Actually Taste Good? (or are we all just addicts?)
Humans have been drinking alcohol for thousands of years. The earliest evidence we have dates back to the production of alcohol in China around 8000 B.C. And for as long as we've made it, we've treasured it. Pottery fragments left by Neolithic settlements living in modern-day Georgia around 6000 B.C. reveal images of celebration associated with alcoholic beverages.
Of course, early fermented wines and beers were relatively low alcohol. Some societies may have used alcohol production more as a means of preservation than for alcohol's inhibition-reducing effects. In fact, we didn't know how to distill alcohol to stronger strengths until 1200 A.D.
For more on the history of booze, see Drink: a Cultural History
A few thousand years is far too little time to evolve any sort of biological preference for alcohol, but we humans are very good at passing along our taste aversions and preferences through cultural and other unconscious cues. So what if the only reason I think alcohol tastes good is because people enjoy getting drunk and somehow that drug reliance has translated into a taste preference for ethanol? Would cocktails taste better if they were all virgin?
Some of the most telling research I found on the taste of alcohol came from the Department of Otolaryngology (the study of the ear, nose, and throat) at Warsaw Medical University in Poland. In 2000, Dr. Anna Scinska and five of her colleagues performed an experiment that, so far as I can tell, is the most definitive exploration of how people experience the flavor of alcohol available.
Dr. Scinska recruited 20 volunteers to taste small squirts of various concentrations of ethanol, sugar sucrose syrup, citric acid, saline, and quinine, a bittering agent. Perception of ethanol's taste was in question. The other solutions were meant to represent the tastes of sweet, sour, salty, and bitter - the four basic tastes the tongue can experience (MSG is a fifth, but is less explored). The results were intriguing. Every single test subject said that ethanol is bitter, even when it was present only as a 0.3% solution. The second most common taste descriptor, however, was that ethanol tasted sweet.
In the second part of Dr. Scinska's experiment, the test subjects were invited back to compare ethanol to tastes, but this time they were asked to rate the taste similarity of ethanol to a combination of both quinine and sucrose. The results confirmed what had been observed during the first test. When subjects tasted a 10% ethanol solution, they found it tasted most similar to a 3% sucrose solution with just a little quinine (0.005%) mixed in.
From this research, it seemed clear that people find alcohol both bitter and sweet. Everyone appears to find alcohol bitter, but apparently not extremely bitter, regardless of concentration. People also thought alcohol was sweet, but once again, only slightly, regardless of concentration.
These revelations were fortifying for me. The research showed that alcohol delivers a complex mix of bitter and sweet. Even at cocktail concentrations, the flavors were described as "pleasant". In fact, as I did more reading on the subject, I found that other animals (rats, elephants, birds included) seem to seek out naturally occurring alcohol for its sweet taste.
So why did Tom still hate cocktails? Going off the Scinska research, I thought maybe it might have something to do with the way he perceives bitterness. More research was needed.
It's Not Tom's Fault
In 2004, Sarah Lanier, a graduate of the dietetics program at the University of Connecticut, recruited 49 undergraduate students from the UConn population for an experiment. Lanier was working with Dr. Valerie B. Duffy, a professor at UConn who earlier that year had published a paper linking ethanol (the stuff that makes alcohol alcoholic) to a compound called 6-n-propylthiouracil, commonly known as PROP.
Here's how Lanier's experiment played out. Each of the 49 recruits sampled four different drinks: pilsner beer, blended scotch whiskey, instant espresso, and unsweetened grapefruit juice. They rated how bitter or sweet each drink tasted on two scales - intensity and whether they liked the taste. And that was it. The session must have been pretty easy for the college kids. They got free booze, a little coffee, and a few dollars for an hour of work.
But Lanier found some interesting results with this simple experiment. She collected two more important pieces of data about the students: (1) how much alcohol they consumed and (2) whether they were sensitive to PROP bitterness. People who are sensitive to PROP are known as "supertasters" because they find certain foods unbearably bitter. Most people are middle tasters, while some are "nontasters" - people who barely experience PROP bitterness at all. Lanier discovered that nontasters not only found bitter foods to taste less bitter, they also experienced sweet foods as sweeter. On the other end of the spectrum, supertasters found all bitter drinks to taste more bitter.
When Lanier linked people's perception of sweet and bitter to their consumption of alcohol, she discovered something really unexpected. People who thought scotch tasted sweeter and less bitter drank more alcohol on average. In addition, this effect appeared regardless of whether people said they actually liked scotch or not. How the students experienced beer, however, did not seem to have any predictive value on total alcohol consumption. Instead, Lanier found simply that more men tended to say they "liked beer" and those that showed this preference tended to drink more.
The UConn experiment seems to show two things. First, some people experience hard alcohol as extremely bitter and they drink less alcohol of any type as a result, even if they say they like the taste of hard alcohol. Second, although people experience beer very differently as well, they seem much more able to overcome their taste aversion, probably as a result of social pressure.
Aha! Now I understood why Tom could stomach some light beers, but struggled with sweet cocktails. He had probably overcome the bitterness of beer through social pressure and acquired tolerance to aversion, but the whole point of a craft cocktail is to use different strong liquors in harmony. You want to taste the alcohol. But that taste was torture for Tom.
But What About the Burning Taste of Alcohol?
There was one more thing I had to look into before closing the book on the "why do some people hate the taste of alcohol" case. Many of the participants in Dr. Scinska's 2000 study ascribed a sour taste to ethanol, but upon interview, described more of a "burning sensation". The characteristic burn of alcohol is well-documented, but, I wondered, what impact did it have on taste perception?
I posed the question to the question and answer site Quora and after a few months got a well-researched, thorough response from a medical student named Jae Won Joh:
The answer is not simple, unfortunately, and it's actually a bit difficult to pinpoint. Let's go through some of the research I've been able to dig up. Skip the bulletpoints and just go for the intermittent summaries if you're impatient.
· In 1965, Hellekant discovered that cat gustatory fibers respond to ethanol by increasing their firing pattern. These fibers were also responsive to water, acetic acid, quinine, and salt. In cat non-gustatory fibers, ethanol caused a direct increase in firing up to a certain concentration before causing paralysis. This was one of the first studies looking into how ethanol affected taste nerves.
· In 1999, Sako and Yamamoto showed in rats that you could induce aversion to alcohols, suggesting a possible burning/unpleasant sensation.
· In 2002, Danilova and Hellekant duplicated Hellekant's 1965 work in rhesus monkeys, showing that ethanol induces increases in firing in about half of lingual non-gustatory receptors. The taste fibers which respond to ethanol are also sensitive light touch and cooling. This suggested some sort of neuronal manipulation by ethanol, possibly with mechanoreceptors.
· In 2002, Trevisani published a brilliant paper showing that ethanol actually potentiates TRPV-1, a heat-gated ion channel that is responsible for the burning sensation elicited by capsaicin. Ethanol potentiated the response of TRPV-1 to capsaicin, protons, and heat; lowering the threshold for heat activation from 42°C to 34°C. This provides a likely mechanistic explanation for the ethanol-induced sensory responses that occur at body temperature.
Layman's summary up till 2002: we thought ethanol was just messing with nerves, but apparently there's this special receptor that it wreaks hell on, and it just so happens to be the receptor for capsaicin, which causes the burning associated with spicy food. Innnnnteresting. Veeeeery interesting...
· In 2004, it was found that ethanol actually activates a neural pathway reactive to sucrose. That's right: ethanol is, at least to a rat brain, not all that far off from sugar. Which, in an evolutionary sense, is not all too surprising, given that they're both energy sources.
· In 2004 and 2005, Lyall showed in a nice series of papers that TRPV-1 is in taste receptors, proving that they were definitely in the right location for stimulation. This is basically further confirmation of Trevisani's work, I think.
· In 2005, Simon and Araujo published a nice review of the data thus far. Just thought I'd recognize their paper, it's good.
· In 2009, Blednov and Harris demonstrated that if you knocked out the TRPV-1 receptor in mice, they would show significantly greater consumption of ethanol than their normal counterparts. However, you could still induce aversion in both groups, and withdrawal symptoms weren't different between the two.
Layman's summary up till 2009: we know now about alcohol and capsaicin, but it's apparent that alcohol has other taste pathways as well, possibly involving sweetness. It may even involve something else as well, given that you can still get a mouse to hate alcohol even if it doesn't have the capsaicin receptor.
Basically, what Joh summarized was that ethanol seems to trigger a pathway that is also responsible for the burning sensation you get from eating spicy foods and, importantly, that ethanol reduces the temperature at which the pain gets triggered.
I knew from previous research that there is only one way to build up a tolerance to spicy food: eat more spicy food. Perhaps sensitivity to alcohol works in a similar fashion?
How to Deal with Different Types of Drinkers
Everyone knows that flavor preferences vary greatly between people, but I had no idea ethanol could deliver such a complex range of pleasurable and unpleasurable flavors to different tasters. How one experiences alcohol depends on their genetics, social/cultural influences, and tolerance built up over time. Rather than go into all the takeaways, I've organized some advice for dealing with different types of drinkers.
For the beginning drinker
You have to be careful with the beginning drinkers because you have no idea whether they are a supertaster or not. Beginning drinkers are also the most prone to developing preferences for or aversions toward alcohol, so you want to make sure they don't drink too much or have a negative experience - it could deal irreparable damage.
Test the waters - mix something they're familiar with, like lemonade, and add half the alcohol you might add to a full drink. See if they appreciate how the alcohol adds complexity to the drink, or if they immediately pull away, cringing. Then you might have some idea what type of drinker they are and proceed from there.
For the Supertasting Social Drinker
For those individuals who are sensitive to PROP, the only way to make sure they enjoy their drink is to keep the abv relatively low. Highballs, swizzles, shrubs, and the like are classy and can be just as strong as an up drink, but are more diluted. Steps should also be taken to reduce the perceived bitterness of the drink. Avoid bitters and quinine if possible. Instead, emphasize sour and sweet flavors. Consider adding some salt, as salt can reduce the perception of bitterness (see here for an example). Experiment with complex flavors that are not alcohol-based, such as herbs and infused syrups.
For the Connoisseur
For a guest who's a fan of fine scotches or whiskys, you're probably safe to assume either they're not a supertaster or they have acquired a powerful enough preference for alcohol that the bitterness doesn't bother them anymore. Mixing drinks for people like this can be especially difficult because it can be hard to gauge how much tolerance they've developed in their TPRV-1 receptors. If ethanol works anything like capsaicin, what one person sees as a spicy, pleasant sip might appear to another as bland and pale. If at all possible, it might help to have the guest taste a simple blended scotch and describe it. If they find it bland and are looking for a complex drink, it may help to add bitters, quinine, or aperitifs to up the complexity.
I somewhat suspect I am a nontaster. I love spicy, bitter cocktails and eat kale on a weekly basis (supertasters find many bitter vegetables overwhelming). It's not a bad life, though sometimes I wonder whether I've missed out on taste experiences others with more sensitive taste receptors enjoy. This may be one reason I enjoy smoky cocktails (have you seen our DIY cold smoker?), carbonation, and cocktails with capsaicin mixed or infused in. Nontasters are easy to please, but tough to impress. I've found that simply using higher proof spirits doesn't cut it; the harmony of other ingredients is thrown off. Challenge nontasters with new flavors. I remember once taking a shot of angostura bitters with John Gertsen of Drink. It was one of the strangest things I could imagine doing, but it was delicious. A shot of fernet, anyone?
Thanks to Cool Hunting for this brilliantly shot "behing the scenes" video of the lab at 69 Colebrooke Row.
Although alot of the equipment and technology has been moved up the road to the new, and more spacious, lab, the video provides insights into the methods of thinking and ideas behind many of the cocktails at 69.
09 November 2011
We all hit that point in the day, 4 or 5 coffee's in. Still feeling as though you need that extra hit to get you through the final hours before it is socially acceptable to start drinking. Now there is an alternative. Delivered by Aeroshot, who had previously developed an "inhaler" of chocolate.....just without an calories and no actual masticating involved.
Each container consists of 3 puffs of powdered caffeine that is absorbed directly onto the tongue. The total value works out to around 100mg of caffeine which works out to about the same at a large cup of coffee.
Created by Harvard biomedical engineering professor David Edwards, Aeroshot also contains your daily recommended does of vitamin B6, B12 and Niacin.
"Frequently, the first time people do it, they laugh" Says Edwards. "There's something funny about the act, how it happens in your mouth."
Inspired by Dave Arnolds splurry of knowledge on the post below we thought it was time to take the time to look at the pressure cooker as a whole and talk about how we can use that behind or above the bar.
Firstly, what is pressure cooking? Basically the pressure cooker allows you to preset and control the pressure inside the cooker and does not allow any air or liquid to escape below that pressure. This allows you to increase the boiling point of liquid inside the cooker so that the food can be heated to a higher temperature before the liquids start to boil.
The build up of pressure is created before cooking starting with the use of water and steam. The steam is trapped inside the cooker. Put simply "the higher the pressure the shorter the cooking time". Generally speaking you only need around 1/3 of the normal cooking time.
It is only recently that experiments with pressure cooking have begun to show us how much more they can do, than act as an expedient alternative to normal cooking.
For instance if you have watched the video below you will now that pressure cookers react in a interesting way with foods high in sulphur. To demonstrate onions were cooked at 15psi and if cooked in just the right way you can take away the pungency normally associated with onion flavour. The same happened with horse radish, and garlic. After cooking you can eat as much as you like without suffering the usual burning or after dinner garlic breath you would normally expect.
Dave Arnold also goes on to mention how the most prominent flavour left in the onion is it's sweetness. Leaving the options open of making ice cream or even a sweet syrup we could use in cocktail. For, maybe, more practical bar purposes we also find that you can "press" the juice out of fruits.
Berries you can do whole and harder fruits simply need to be roughly sliced into smaller pieces. You can also make syrups and extract flavour from herbs and flower. Just be very careful the flowers are edible, not covered in chemicals and can also be used in steam distillation! To do this you will need a heat proof container, a trivet and a steamer basket. All of which you can buy from the same supplier as your pressure cooker if they did not come with it already .
Specific recipes we will go into another time however make sure you start testing out the best ways of juicing or extracting at different pressures. This potentially leaves a very quick and controlled method of creating our own juices, syrups,and concentrated flavours that we can use every day on the bar.
So firstly a reminder that fire is DANGEROUS! and do not try this at home.......
However imagine how much fun it could be if a trained professional were using this, under stirct safety conditions, behind a bar to zest an orange or toast a garnish infront of a customer.....
02 November 2011
This study itself is a couple of years old however, today feels like any justifications for drinking are welcomed, it has been one of those weeks already! Plus we haven't reported on this before so here it is!
The findings come from two seperate studies, one based in the US and one in the UK. They followed two groups of children, measuring intelligence before the ages of 16 and subsequently volume of alcohol intake later in life.
Intelligence levels were categorized as "very dull", "dull", "normal", "bright" and "very bright". At the age of 23 the group from the US was revisited however the group from the UK were followed throughout their 20's, 30's and 40's.
Re-assuringly for many of us, it was found that the more intelligent a child the greater their volume of alcohol intake later in life. So binge britain is in fact a rabble of geniuses who've lost their way from a white board of equations to a gleaming back bar full of shiny spirits and temptingly named cocktails. *Phew*
Now, we have all had the experience of meeting someone who could be described as "very dull" and observed their high level of alcohol intake. These very dull people often suddenly became more interesting as a result. However I'd bet we have all also met someone "very bright" or someone wildly creative who drinks just as much if not more. Musicians and artists are a good example of the latter. Often in this case we find that the only way they can bare to look out onto this cruel and unjust world without shedding a tear for its occupants is to turn to a bottle and just get through it "day by day".
Many talk about how they are inclined to drink more in order to numb themselves and relate more easily to those around them, though often finding this may in-fact is not be the case in the morning. A good opportunity for the "very bright" to think fast and formulate a non-akward exit strategy. Others will swear blindly that it helps their creative process (it doesn't, alcohol doesn't add anything at all, bar verbal lubrication). Whatever the reason for every "dull drunk" we can find a "very bright" one and often they will get on just fine.
Theories range from Satasho Kanazawaat of Psychology Today siting evolutionary causes...… "
"Drinking alcohol was "unintentional, accidental, and haphazard until about 10,000 years ago. Smart people are generally early adopters and, in the context of human history, the substance [alcohol] and the method of consumption are both evolutionarily novel." - Ummmmm so alcoholics are more evolved then…….okay, moving on.
To people who theorise more intelligent people may have higher profile jobs that require socialising, and thus drinking. The classic "everyone else was having one" reason, nice!
Others argue (rather loosely) intelligent children were suppressed during their youth and studied hard meaning they missed out on the rebellious and often more "fun" side of growing up. Now that there are not any drinking taboos in adult life they are making up for lost time and getting the booze in. I wonder if this might show more about their personality that the study at hand…….
Personally I'm not entirely sure, we do however know that some of the worlds greatest men and women were booze addled drunks for instance Freud, Ernest Hemingway, Jack Kerouac and Johnny Cash all enjoyed a tipple every other 10 minutes or so.
Whatever the reason at least the next time we worry we might be delving slightly too deep into the cocktail pot for a Tuesday night, we can safely assume that it is infact because we are actually geniuses and we feel oppressed by a world that can never understand our intellect………Yep that's what I'm sticking with.
Alternative theories are welcome! Comment or send them in.
Imagine a drink that changes colour, or texture, or even flavour as you drink it!? The flavour one has already been done and unfortunately the reaction above, as amazing as it looks, is also quite poisonous although very easy to do. It will be a while still before we have drinks that change colour as we drink them.
The affect is called Briggs-Rauscher reaction and is a combination of 3 different solutions
1. Potassium Iodate, Sulfuric Acid, and Water
2. 30% Hydrogen peroxide solution
3. Malonic Acid, Manganese sulfate monohydrate, starch and water
We know that thickening a liquid makes you think it is sweeter, even if that liquid is water, we also now that by adding what feels like pulp to a juice we think it is fresh and therefor healthier.
The lecture itself is very very long so come prepared with pen paper and a couple of hours spare.
The cooking and demonstrations start around the 36 minute mark.
So in theory this could mean that any fresh strawberry pummelled into a cocktail is actually counter-acting the potentially bad effects of the alcohol in the drink.......
Good news for all drinkers!!