Using sous vide to make infusions was something that took me a while to get into, but once I did, I started to do it all the time! There's a lot of uses for infusions, from making flavored vinegar and oil to alcohols, syrups and specialty cocktails.
The biggest benefit to using sous vide to make an infusion is the speed it happens. In a traditional infusion, you may have to soak the flavoring agents for days, or sometimes months, to get the flavor you are looking for. With sous vide, this process can be done in a few hours.
You also have complete control over the infusion temperature, which allows you to extract different flavors into your infusions. Something infused at 130°F (54.4°C) will taste different than when it is infused at 185°F (85°C).
If you are interested in learning a lot more information about infusions, I wrote a cookbook all about them. It's called Modernist Cooking Made Easy: Infusions and it covers making traditional infusions as well as sous vide and whipping siphon infusions.
The sous vide infusion process is pretty simple. Combine a liquid you want to infuse, such as alcohol, vinegar, oil, or water with some flavoring agents like herbs, spices, or fruits. I generally combine them in a Mason jar, but bags work as well.
Place the infusion in a water bath, usually set to between 131°F and 176°F (55°C and 80°C). Let the infusion cook for about 1 to 3 hours, or up to 12 hours for some oil infusions.
Once cooked, remove the infusion from the water bath and chill it completely. Strain the infusion and it is ready to use.
I was really surprised how forgiving many of the sous vide infusions were. While most of my recipes needed tweaking, almost none of them didn't start off really good. So don't hesitate to experiment with different ingredients that sound good to you, I'm sure you'll love the results!
Here are some of my favorite sous vide infusion recipes.
In this lesson we discussed how to create sous vide infusions.
Do you know anyone that is struggling with sous vide and would find this information helpful? Why not do them a favor and send them a link to this Exploring Sous Vide email course or get them a printed version of this course!
Thanks again and happy cooking!
Jason Logsdon, Amazing Food Made Easy