Infusions have long been a part of various cuisines and cooking methods. From classic drinks like tea, French press coffee, Limoncello, and many soda pops, to flavored oils and fruity vinegars, infusions have always been a part of our daily lives. At its simplest form, the liquid or food to be infused and the flavoring agent(s) are combined together so the flavors from the two meld into each other, leaving an infused liquid or food end-product behind.
When done in the traditional manner, the infusion procedure takes anywhere from a few hours to several months. The modernist methods of using a whipping siphon, sous vide, and fat washing can reduce the processing time significantly. For instance, the whipping siphon just takes a couple of minutes to complete this infusing cycle. Even though the modernist techniques work really slick, there are a few cases when nothing can really replace a time-honored traditional infusion. However, these are techniques worth experimenting with!
These recipes and others are available in our book Modernist Cooking Made Easy: Infusions: The Ultimate Guide to Crafting Flavorful Infusions Using Modernist and Traditional Techniques which you can get on Amazon.com.
Fat washing is the process of infusing the flavors of tasty fats into alcohol. This infused rum is fat washed with a flavorful spiced butter and it takes on the creamy undertones of the milk, the nutty flavor of the browned butter, and the warm flavors of the cinnamon and nutmeg.
Dried mushrooms are full of concentrated flavors. Infusing them into water creates a rich, flavorful broth that is a wonderful base for building savory dishes. You can alter the spices or herbs used in the infusion to further complement the final dish you are creating.
This infused syrup is made from sarsaparilla root with a backdrop of licorice and vanilla. This sous vide infusion recipe makes a thick, sweet syrup you can mix with club soda, use in cocktails or naturally ferment.
This infusion is packed with the tasty traditional Italian flavors of sun dried tomatoes, garlic, Parmesan cheese, and rosemary infused into a rich olive oil. The resulting bold infusion is awesome on bread or drizzled on grilled fish.
I like to infuse the flavor of pepperoni into canola oil so I can drizzle it on dishes whenever something needs a bump in flavor. Pepperoni infused oil is great on roasted vegetables or as a dip for bread.
Making sous vide raspberry infused vinegar is a great way to preserve fresh berries. I like to make a vinaigrette out of the resulting infusion to serve on spinach salad or as a sauce on white fish like cod or bass.
Mulled wine is a traditional spiced wine, usually flavored with cinnamon, raisins, orange, and star anise. Using the sous vide infusion process results in a more flavorful, nuanced mulled wine by preventing flavor loss that normally occurs when wine is boiled.
Rum punch is a strong, fruity drink that is best sipped on the beach! This infusion takes many of the common rum punch flavors and infuses them directly in the rum. I like to
serve the resulting infusion with a splash of orange juice and pineapple juice.
Making your own infusion allows you to produce the exact flavors you are looking for. This peach brandy recipe infuses the sweetness and fruity flavors from ripe peaches into brandy. It also works well with other fruits or berries.
You can make nice versions of aged cocktails in a few hours with a Mason jar by taking advantage of the quick and easy sous vide process. It does not give the cocktail as much body as aging it for 6 weeks in a barrel, but it still is a satisfying drink.
The light, fruity flavors of apples and pears complement the herbal notes from the gin, resulting in a rounded infusion full of flavors. The infused gin is great in martinis and holds up well to other complex cocktails.
Bourbon holds up wonderfully to the strong flavor of espresso and this infusion results in a rich, bold bourbon that can be used in many different cocktails. For a fun variation you can also add a vanilla bean or cinnamon stick to the infusion.
The fruity cherry notes in this infusion complement the spicy rye and tone down its bite. The cinnamon and clove also contribute background flavors to round out the infusion. The resulting infusion can be enjoyed over ice or mixed into cocktails.
I like to mimic an Arnold Palmer by infusing vodka with the lemon and tea flavors, resulting in a flavorful addition to drinks on a hot day. I infuse the lemons first to fully extract their flavors, then add the tea near the end to minimize the bitterness that can be released.
This recipe uses guajillo and chipotle chiles to infuse the vodka with smokey and spicy flavors that complement most Bloody Mary mixes. This vodka is very spicy and made to
be mixed but it can be tweaked for a mellow, sipping style infusion.
The resulting vodka from this orange and vanilla sous vide infusion is citrusy with a deep vanilla backbone. It is awesome in a martini but my favorite is in a Creamsicle, a rich and creamy dessert cocktail.
During the whipping siphon infusion process the aroma of the basil is transferred to the mozzarella, flavoring it and
imbuing it with basil essence. Once the mozzarella is infused I like to serve it in a flavorful salad by adding roasted cherry tomatoes and pine nuts.
The smoky, rich flavor of bacon can be extracted into a water infusion to create a flavorful broth. I add some peppercorns and rosemary to round out the flavors. I serve it as a soup base with steamed vegetables and roasted pork pieces as garnish.
Sweet pears and spicy ginger meld together into a flavorful vinegar infusion that is fantastic on sushi or sprinkled over steamed fish. The resulting pickled pears make a great addition to a chutney or used as a garnish.
I often use a few splashes of this vinegar to brighten up the
dish by adding even more freshness with the infusion of lemon, lime, grapefruit, and orange peels. It's a perfect topping to drizzle on salads or add to cocktails to provide some sour notes.
I use a whipping siphon process to quickly infuse gin with tonic flavors, resulting in a tart alcohol that isn't watered down. Infusing grapefruit adds acidity and citrus notes while cinchona bark adds the quinine tonic flavor.
This infusion adds the sweet and tart subtle flavors of cucumber and sour apples to the natural gin taste of juniper and herbs. Enjoy this infused gin over ice with club soda or just a splash of tonic water!
Sous vide simple syrups are a breeze to make and allows me to keep it on hand for easy use! This cinnamon syrup infusion recipe has a spicy and sweet quality to it that I just love to add to drinks or carbonate it by itself.
Lemon infused vodka is a citrusy, flavorful drink and the base for limoncello. By using the whipping siphon to quickly extract the flavors from the lemon peels, the final product is a little less rounded but still so refreshing.
Nitrous oaking is a take on the barrel aging prepared cocktails process by utilizing the whipping siphon. The high pressures draw out the caramel flavors from the toasted oak chips and infuse them into the liquid.
A hot toddy is a classic cold- and flu-killing drink consisting of hot water and whiskey flavored with lemon and cloves. This hot toddy infusion might not cure you of your sickness but it sure tastes great!
In this infusion the sweet and tart flavor of blackberries pairs wonderfully with the slightly spicy and herbal basil. It is a fruity, flavorful addition to many cocktails and is especially tasty in rum punch or as a liqueur.
This recipe focuses on the subtle flavors of the rosemary and sage by using a neutral base oil. With a sous vide machine, the infusion process is simple: combine the ingredients, heat, cool and store! What a great flavor enhancing finishing oil for fish dishes!
This recipe infuses the flavors of shallot, lemon, and tarragon into a vinegar and then makes it into a light, bright vinaigrette. This pairing adds several base layers of flavor to the fish. For a modernist twist, thicken it into a sauce with xanthan gum!
Infused vinegars are a great way to add subtle flavors to vinaigrettes and sauces. When making your own sous vide can compress the infusion process into a matter of hours instead of week or months. I like to use this refreshing raspberry vinaigrette on spinach salad or as a sauce on white fish.
This recipe uses guajillo and chipotle chiles to infuse the vodka with smokey and very spicy flavors that complement most Bloody Mary mixes. You can reduce the spiciness by only using 1 guajillo pepper.
This crostini recipe infuses the heat, smokiness and flavor of dried chiles into canola oil, which is then thickened into a foam. It is also a good topping for grilled meats or as a spicy spread for fresh bread. The process of infusing oil with flavors before thickening it leads to countless variations you can adapt to any dish.
This recipe is a great crostini topping for any party, especially if some attendees might be less adventurous eaters! It resembles a more traditional dish but it have a subtle modernist touch. Garnishing the white bean puree with lemon zest pulls in even more highlights to the food.
This recipe infuses milk with the great flavor of maple and pecan then turns it into a tender panna cotta dessert. The common modernist gelling ingredients of iota carrageean and kappa carrageenan are used to make the panna cotta portion; an immersion blender and a whipping siphon are both modernist equipment used to make this delicate ending to your meal.
Limoncello is a classic Italian digestif from Southern Italy made by macerating lemon peels in alcohol for up to a month. In this recipe I use the modernist equipment power of the whipping siphon to reduce the process down to only 5 minutes. This end product is added to sugar and water; now it's ready to use.
Honey goat cheese is already light and airy but in this recipe it gets a modernist cooking twist by using a whipping siphon to turn it into creamy clouds. I serve it on small flatbreads with port-infused figs for a fun texture and taste combination!
These cocktail cubes are a fun way to entertain your guests. They are rum infused strawberries encased in a daiquiri cube. When you bite into them the cube starts off with a sweet and tart flavor followed up by the kick of the rum-infused strawberries.
My favorite end-of-day drink has to be bourbon. Most days I'll stick to my favorite brands on the rocks or I'll make a Manhattan, but sometimes I'm up for trying something different. In this case, an orange-cinnamon infused bourbon made with my whipping siphon.
While the most common and well-known use of a whipping siphon is to create foams you can also use it to infuse liquids and to carbonate liquids. In this modernist recipe, I carbonate the water in watermelon to make a fizzy salad. It's a unique way to present an easy summer dish.
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