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From tea and coffee to dashi and soups, using sous vide to infuse water results in flavorful "micro-stocks" and unique beverages. Most sous vide infused water is cooked at 130°F to 160°F (55°C to 71°C) for 1 to 3 hours, then chilled and strained.
Sous Vide infused waters are becoming more and more popular as people look to replace sugary soda with something a little more flavorful than plain water and more exciting than the standard iced tea. Various herbs, spices, fruits, and vegetables can be steeped in water, lending their flavors to the infusion. Most infused waters can follow the general guidelines for sous vide infusions.
Hot infusions, or infusions using the whipping siphon or sous vide are the most common way to work with water because flavoring agents soaking in water on the counter for days or weeks usually isn't very safe. Using the heat reduces that time down to minutes or hours.
Many flavored waters simply use boiling water, like most teas, but using sous vide for water infusions allows precision control over the process for an extended time. I've used this to make mock "cold brew" sous vide coffee (ground beans soaked at 130°F to 150°F (54°C to 65°C) for 1 to 3 hours), chaga mushroom tea, and low-temp brewed iced green teas.
Broth and dashi are very common water infusions. They normally use meat, chicken, seaweed, or vegetables to impart delicate flavors into the water. The water is then usually used as a base for sauces or soups.
More flavorful sous vide broth and stocks can also be made through the infusion process. However, the traditional chicken or beef stock is usually made in such large quantities that the whipping siphon or sous vide machine tends to be less efficient, and less flavorful, than the stovetop or pressure cooker. Micro-stocks, small amounts of highly flavored stocks, can be made with the whipping siphon or sous vide.
Light, chilled soups can be made by infusing fruits, vegetables or berries into water. These can be served with garnishes as soups, or as the base for light sauces. Fruity infusions can also be used as a base for drinks or kid friendly “cocktails”.
Most water and juice infusions will only last for a week or two and should be stored in the refrigerator.
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