Tools for Cutting-Edge Cuisine

New cooking techniques have been receiving a lot of attention, and now with the release of Nathan Myhrvold's "Modernist Cuisine" a book three years in the making today's methods for preparing food have been compiled in one comprehensive cookbook. Here are some of the tools that make cutting-edge cuisine possible.

Rotovap

Chemistry students are familiar with the rotary evaporator a piece of lab equipment that removes solvents from a mixture of compounds through evaporation and condensation. The rotovap is designed for low-temperature distilling, so ingredients don't have to be excessively heated during the process.<br><br> Which is useful for cooking purposes. Rotovap distillation can separate food compounds from one another without altering them, unlike standard distillation.<br><br> In the kitchen, the device has been used to concentrate flavors and extract aromas by separating different flavor molecules. For instance, you can get the purest and freshest flavor from an orange by removing the water from the fruit.

Centrifuge

In the kitchen, centrifuges are used to separate liquids and solids. A centrifuge can be used to clarify juice by separating the pulp and the liquid, or to remove the fat from an emulsion.<br><br> "By rotational speeds up to 30,000 rpm, they can separate orange juice from its pulp and separate the quantity of fat in tomato puree," said chef Herv

Refractometer

Refractometers have been in use for a while at wineries and breweries, to measure the sugar in fresh grapes and the progress of the fermentation process in both wine and beer.<br><br> The devices measure the refraction of light through a liquid. In recent years, baristas have been using them to brew the "perfect cup of coffee."<br><br> For brewing said perfect cup, two factors come in to play, according to the National Coffee Association: the brew strength, or total dissolved solids (which must be between 1.2 and 1.55 percent), and the brew's extraction rate. The perfect coffee extracts only between 18 and 22 percent of the flavor from a coffee bean.<br><br> A refractometer can be used to determine both those numbers and thus has become the essential tool for baristas the world over.

Sous-vide equipment

Sous-vide is French for "in vacuum," which describes exactly how that kind of cooking is done.<br><br> In order to cook sous-vide, a chef will place the food in an impervious plastic bag, put the bag under vacuum, then heat-seal the bag and release the vacuum.<br><br> The process is usually paired with low-temperature cooking, which is any procedure involving a cooking temperature that is close to the desired final internal temperature. This process requires precise temperature control and a cooking medium such as water or oil that conducts heat more efficiently and accurately than dry air.<br><br> The process produces consistently cooked meat that retains its tenderness and juices.

Immersion circulator

The immersion circulator goes hand in hand with sous-vide cooking. The device is used to maintain the temperature of the liquid used for cooking.<br><br> Since temperature control and accuracy are very important for sous-vide and low-temperature cooking, this tool makes it possible. Malivert says it "gives you unrivaled control over cooking," and you will "be able to cook anything to perfection".<br><br> In an immersion circulator, the heating coil and pump are set at a specific temperature and then inserted into a body of water. The heating coil keeps the water at the correct temperature while the pump circulates the water, eliminating any hot or cold spots.

Liquid nitrogen

For those who made ice cream in their high school chemistry class, the concept of using liquid nitrogen to make food is nothing new, but the process is now being used for more than just ice cream.<br><br> Liquid nitrogen will flash-freeze anything it touches, including things once thought impossible to freeze. It has been used to freeze olive oil into popcorn shapes, and to make ice cubes out of vodka.<br><br> Of course, cooking with liquid nitrogen brings a whole other set of safety precautions into the kitchen; as it can freeze food on contact, it will do the same to your fingers.

The Anti-Griddle

The name makes it sound like something a super-villain might think up, but the Anti-Griddle is actually used much like liquid nitrogen, to freeze food items.<br><br> The Anti-Griddle (developed by the company PolyScience) looks like a traditional cook top, but its minus 30 degrees Fahrenheit surface (minus 34 degrees Celsius) instantly freezes sauces and pur

Colloid gels

Anyone who has ever made Jell-O is familiar with colloid gels. A colloid is a mixture of two substances whether gas, liquid or solid in which one is dissolved and evenly distributed in the other, without the creation of chemical bonds.<br><br> Foams, spherifications and gels all popular in molecular gastronomy are colloids. The form enables chefs to convert dishes that are typically liquids into things that will hold a shape or even become entirely solid.<br><br> Colloid gel is formed by the combination of juices and gelatin, agar or other gelling agents. For spherifications are formed when the liquid is mixed with a hydrocolloid (a colloid in liquid form) called sodium alginate. The liquid is then dropped in a water bath containing calcium; at that point, the calcium and alginate react to form thin walls of gel around the liquid center.

Combination oven

A combination oven "can cook with air like a convection oven does, or cook with steam, or can do both in combination," Malivert told InnovationNewsDaily. The combi oven features three modes: dry heat convection, steam mode and combination. While the first two are relatively standard, combination mode is what makes this oven so popular in kitchens.<br><br> Combi ovens provide the consistently cooked meat of sous-vide but can also make baking much more efficient and effective. Many bread recipes suggest spraying your dough with water when it is in the oven, or even placing a pan of water into the oven while bread is cooking. With the combi oven, that is no longer a necessity; the oven does all the work for you.<br><br> In addition, the combi oven has the ability to return frozen food items to as close to fresh as possible.

Pacojet

The Pacojet has the ability to turn almost any food item into ice cream, which should be enough of a purpose for any device. But it also has the ability to blend fresh foods into meat terrines and herb concentrates.<br><br> "The Pacojet machine mills frozen food into a fine icy paste or powder" that can be used "to make ice cream in a minute," Malivert said.<br><br> According to Chow.com, "the Pacojet takes food that's been frozen rock-solid and shaves it at 2,000 rpm, in layers less than 2 microns thick. To get an idea of how fine that is, a strand of silk is about 7 microns thick. The results are ultrasmooth, with no ice crystals surviving the whirling internal blade."

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