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Whip It Good: Nitrogen Cavitation in the Kitchen

Infuse foods and drinks with powerful flavor in minutes, using an ordinary cream whipper.

M41_NitrogenCavitationOpenerGK-1

This article first appeared in Make: Volume 41.

This article first appeared in Make: Volume 41.

Cream whippers are used in restaurants to create perfect whipped cream instantly. But this equipment can be exploited for many other culinary creations, such as rapid flavor infusions and marinades, in a method called nitrogen cavitation.

How It Works

Nitrogen cavitation is a method of homogenizing cells and tissues using rapid decompression of gases. Basically, you add nitrous oxide gas (N2O) to your mixture of ingredients in the cream whipper. The pressurized gas will dissolve into the cells of the ingredients.

When you release the pressure rapidly, nitrogen bubbles form within the cells and expand, breaking the cell walls. This releases flavor compounds quickly, allowing them to easily dissolve in solution and permeate other ingredients. It even tenderizes meats.

The possibilities are really endless, but we have a few recipe suggestions.

M41_NitrogenCavitationStep-9

Infused Booze

Why steep for a week? Make these recipes in minutes.

Limoncello Liqueur

  • 4 lemons
  • ½–1 cup simple syrup (to your taste)
  • Vodka

Slice lemons thinly and discard the ends (these are very bitter). Add lemons and simple syrup to your cream whipper, then add vodka to cover the lemons.

M41_NitrogenCavitationStep-7 Screw the top onto the cream whipper and add the canister(s) of nitrous, following the manufacturer’s instructions to pressurize the whipper. Let sit 10–15 minutes.

Hold the whipper right-side up with a glass over the nozzle to catch any liquid, and release the pressure. Unscrew the top and strain. Enjoy.


 

Spiced Rum

  • 1″–2″ piece of fresh ginger, sliced thinly
  • 1 vanilla pod, split and scraped
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 star anise
  • 4 cardamom pods, crushed lightly
  • 2 cloves
  • ½ tsp nutmeg
  • Orange zest (use an unwaxed orange)
  • 1 cup simple syrup, still hot
  • Rum

Add spices and syrup to whipper and let sit 20–30 minutes. Add rum to fill whipper ¾ full. Screw the top on and add the nitrous. Let sit 10–15 minutes.

Hold whipper right-side up with a glass over the nozzle to catch any liquid and release the pressure. Unscrew the top and strain. Enjoy.


 

Nitro-Marinated Meats

Get overnight flavor and tenderness, right now.

Totally Tender Steak

Add about 8oz of meat to the whipper with your desired marinade. Small steaks will fit in a 1qt whipper. Larger steaks can be cut into strips or chunks. Screw the top on and add the nitrous. Let sit 15–20 minutes.

Hold the whipper up with a glass over the nozzle to catch any liquid, and release the pressure. Unscrew the top and pour into a bowl. Let the meat sit in the marinade 10–60 minutes, max. Cook as desired.

The cavitation method tenderized our steaks incredibly well. In a side-by-side test it was totally clear which steaks had been put through the whipper. I tested small sirloin portions about 1″×2½”×4″ — you get better flavor infusion when you have a lot of surface area — and they came out so tender that it seems a waste to use finer cuts of meat.

Paloma’s Favorite Marinade

  • ⅓ cup soy sauce
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 Tbsp dried basil
  • 1 Tbsp parsley, chopped
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes

Combine ingredients in whipper. Add nitrous. Enjoy.

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Paloma Fautley

Paloma Fautley

Paloma Fautley is an engineering intern at Make: Labs. She is currently pursuing a degree in robotics engineering and has a wide range of interests, from baking to pyrotechnics.


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