8.21.2008

Vacuum, a New Way of Life...




Most of us involved in professional cooking have been noticing and seeing a new world of cooking styles and techniques of various sorts and fashions since the eruption of Ferrin Adria and El Bulli. Freakin cool to say the least. And yet, there are many who scoff or see it in a negative view as bs, or simply unrealistic and playing with the food. Un-natural comes to mind for some of them. For me, I am fascinated and intrigued by the various techniques and styles, obscure new combinations or playful textures, and yet some of it, I admit, I have to scratch my head and ask why do they do that? Not for the sake of how did they, but why did they? I question that it does not make much sense, but I know that is why I must learn more about what they are doing. That is really a whole different story in and of itself, and for another time though. One of the new techniques we are seeing is the modern use of vacuum sealers. They are being used for far more than just sealing a bag of ingredients to keep it from spoiling. Compression is first up to bat. Our team has been experimenting with varying combinations of ingredients to infuse into other foods and testing the results. I think the methodry is cool, and the concept unique and inspiring, and yet, this is where I am having some difficulty jumping into bed with the concept, at least just yet. I do admit that the textural change is somewhat interesting, and there is definitely some noticeable extraction of flavors, but I have been marinating foodstuffs for years and have to say that I can achieve a very beautiful product without placing it in a vacuum sealer! I guess the jury is just still out on my new toy in that realm, but as with most things new, we just need to keep searching for the right application and result before we judge. The concept is that by compression, you are able to "suck in" the flavors of the liquids or infusions set in the bag with the item(s) you are looking to alter, thus changing it's appearance and flavor, yet still being able to call it a "melon". Do we need the vacuum sealer to achieve this? Perhaps. Time will tell. Sure is cool though. The other technique being applied and has been for years is the art of cooking sous vide. Using a vacuum sealer is definitely essential. We have used zip lock bags, but with only marginal success. Storage of food is probably the most logical and widely utilized application, and a great one hands down. Some other concepts are the ability to change texture and profile of foods by vacuum sealing them and allowing them to cool or heat in a different state. Chocolate piped into a bag under pressure from a charger turns out wild. Foams and purees with gelatin turn into interesting mixtures. Cookie doughs placed into the sealer to make them taste better or cook better, I just do not see any difference. I know there is still a universe of information out there yet to be unleashed. Science will most surely take us all on a new and interesting journey in the future, for that, I am certain.



4 Comments:

Blogger Cory said...

I really enjoyed coming and seeing how you operated in seattle. Playing with the cryovac machine was a lot of fun, hope the peaches turned out well. Sorry, i haven't emailed you yet. Been working everyday since i got back to Cleveland, hope all is well, take care.

10:30:00 PM  
Blogger Michael Walsh said...

Looks like quite the piece of technology that machine does! I've been looking to get my hands into the vacume sealing idea, but have yet to run into the right machinery. I've stood there at the store continplating whether or not to purchase the 'foodsaver' but I always walk away empty handed.

I'm working in a small operation, under 100 covers a night. Do you think one of those over the counter $100 foodsaver vacume sealers would be worth it just to get my feet wet? I've heard multiple times that bags are expensive, how expensive?

Thanks for your advice.

6:41:00 AM  
Blogger cuisinier said...

Hi Cory, thank you for your email, and for your time in Seattle at the club! Hope you enjoyed your stay in oour kitchen. The peaches did come out well. Still playing with them a bit. So, I found your global knife, but we are still looking for the other knife. Where did you put them? Dishwasher? leave it out? Hopefully, it will turn up soon. I will send the global now though. Keep in touch and rememebr what we talked about coming to Seattle if you think that is a good fit for you. Bill

4:03:00 PM  
Blogger cuisinier said...

Hi Michael, thanks for the comment...the foodsaver does work well for little things and does keep things sealed for storage, but for sous vide cooking and or vacuul sealing, it does not possess the strnegth or power to really get a good solid seal and pressure. We have used it many times in the past and with some good results, but now after using the vacuum sealer with a chamber in which to do so, it does not compare. Price is much more of a committment but it depends on what you are looking to do with it. I cna hook you up with some info if you are interested. Bill
PS- yes, bags do get expensive. Need to be careful on how loosely you are with them.

4:08:00 PM  

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