What is the Nitrous Oxide/C02 infuser?

The No2 infuser

The No2 infuser

What is the Nitrous Oxide/CO2 infuser?

Just a month ago I got a new bit of kit, a Nitrous Oxide (laughing gas) infuser. It uses both Co2 and Nitrous Oxide canisters and it makes infusions in minutes rather than days or even months. Imagine, sloe gin in 300 seconds!  It has been a bit of godsend considering I’m currently experimenting with wild cocktails. Not to mention the fact that it ensures a ready supply of tasty booze for my wild booze walks.

I was first alerted to the infuser by fellow forager and taste explorer Mark Williams.  Mark, like myself is also making wild booze cocktails and so needs a ready supply of infused booze. The infuser itself came from Creamsupplies.co.uk and for the sake of transparency I have to admit that I didn’t pay for it. I’d also like to add that I don’t make any money from any that they sell.

What is the Nitrous Oxide/CO2 infuser?

The infuser is a stainless steel airtight container capable of withstanding high pressures. The top screws on and then a chamber screws into the top. The chamber is capable of housing and administering Carbon dioxide or Nitrous oxide canisters into the contianer.

How does the Nitrous Oxide/CO2 infuser infuse?

You put your fruit or herb inside the container, then pour in whatever liquid you want to infuse. Next you screw on the top, creating a sealed environment. Then you screw in the gas canister releasing the gas inside chamber.

When the gas is fired into the chamber it creates pressure. This forces whatever liquid you have put in it into the herbs, spices or fruit that are inside the chamber. When the gas is released the liquid rushes out, infused with whatever flavour it has picked up. If using CO2 this means you will also have a carbonated drink, but if using Nitrous Oxide you won’t but you will have flavoured it.

Does it work?

I’ve found some mixed results. It does infuse flavour, but sometimes these are weaker than others. I didn’t find it to handle granulated sugar very well, leaving much of the sugar undissolved. There is a get around, and I’ve started using agave syrup or making a sugar solution. It wasn’t great with thicker skinned fruits like apples or plums. Again a work around was needed and putting the fruit in the freezer overnight, then thawing really helped. This is exactly how I make sloe gin infusions anyway so there was no real difference there.

The Nitrous Oxide works on herbs very well, just two sage leaves in one litre of water gave a rather pronounced taste. Wine infusions were great using this method too and you could really taste the herbs.

Having poked around to see what others were doing I thought I’d have a go at making cocktails bitters using the infuser. They sort of worked, but I think the barks and roots didn’t take as well at they could and the medley of bitterness you are after just wasn’t there. Again, it’s obvious why, the harder the outside of the thing you are infusing the harder it will be to release the aromatics.

Conclusion

I certainly enjoy using this bit of kit and I think it will come into its own next year as there will be more flowers and herbs to play with than in the depths of winter. The CO2 infusions are fun and it’s a great way to make quick fizzy drinks from herbs and edible flowers. The Nitrous Oxide infusions are certainly quick and they often have a slight sweet taste from the nitrous oxide. They might not be quite as strong as the age old method of pouring booze over a herb/fruit in a jar and waiting but they are a close enough approximation. I’m sure, given time, that there will be work arounds. Just like any new tool you need to get to know how to use it and that is exactly what I intend to do. Watch this space!

Over to you

Have you been making infusions with one of these? If so then please do post your results, especially if they are contradictory to mine!

Andy Hamilton

Brewer, forager, broadcaster, spaceman occasional liar

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7 Responses

  1. Terry Marshall says:

    I could hardly wait to get and try the nitrous oxide diffuser after reading the account in the Telegraph.
    Having sloes in the freezer, I proceeded with them in the way you described. I was left with barely coloured sugary alcohol, with not even a trace of sloe flavour or colour.
    Undeterred, I put in a third canister of nitrous oxide, and left it for 20 hours.
    It made no difference.
    As far as I can see, the fizz is a swizz!

  2. … I awoke this morning thinking about this one.. sad I know Terry. But lastly, are you certain you are using Nitrous oxide and not carbon dioxide? I’m saying this as you say “the Fizz” is a swizz. There is not that much fizz with the Nitrous oxide.

  3. Terry Marshall says:

    I cannot get the Flash plugin to stop crashing on my computer, so I have had to look at the video elsewhere, thus the delay in replying.
    I will address the points you raise.
    To start with, I used the standard proportions of gin, sloes and sugar,
    (1L, 450 grams, 125 grams). The actual amount I put in did not fill it, so for the 3rd gas cylinder, I added extra sloes, over twice the usual amount.
    Yes, it was the infuser shown.
    I did not prick the sloes for the first effort, but did for the re-do. As far as I can see, you did not prick them. I have now, after the tedious filtering, tried it, and it is hopeless, hardly any sloe flavour at all.

  4. Terry Marshall says:

    Yes, I used nitrous oxide, the cream 24 as sold by the cream site from which I bought the diffuser.
    (They sell 2 sorts of nitrous oxide, but try as I may, I could get no idea of the difference between them, apart from price).
    The bubbles were minute. I tipped it all out into a jug so as to see what was happening better, and it continued to fizz for several minutes, very fine, as you suggest.
    Two more asides:
    I was disappointed to see no “Instructions for use” either on the site or in the package, apart from the mechanical instructions (fill it, charge it etc.).
    Secondly, I found a bumper crop of sloes 3 years ago, and picked so many that I decided to juice them with a steam extractor. This was brilliant, and produced the best sloe gin yet.

    I shall try the diffuser again next year, but as you can tell, I am sure, I am underwhelmed by the method so far.

    • Well, the plot thickens! I have to say I’m quite new to using the infuser and all I can do is repeat that it worked for me. Did you shake it? Perhpas that’s the last varible I can think of. Or even temperature, I spoke to scientist about this and although it wasn’t his field he said, “I suspect other gases or low boiling point liquids would also be useful in accelerated sloe gin preparation such as dimethyl ether or supercritical carbon dioxide”. But, that’s really an aside too.

      I hear you about the instructions. There were some on the website I noticed, but none when it arrived. I’d read around considerably before using so I guess I’d not really paid that much attention. Perhaps something you could take up with the company?

      I’d not heard of the steam juicer and have since looked around and well, it looks Terry as if you have sparked my interest in another gadget.

      As for the pricking, nope I never do I froze them and thawed them, actually I may have done that twice as my toddler switched off the freezer a while back. I did experiment earlier with some bigger victoria plums and got similar results as you suggest. I’m sure you know what you are picking and don’t wish to question that: but perhaps they were bullaces or damsons and not sloes?

      Anyway, thanks for sharing I’m sure it’s as helpful to my visitors as it is for me to hear the results when they don’t work as well as when they do! I’m rather gutted for you that you obviously wasted some sloes and some gin!

  5. Hi,
    We are the importer of the Soda Plus carbonator and infuser which Andy used to create the instant sloe gin. Not sure what people are doing wrong here – we use it all the time and its really easy to use. The website has detailed instructions on it:
    http://www.creamsupplies.co.uk/soda-plus-carbonator-infuser-1-2l-/prod_6932.html?category=3485
    Infusing is actually our idea – Mosa the manufacturer – are marketing it as a carbonator but we think the potential for infusing is much more interesting.. and fun!

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