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.
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!