Upon recently moving into a new place, I discovered one major fact of life. IT IS EXTREMELY HARD TO TAKE APART AND/OR PUT [BACK] TOGETHER ANYTHING FROM IKEA WITHOUT THE PROPER TOOLS. On top of that, clever Ikea makes near all their components only compatible with their in-house/box tools. So as much as you will it to be so, a flathead screw driver simply will not move an Ikea screw that requires an Allen wrench/hex key. I digress… breath. This same idea can be applied to anything in life. Having the right tools always makes the job easier.
Infusing is no different. The proper tools are needed to complete the job. To keep it plain and simple, here is a list of the necessary tools:
- Air-tight Container
- Straining/Filtration element
In 1858, a Philadelphia tinsmith named John Landis Mason came up with an ingenious idea that would become a staple of the canning industry for many years to come. Today this product has fallen out of favor with commercial canning but is still popular among home canners and has become a very popular tool for infusions of all kinds. While the Mason jar is not necessary for infusions, it has become popular due to its ease of acquirement, its old-time feel, and its air-tight seal. It is this air-tight seal that is the most important factor to picking a proper infusion container.
Another popular choice, often for larger batch infusions, is the infusion jar. Think of it as a specially designed glass cooler for infusions. It creates an air-tight seal at the top and has a spigot at the bottom to strain, or pour, the infusion when it is ready for use. This has become a very popular vessel at bars as it allows guest to see the infusions as well as bartenders to pour off and properly measure for any specialty drinks they are making with the infusion.
A good set of knives are every chef’s best friend. More and more this statement is becoming true of bartenders/mixologist as well. From fruit preparation to extravagant garnishes, a good set of small ware cutlery can make a world of difference. A sturdy paring knife should be one’s side kick when it comes to infusions, especially since fruits and vegetables often have to be sliced, diced, cut to pieces or separated from their skin/pith. As always, a top of the line bionic voice activated robo-knife isn’t necessary, but I’d spring for something a little better than your kitchen drawer butter knife. (below is the actual knife I use)
Unless infusing peanut brittle, it is wise to note that foods (especially fruits and vegetables) spoil. Leaving your infusiant in the infusing liquid too long runs the risk of allowing a spoiled element to not only contaminate the product, but compromise the taste. This is where straining/filtering comes in. Separating the almost non-expiration distilled liquid from the perishable solids prolongs the usability of the infusion as well as helps to preserve the flavor. I’m sure we all remember vacuum/suction filtration from chemistry lab, however, most home Infusiast don’t have the money for such a set-up and/or the access to a chemistry lab. (If you do, I know a PayPal account that would be glad to benefit from said funds.) More common tools in this instance are mesh strainers, cheesecloth, jelly bags or coffee filters (in ascending order of filtration quality). Pouring your infusion through them uses gravity to separate the liquid from the solid via a network of minute holes that allow liquid to pass but not solids. Smaller holes equal better separation, but they also take more time. My personal method is to stick a coffee filter inside my mesh strainer and strain that way. It allows for a good filter and gives my coffee filter a place to rest while the liquid strains through.
The last major tool need for any infusion is YOU. Someone has to do the work. Someone has to taste the product. Someone has to enjoy the fruits (pun intended) of labor. Of course you can always enlist the help of friends when it comes to consumption, but if your friends are like mine they would hate to be bothered over a free drink or 5…