Monday, August 3, 2009

The Volcano Vaporizer - part 1

The most innocent use for this machine is to release flavors and the aroma particles from a given ingredient through vaporization through hot air. I say innocent because it is used to release the flavors and aromas of ingredients like herbs... most dried herbs (wink wink... get it?... no? alright). Vaporization is an alternative to combustion: combustion is what happens when you use a smoker... which is fine, if you are going for the smoky flavor in your food. I have an aberration for smoke in desserts. But its use is not limited to just herbs and not just to release flavors and aromas. For example, in the video above we used vanilla powder to infuse tequila. The entire process is ridiculously simple and it doesn't take very long. Almost anything dry can be used in the vaporizer (spices, lavender, cocoa nibs).
You can see the machines specs and uses here:
The first attempt was with a regular plastic hose, which melted rather quickly once the machine got going. I purchased a heat resistant rubber hose and that seemed to do the trick. To operate the vaporizer, you turn the heating element on and set it to the desired temperature, and then you turn the fan on. This forces the hot air through the desired ingredient and the aroma and thus flavor particles pass through the hose and into the final destination. Tequila in the above case.
But it also opened another whole stack of possibilities for our boxed desserts. Most of our desserts are displayed in these recyclable (and re-usable) plastic boxes to ensure freshness and to reduce packaging... but also, if we fill the box with vanilla particles it would keep them in place, saturating the dessert components. For example, in the video below, we filled the box we use for our peaches and cream dessert with Tahitian vanilla particles. The flavor clings on the components and stays in the box for more than a day, so when you open the box you get hit in the face with a vanilla fist.
This can also open possibilities for experimenting with the effect of aroma on desserts. What if we used clove instead of vanilla for another dessert identical to peaches and cream? I obviously know that they would be different, but it is fascinating how aroma can influence the perception of a dessert, even though its basic components are the same... they smell different and that changes everything.
Oh, the catch is the cost of the vaporizer. I won't say what it is here... you'll have to find out on your own.


  1. Great site you got here.
    Unfortunately Volcanos are very pricey there are definitely alternatives out there which cost half to less than 1/3 of the Volcano. You'll have to look for a "bag type" vaporizer to use it as an aroma infuser.

  2. I had never thought about using a volcano for anything that wasn't not exactly legal, but now I'm so excited to try it out. How were you able to infuse the vodka? Was it as simple as putting the vapor in the boxed desserts?