The idea is that by putting the liquid under pressure, the flavor will infuse faster. It makes perfect sense. It's like putting your meat into a vacuum-sealed container to marinate faster.
It is, however, a non-compliant use of the device, so if you blow yourself up (probably not very likely) or spray booze onto the kitchen ceiling (significantly more likely) don't blame me.
Now, reading something on a site and remembering it exactly are two different things. And this is where the fun begins.
I began my experiment into mad-scientist-land by putting 2 cups of vodka into my cream whipper. I added 3 vanilla beans (split open), 3 allspice berries, and a 3-inch cinnamon stick. I pressurized the canister, tapped my toe a few times nervously, and paced back and forth.
Then I released the pressure. Now, when you're using this thing to make whipped cream, you hold it with the nozzle down so the cream comes out. Nozzle up, and it just released pressure. Nothing to it.
I opened it up, poured out the liquid, and what I had was a clear liquid that might have tasted vaguely of something, but it wasn't really what I was looking for. I wanted significantly more. Okay, time for Plan B. I figured that I hadn't let it rest long enough.
The folks at Marx Foods say they swirl the liquid for 30 seconds, then let it sit for 30. But, yeah, I didn't remember that until after. Well, actually, I didn't "remember" until I emailed and said, "so, that flash infusing thing..."
So Plan B was to pressurize the container and let it sit for 15 minutes or so. I figured that the longer I let it sit, the more flavor would develop. Logical, no?
About 3 hours later (I get distracted, okay?) I remembered that the canister was still sitting there, waiting for me to do something. So okay, I released the pressure and it all was going well until some liquid shot out. You know, like onto the ceiling. It wasn't a lot, but I decided to not risk shooting booze all over the place, so I stuck the nozzle of the cream whipper into a now-empty vodka bottle, and finished releasing the pressure. I have no idea why it spewed like that, but it was amusing, in a stupid sit-com sort of way..
In theory, if the canister us upright, it shouldn't do that. Theories are good. Vodka on the ceiling, not so optimal.
When I dumped out all the liquid, it was an amber color. The allspice berries were a little soft. Not mushy, but you could squeeze them and they had some give. The cinnamon was also soft. Not squishy, but no longer crunchy. Now, this is what I'm talking about. Infused booze.
Flavor-wise, I don't think I added enough allspice berries to make any difference at all. The prominent flavor is vanilla, with bare hints of spice from the cinnamon. A nice flavor. But I think the key here is that softer items will yield to the pressure faster than the hard items like the allspice. I think flash-infusing with citrus peels would be interesting, as would herbal infusions.
Not too much doubt I'll be trying that next.
My other projects - and believe me, I've got bottles all over the place with things floating - are all about long-infused booze with sugar. Liqueurs rather than flavored liquor. This is a flavored vodka, pure and simple. It will make a lovely cocktail. Maybe even later tonight.
Next time, I think I'll try a slightly shorter time before I release pressure. Maybe the 10 minutes I had planned on. Or I'll try the 30-second swirl followed by the 30-second wait. At the worst, it just means that I have to use a second blast of nitrous if it doesn't work the first time.
Flash-Infused Vanilla Vodka
2 cups vodka
3 vanilla beans, split
1 3-inch stick of cinnamon
Place all the ingredients into a 1-pint cream whipper. Charge with nitrous. Swirl it around for about 30 seconds. Wait another 30 seconds - or longer, if you prefer.
Discharge the gas with the canister upright, keeping in mind that you could possibly blast some vodka out - so prepare for that.
After the gas is fully discharged, strain the liquid to remove the spices.
I tend to re-use spent vanilla beans, usually by rinsing them if needed, and then putting them in a jar with sugar. The sugar absorbs the vanilla scent. It's not strong stuff, but it's not plain sugar, either.