Spin All the Things!

Visitors to the Belm Utility Research Kitchen, after seeing all of the gadgets and equipment, always ask “Is there anything else you need?” My answer is always the same: I’d like a chamber vacuum sealer and an ultracentrifuge. The former is within the realm of possibility (and budget), the latter remains a fantasy. Ultracentrifuges, even desktop models, cost thousands of dollars.

Then I heard about the Spinzall, the latest project from Dave Arnold at Booker and Dax, makers of the Searzall. It’s a tabletop centrifuge for culinary use and it had a reasonable pre-order price on Kickstarter. I passed at the time because I couldn’t afford it, but also because I didn’t think it handled sufficiently large enough volumes to make it useful.

Then a friend posted the results of his first Spinzall experiment Рclarified basil oil Рon Facebook, asking if anyone else wanted to give it a whirl. I had just the thing: two quarts of gazpacho that I had clarified via ice filtration. I froze a gallon of gazpacho, placed the solid block in a cheesecloth-lined fine mesh strainer in a fridge, then collected the runoff. (I had employed a similar technique to make kimchi consomm̩.) The results were clear, but I wanted to see how clear I could go.

The Spinzall was smaller than expected, about the size of a food processor. This is when I learned that it had a pump that allowed continuous batch clarification: clarified liquid overflows the spinning head and is collected from the surrounding chamber.

Before we could start spinning, we had to prep the clarified gazpacho. First we added Pectinex, an enzyme that breaks down the naturally occurring pectins found in fruits and vegetables that would keep the solution cloudy. Next we added Kieselsol, a solution of suspended silica, and finally Chitosan, a hydrocolloid. These last two ingredients are the same fining agents that are used to remove suspended solids from wine. My formerly clear gazpacho was now cloudy and blotchy, but ready to spin.

We fed tubing into the container and attached the other end to the Spinzall head.

It took a while for the rotor to fill, but then we could see clear product sheeting down the sides of the outer vessel.

We collected the runoff in clean containers. Note the foam created by the aeration generated by the rotor.

All of the particulates remained behind in the rotor.

Once the foam had settled, we had a final product that was much clearer than the starting solution.

From start to finish the process took about two hours, twice the time needed for an ultracentrifuge. The Spinzall was remarkably quiet – it hummed and throbbed as if it had been constructed using Krell technology.

What will I do with the clarified gazpacho? I’ll either serve it as is, or use it as an infusion for cocktails. But I’m already thinking of the next thing to spin: clarified bacon fat, anyone?

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