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Culinary Tech
February 26, 2013 12:10 PM   Subscribe

Polyscience is a company at the cutting edge of culinary technology. [Previously]
posted by lemuring (20 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
Real or serious ?

I'd hope it also comes with a really good cookbook or a chemistry degree. The vacuum extractor was stock lab equipment to pull a solvent out of something you made.. But the habanero example isn't clear -- what's he extracting and what's he discarding ? The distillate looks like water, and his comment about "all the aromatics, but you can drink it" makes sense *if* the aromatics and water are what evaporate first, and not the caspecin or other undesirables.

Thus, need a really good cook book to know what you want to extract, what comes out first/second/third at some given temp .. (I mean, if moonshiners got you blind, whats to say this tech is easier than distilling moonshine.. )
posted by k5.user at 12:22 PM on February 26, 2013


Real and serious, I suppose.
It's certainly more complicated than using a microwave, and it requires careful maintenance, but it's not rocket science. Instructions can be found here. The description of the device and recipes are found on Polyscience's website.
posted by lemuring at 12:31 PM on February 26, 2013


I have their Creative series sous vide circulator and it's fantastic. Previously we wore out an ica sidekic before that, and the polyscience is an amazing step up in terms of speed, stability and sturdiness.

I'd like one of the smoking guns but I can't figure out a justification..
posted by Lord_Pall at 12:34 PM on February 26, 2013


The distillate looks like water, and his comment about "all the aromatics, but you can drink it" makes sense *if* the aromatics and water are what evaporate first...

The aromatics are volatile. That's why you can smell them. Capsaicin boils at a higher temperature than water (about 220 ºC).
posted by mr_roboto at 12:37 PM on February 26, 2013


Polyscience is one of the go-to sources for professional equipment for molecular gastronomy. This has been the case for many years. It's not a shock considering those with lab experience know the brand from the lab and just went to them to buy lab equipment that they used in the kitchen and kitchen labs. If you've ever heard of sous vide, you've probably heard of it in the context of a vac bagged item cooked in an immersion circulator.

If you've been around food science at all, you'll notice that it's very similar to any other chemistry lab because that's what it is. Some of the research ends up in Cheetos, some ends up being served by Joel Robuchon, one of the most highly regarded chefs in the world.

Lord_Pall - Polyscience now has a smoke gun through Williams Sonoma for a hundred bucks that looks mighty interesting for the home cook.
posted by Muddler at 12:38 PM on February 26, 2013


I prefer my sous vide rig of a PID with a bucket heater at less than half the price of their cheapest unit. I've successfully maintained temperature on 200 lbs of water in a huge tail gating cooler for group events.
posted by Tanizaki at 1:03 PM on February 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Those are expensive rotovaps. I just bought a couple from Buchi for quite a bit less.
posted by bonehead at 1:13 PM on February 26, 2013


PolyScience Smoking Gun & Classic Smoking Wood Bundle
posted by slogger at 1:50 PM on February 26, 2013


bonehead, if you know where discount rotovaps can be found, I am all ears!
posted by slkinsey at 2:11 PM on February 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Those are expensive rotovaps.

Yep. And the Sonicprep is an expensive probe sonicator, and the Anti-griddle is an expensive thermoelectric cold plate. Here I thought Thermo Fischer was overpriced.

Do you think they also sell an overpriced rodent induction chamber? Because if so, I can whip you up a dynamite murine brain masala with sweet mango chutney.
posted by dephlogisticated at 2:19 PM on February 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Even going through Fisher, the Buchi RIIs are less than $5k. It's their most basic system, but we've had similar Buchis last for 15 years or more. They are beasts, one of the best values in lab equipment going, IMO. I can't tell if the Polyscience system is complete at that price but a basic vac pump and a small chiller aren't going to be even close to the other $5k they want.
posted by bonehead at 2:29 PM on February 26, 2013


The suite of high-tech devices I would be most tempted by would be a liquid nitrogen generator; a relatively small and highly efficient freezer capable of holding LN2 frozen items below the point at which ice crystals grow; and some form of microwave and radiant flash heater which could heat those items up to room temperature too fast for ice crystals to grow enough to unduly disrupt the cellular structures of foods.

Then it really would be the eternal summer of the locavores--paradoxically, considering all that cryogenicity.

If only the boiling point of nitrogen was higher than oxygen's, rather than 13°K lower, the first would be a snap. I already have a medical oxygen concentrator (about the size and shape of a large portable air conditioner), and I suppose I could tweak the thermostat down to make liquid air, but I'm a little afraid of liquid oxygen even mixed with 80% nitrogen.
posted by jamjam at 2:44 PM on February 26, 2013


agreed -- I've looked at what it takes to get a dewar and some lN2 -- doesn't seem like much, find a local welding place and what not.. But then the local strawberry farm's prices have gone up so much for pick-your-own that I can't justify doing it ..

Not sure what else would benefit as much from flash freezing -- maybe if I were more of a fisherman ? Strawberries were my only "man I want to freeze these and not get mush when they thaw" item.
posted by k5.user at 3:10 PM on February 26, 2013


I've always been amused by the "Office LN2 generator" by Elan/MMR. What every office needs beside the water cooler! Just be careful drinking that first cup of the day.
posted by bonehead at 3:15 PM on February 26, 2013


I don't know of any way to protect large chunks of tissue from ice damage that does not involve soaking them in cryoprotectants like DMSO—and trust me, you don't want the taste of that in your food.

As for cold storage, LN2 is pretty cheap to buy. We used to order water-heater-sized dewars of it for about $80. I bet it's cheaper to refill a LN2 storage tank once a month than to run a -86°C freezer for the same length of time. Quieter too.
posted by dephlogisticated at 3:30 PM on February 26, 2013


i made my own sous vide machine for about $180, here's the latest iteration
posted by Mach5 at 4:07 PM on February 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


You can do all kinds of sous vide machines on your own, but there is usually a big tradeoff. First, the polyscience machine is extremely precise and steady in comparison to what most people build. If you don't circulate your water, you're not going to get precision no matter how hard you try. If you're just cooking meat to a temperature in a range, it's fine, but some techniques need very precise and steady heat. In many people's rigs you also are limited to a specific bath and the rig is hard to store, move, etc. The polyscience rig fits on nearly anything that holds water, can warm a huge volume and keep it steady forever, and stores in a very small space. So, I think if you have the money, it's about perfect.

I've toyed with setting up my own lab equipment variants of what is sold, but you have to remember that this needs to be FOOD SAFE. Used equipment is very sketchy, even that which is not intended to come in contact with food. A bag could leak, you could transfer things with your hands, etc. So, you have to be very careful.

For a vac sealer, you can go much less expensive for a great unit. Check out the vacmaster meant for home use.

The sonicator...cringe...spent too many days in front of one in a little closet with a pair of protective ear covers. When you include the protective sound isolating box and the rest of the included bits, polysci's price is pretty much in keeping with say fisher.
posted by Muddler at 4:32 PM on February 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


muddler, my own machine is portable and precise within ~1C (soon to be more when i upgrade the thermoprobe), just as good as that polyscience. it circulates too, though i did have to upgrade my pump when the cheapo aquarium one melted and died at 175F, replacement is good up to 100C.

also, the food safeness of the container is irrelevant as your food is vacuum sealed. i would, however, clean any dodgy lab equipment thoroughly. i use a foodsaver but i did also have luck just immersing a freezer bag in water and pushing all the air out.
posted by Mach5 at 4:46 PM on February 26, 2013


First, the polyscience machine is extremely precise and steady in comparison to what most people build. If you don't circulate your water, you're not going to get precision no matter how hard you try. If you're just cooking meat to a temperature in a range, it's fine, but some techniques need very precise and steady heat. In many people's rigs you also are limited to a specific bath and the rig is hard to store, move, etc. The polyscience rig fits on nearly anything that holds water, can warm a huge volume and keep it steady forever, and stores in a very small space. So, I think if you have the money, it's about perfect.

My PID keeps temperature precision within the same precision advertised by the $1100 SVP Classic, which has a maximum capacity of 8 gallons with 120 volts. I've maintained 180 F in 25 gallons of water. Water circulation is easy with an air pump and air stone from the local pet store. Since it is just a PID and a heating element, I have used it in pots of a few quarts to 150 quart coolers.

Money is not a problem I have, but I see no point in paying $1100 (or even $500) when I can put together a superior product for a bit over $200. (my rig looks very similar to Mach5's)
posted by Tanizaki at 6:02 PM on February 26, 2013


I have a Poly Science SV Pro and a home PID rig with a 1500W heater and airstone I've used both quite extensively. I had the home rig and used it heavily for a coupla years before buying the Poly Science.

I use the Poly Science daily, and it is a pleasure to use and operate. I have no idea if it is "worth" the extra money (value is a personal and variable thing), but I certainly love mine. I use the home-grown PID rig for long cooks in a insulated container (aka beer cooler). It also works extremely well, but does have more wires, etc. I've also had 3 probe failures (about one every year and a half or so), a power-outlet failure (it melted) and a power input failure (it also melted); mostly due to cheap-assed connectors. I've repaired it each time and it keeps going. One of these days I'm going to add a stand and permanently attach all the bits and add some wireless data logging to keep an eye on it.

They both have their place and usability/cost issues. YMMV on what works best for you. To be honest, I keep eyeing a third set-up, esp with remote start/setting so I can fire it up from work.

I also have a smoking gun. It is fun, and can definitely add something to the food, but i've never found it invaluable or anything. A good toy.
posted by Bovine Love at 7:15 AM on February 27, 2013


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