Centrifuges, devices that spin matter at incredibly high speeds, are commonplace in research labs and hospitals all across the planet, but now they’re starting to pop-up in high-end restaurants as well. Centrifuges have been around since the late 1800s, but it hasn’t been until very recently that high-end restaurants have started using them, and the results are incredible. Chefs in some of the best restaurants are using the devices to create incredibly potent oil and liquid extracts that are not only delicious, but also truly unique in texture and taste. However, while centrifuges might be new to the high-end dining scene, they’ve been used in industrial food production for quite a while.
Decanter centrifuges, large pieces of industrial equipment that are able to process large amounts of matter, has been used in various industries for decades. These heavy pieces of equipment are essential tools in waste management, chemical, and food processing. It’s hard to think of another piece of equipment that is used in so many radically different industries.
Most people aren’t even aware that many products they consume have been spun at incredible speeds that achieve far greater forces than earth’s natural gravity. Food products, such as most oils like canola and grapeseed oil, fermented alcoholic beverages, and juices without pulp, have been processed inside these large industrial centrifuges.
Well, the price of small-scale centrifuges, and some critical problems that we’ll explore below have been prohibitively expensive for restaurant kitchens in the past, the technology behind centrifuges has gotten significantly better in recent years. In order for centrifuges to be effective in creating delicious extracts and oils, they need to function at high speeds for a short time. Using lower speeds at longer times results in extracts and oils that are cloudy and tinged with a metallic taste. Older centrifuges are also incredibly dangerous pieces of equipment that could explode like a bomb at any minute. The rotors undergo so much force that they only have a finite amount of time until the equipment fails, and in some cases, this can result in the casing and motor flying apart. For these reasons and the insane cost attached to the equipment, this piece of equipment hasn’t been available to commercial kitchens until recently.
More recently, chefs have gotten their hands on smaller, safer, and cheaper centrifuges that produce wondrous results. By putting vegetable purees into a centrifuge, chefs can create incredibly potent oils in minutes that would’ve taken days to produce in the past. The incredible forces that the food is put under separates all liquid and oil out of solid food matter, and whether it’s spicy chili oil or a sweet banana cream, the liquids produced are both clear and provide an incredibly intense flavor.
Technology is creating a world full of wonders, and it’s extremely exciting to see how creative chefs are using emerging technologies to create culinary delights that were simply unavailable in the past.