My First Centrifuge, and Somewhat-Clarified Tonic Syrup
September 04, 2014
I have had a centrifuge sitting on my Amazon.com wish list for a couple years, just waiting for me to get tipsy and reckless enough to hit the one-click button. Well, I finally bought it last week not because I was wet with sauce but because I could no longer contain my curiousity.
Plus, I had just finished reading the preview copy of Dave Arnold's forthcoming book and wanted to play with some of the techniques. (I'll post a full book review later.)
The centrifuge I bought is one recommended by Arnold for experiments and travel, the Ample Scientific Champion E-33 centrifuge. The thing is about the size and shape of a rice cooker. It's adorable!
Note to bartenders: It's not really practical for commercial applications. The total liquid volume (if using all 8 of the 15ml test tubes that it can hold) is only 4 ounces. Enough to play around with; absolutely. Enough to make clarified lime juice for your bar program? No way.
But I'm not producing mass volumes and it costs less than a juicer so I picked one up.
- Centrifuge $153
- 15 ml Test Tubes, pack of 300 $48
- Plastic Pipettes, pack of 100 $4
- Liquid Intelligence by Dave Arnold, $22 (out Nov 10)
Semi-Clarified Tonic Syrup
Centrifuges are used to separate liquids by weight - the heavier stuff spins to the bottom of the tube.
If you've ever made tonic water syrup from cinchona tree bark, you know that it usually comes as a silty powder that is very hard to filter out of your solution. (My method for getting as little of the bark into syrup is to put it in the coffee maker with several filters.) Still, filter all you want and there will still be bark floating in the syrup, somewhat settling out of solution in your bottle.
It was the perfect thing to clarify as I knew there was a good chance for success. Rather than make my own syrup to clarify, I used Small Hand Foods' Yeoman Tonic Syrup, which was specially developed to pair with Beefeater gin.
The centrifuge has a 30-minute timer and a good amount of the bark came out of solution after one 30-minute cycle. But I put it back in for several more anyway.
What came out was a solution that was sparkly transparent but still colored. It tasted bitter and citrusy (Small Hand Foods tonic syrup is more citrusy that other brands) but much less barky than the original. I'll call that a success.
In the images below, the syrup on the left is un-centrifuged and on the right is centrifuged syrup. Note at the bottom of the test tube you can see the bark stacked up.
Perhaps next time I'll centrifuge boiled cinchona bark on its own- just in water rather than a syrup- to see what happens.
That will surely be one of zillions of future experiments with my new toy. Fun fun fun!
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