As a former bartender, I love experimenting with cocktails at home. There’s less performance anxiety, and you’re not stuck pouring vodka sodas with cran all night long (sorry any vodka cran fans!).
One way I’ve been amping up my home mixology game is with my vacuum sealer—yes, really. And no, I’m not jumping on the 2022 trend of cocktails served in pouches (remember when that was a thing?). Instead, I use the Anova Chamber Vacuum Sealer to quickly infuse spirits, creating fun flavored bases on which to build a drink.
Infuse or Extract: How It Works
As I explained in my review of the Anova Chamber Vacuum Sealer, this style of vacuum sealer doesn’t suck the air out like other sealers. Instead, the chamber sealer uses pressure to remove air from inside the chamber. Once the pressure is released, the bag collapses around the food you’re sealing. But in addition to vacuum-sealing foods, the pressure chamber can also force liquids into foods or infuse liquid with flavor. According to Anova, this works because “when the air is pumped out of the chamber, it creates a vacuum of lower pressure inside the cavity—physically changing the cells within the food.” For example, if you wanted to infuse pineapple with rum (for a boozy party snack), the low pressure in the chamber pops the fruits’ cellular walls and when the vacuum is released, the rum rushes in to fill the void.
When you’re infusing a liquid with a flavor—say, vanilla beans—the moment the cellular walls break allows the flavor to be released into the liquid. Anova explains, “…the air escapes out of the food. This enables flavorful molecules to be extracted out of certain foods or infused into others—perfect for quickly extracting flavors from fruits or other flavorful foods and infusing them into your favorite oils or alcohols.”
One fun alcohol infusion I like to make is to toast a marshmallow and then infuse that into whiskey (caveat: cheap whiskey, no need to taint the good stuff)—yes, it sounds like something out of your college days, but when blended with some bright citrus and maybe a hint of dry sherry, you get a really fun mashup between a Sherry cobbler and a whiskey sour with an undercurrent of toasted mallow flavor.
How to Do It
Anova has some recipes for infusions (like rum-infused pineapple) but you can also inverse that formula and infuse spirits with all manner of ingredients, from lemon zest to coffee beans. Instead of putting them into a bag (as you would do when vacuum sealing), fill a wide-mouth half-pint jar about halfway with your spirit of choice (say, tequila) and add your infusing flavor, maybe a dried ancho chile. Place the open jar into the chamber vacuum sealer, close the lid, and press the infuse/extract button. You may have to run the cycle a few times to get the flavor fully infused, but it’ll still only take you a few minutes at most. Once it’s done, strain it through a fine mesh strainer into another mason jar. If you have infused spirit left over, store it in the fridge since, if left at room temperature, the food particles can make the alcohol taste stale after a while.
What is a chamber vacuum sealer?
A chamber vacuum sealer uses pressure to force air out of the chamber, before releasing the pressure. This pushes the air out of the bag, and vacuum seals the food inside. It can also be used to infuse and extract.
Are chamber vacuum sealers worth it?
While we like the Anova Precision Chamber Vacuum sealer and enjoy using it to infuse and extract in addition to vacuum sealing, it is more expensive than a traditional vacuum sealer. It’s also more restricted in terms of interior space, meaning it’s hard to seal larger pieces of food.
Why We’re the Experts
- Grace Kelly is the associate commerce editor at Serious Eats.
- Prior to this, she tested equipment and ingredients for America’s Test Kitchen. She’s also worked as a journalist and has done stints as a cook and bartender.
- She has reviewed dozens of products for Serious Eats, including petty knives, tinned fish, fish spatulas, and tortilla presses, among others.
- We previously reviewed the Anova Precision Chamber vacuum sealer, testing its ability to vacuum seal (and hold a seal) and infuse/compress. Since then, we’ve integrated it into our cooking routine, using it to vacuum seal as well as infuse.
- Separately, we reviewed 19 vacuum sealers, so we know a thing or two about the appliance.