Not long ago, I poured a jar of fancy whipping cream to the gadget that I was reviewing, started it up and watched in amazement as the machine’s rotor started turning quickly, making a vertical wall of solidified milk that remained in place after the machine wound down.
“Behold,” I exclaimed as my wife Elisabeth passed through the kitchen. “I made butter in a centrifuge!”
“Wow,” she said with a tone which foretold bubble bursting. “Did they run out of butter in the store?”
Booker and Dax Spinzall
A centrifuge for your kitchen! The Spinzall efficiently does things like explain fruit juices, make butter, produce plant oils that are clear.
A centrifuge for your kitchen? It won’t ever make most peoples’ list of needs, particularly when it costs $800 and you will find different ways to create lots of the items it makes. Additionally, the production version we tested had a disconcerting flaw.
The centrifuge, known as the Spinzall, was made by culinary magician and bartender extraordinaire Dave Arnold, the identical guy who brought the Searzall to life. Dave’s newest contraption is an $800 hulking black appliance that, using a set of tubes jutting up from the trunk, seems like the progeny of a top notch food processor crossed with a beer hat.
Certainly Elisabeth was only missing the machine’s potential. Together with butter, centrifuges can be used to describe juices, produce transparent herb oils, and make nut milks and even ultra-smooth baby foods.
I spun it up again, this time to whir up bartender Jamie Boudreau’s recipe for explained Clamato juice, then blended it with a Pacifico and lime juice to produce an elegant, described michlelada.
“Mmm,” said Elisabeth, “nearly like the one we had in Guadalajara.”
Was she doing this on purpose?
“You’re upstairs for a few hours. Was that all that time merely to make the 1 ingredient?”
I pretended to not hear her and, undeterred, I went into the store and purchased 40 limes.
Lime juice, especially the clarification of it by eliminating all of the solid particles, has been something of a holy grail for Dave Arnold for ages.
“Why clarify? Why breathe?” Arnold requested in his fantastic 2014 bartending book, Liquid Intelligence.
Arnold and other high-end bartenders like clarification since the resulting juice looks amazing by itself, bringing that transparency to any cocktail you make with this. Solids from the carbonation process gunk up the works, creating unwanted places for bubbles to form known as nucleation websites. Normal lime juice is filled with these. Eliminate them through clarification and you’re able to carbonate the carrot juice and wind up getting a fizzier drink.
Reading over the explained lime juice recipe at the Spinzall guide, I noticed that I had bottles of Pectinex, kieselsol, and chitosan (an enzyme, suspended silica, and a hydrocolloid, respectively). I realized I would also need pipettes to measure them out, so I drove to Seattle’s Scientific Supply amp; Equipment, who, because they only sold them in lots of 100, gave me a few samples (thanks, guys!) , and, inexplicably, even threw a few doob tubes from the bag.
Right around this time, I called a chef buddy with high-end restaurant pedigree to inquire about clarifying juice and he asked if I was “doing it with agar.”
Here I asked for a different sort of clarification.
“Dude! Centrifuges are slow, especially once you want to earn a good deal of juice. Simply use agar-agar and cheesecloth,” he said. “Works just too.”
This was news to me, so I hung up, appeared agar (aka agar-agar, a gelatinous material made from seaweed), then Googled “agar-agar clarification” and the first few outcomes that came up were by Spinzall founder Dave Arnold.
The first one, a 2009 article called “Agar Clarification Made Stupid Simple: Greatest Technique Yet” featured this line: “Not only do you not need a centrifuge, you do not want the bag and you do not want the vacuum” to that Arnold’s site commentator “–SK–” responded, “Jesus H. Tapdancing Christ, can this day get any better???”
After I read the centrifuge founder creating a case for no centrifuges, my day surely got more interesting.
I took some screen shots, decided it was time to get a head-to-head evaluation that included making a liter of juice every process, and went into the store to purchase some agar and 40 more limes.
But There is a Twist
The Spinzall includes two modes: batch mode, where you simply fill up the rotor to the fill line (480 ml), get it running, and pour off the liquid and scoop out whatever is in there once you are done. Continuous mode utilizes those tubes at the back; place one in the liquid you want to clarify and another along with this Spinzall’s bowl, which pushes the liquid to the rotor nestled inside of it. When the rotor fills, clarified juice sprays out on the sides of the bowl, which makes it appear to be a tempest in a terrarium, the finished product pouring from a spout.
I quickly learned that for the Spinzall method, I had to pre-treat the juice, getting it to do what Arnold calls “break,” a type of pre-separation of this liquid, clearer over and cloudy below.
To perform it, I got out the pipettes, included a couple of milliliters of Pectinex and kieselsol into the lime juice, waited 15 minutes, added some chitosan, waited 15 minutes, additional more kieselsol, and waited about 15 more minutes before the “break” appeared. After that, I ran it through on constant mode to find the clarified juice.
While I waited for the Pectinex to do its thing, I followed Arnold’s 2009 agar-agar method with another liter of juice hydrating the agar in a little bit of boiling water, then whisking it in the lime juice and placing it over an ice bath. Shortly after, the liquid had put up like Jell-o. I whisked it to break it up a bit, squeezed it through the cheesecloth, and–voila! –had explained lime juice. The process was a small mess, but got the job done easily.
After following the instructions for the two approaches to the letter, I poured the juices that were clarified for each into fitting drinking glasses and place them on a sunny porch railing. To my amazement, while neither was perfectly clear, the clarified juice made with the agar agar (no centrifuge) was especially clearer. The glass on the left, (agar), had less cloudiness to it. I revealed Elisabeth, holding palms behind every glass, and again, it was easy to find the amount of hands (3) I held behind the agar-method glass. As you could see something was supporting the centrifuge-method glass, it was not, um, clear, how many fingers were back there. As I walked away, she asked, “How many hours did this fixing take you?”
To recap: I used a fining agent, a “specialty receptor” (double), and a hydrocolloid chitosan, (all of which may be reordered from a specialty shop, some with Arnold’s “Booker and Dax” logo on them, for between $9 and $20 each), a few pipettes (free doob tube!) , and an $800 centrifuge to create an inferior version of a liquid which, in an old recipe from the same writer, might be produced with a spoonful, some cheese cloth, and the merchandise of seaweed which I bought in a grocery store down the block for $9.
Matters Take a Turn
Maybe Arnold gets better outcomes, and that is why he believes that using a Spinzall is a superior method. However, for me, while I’m sure I would get slightly better results with time, this type of thing kept happening. One of the suggested Spinzall recipes is turning yogurt to labneh (a thick, spreadable yogurt) by turning a bit of its whey, exactly like the butter-making procedure. This rang a small bell and I got out Anissa Helou’s publication Levant and found her recipe for labneh that follows convention and only strains the yogurt overnight in a cheesecloth for the identical outcome.
That identical little bell rang once I saw the recipe for making herb oils, where you whiz parsley in a high speed blender, then twist it in the centrifuge, including water in the end which cleverly divides the flavored oil to the bowl. This one reminded me of the cookbook I wrote with chef Blaine Wetzel, in which you combine the herbs in a high-speed blender with hot oil and let it strain overnight in cheesecloth.
Dutifully, I left the labneh and spun up some basil oil, and they were yummy but the machine had a hiccup while I was making the oil where the lid flowed toward the open position while it was running. I could not get it to start any further, but it no longer felt completely protected, which can be disconcerting when the rotor below continued to spin off at 4,000 rpm. Not really thinking, I just twisted it shut while the machine ran. Only then did I wonder why it began if the lid was not secure or closed down if it began to start while running?
Spare the Spin
While Dave Arnold has been progressing the cooking and bartending areas for years, I am not sure that the Spinzall does, at least not for home cooks. Read Liquid Intelligence and you will see the line “centrifuges would be the wave of the juice future” and understand that his heart is in the perfect location.
Having said that, there is also a line in there, which states, “If you squeeze lime into a gin and tonic, you see instant frothing and bubbling. Unacceptable!” Problem is, most men and women squeeze a lime to a Gamp;T and, far from seeing it as improper, they get giddy.
The Spinzall certainly has some neat tricks up its sleeve. It may solve a problem or two for owners of pubs (a bigger bar would require several machines) or make for great entertainment for meals nerds who like to throw parties and have $800 to blow. For the most part, however, it is tough to justify awarding it a space on your counter.
When you buy something using the retail links in our product reviews, we make a small affiliate commission. Read more about how this works.