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Kitchen Toys: iSi siphons and vacuum sealers [Updated]

April 27, 2011 | 12:05 pm

Siphon sealer

This week's introductory Master Class series, featuring recipes and techniques from chef Thomas Keller (French Laundry, Ad Hoc, Per Se and Bouchon Bistro) may call for a couple of  "toys" you don't already have in the kitchen -- yet. Meet the vacuum sealer and iSi (cream) siphon, pictured above.

Vacuum sealers are used to remove air from food before it's packaged in special bags, sealing in flavors and keeping the food fresh for a longer period than traditional storage methods. Vacuum sealers are great for marinating, curing, freezing and even cooking foods "sous-vide" style.

The iSi siphon uses a CO2 cartridge to pressurize contents inside a larger container, causing them to puff and foam as they are released (think pressurized whipped-cream cans or soda siphons).

Both are readily available. Vacuum sealers can be found at well-stocked department and kitchen-supply stores, as well as online; prices vary by brand and model but range from around $40 to more than $400. Siphons can be found at cooking-supply stores and well-stocked department stores and are readily available online; prices will vary by brand and model, ranging from roughly $40 to $100 (chargers run $5 to $10 per 10/pack).

[Updated at 9:53 p.m.: Though we used a home vacuum sealer in the Test Kitchen while preparing the recipes, Keller does not advocate them.]

-- Noelle Carter

Photo: Noelle Carter / Los Angeles Times