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Bubbles with Air Pump

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There are several molecular gastronomy techniques that have been developed to incorporate air into liquids and creams to make them lighter. The two most popular are probably airs and foams. But now, get your fish tank air pump ready! The “bubbles with air pump” technique produces a result similar to “airs” but with larger bubbles.

Airs are usually made by adding soy lecithin powder to a liquid and incorporating air using an immersion blender on the surface of the liquid. Foams are made by whipping or using an N2O siphon such as the ISI Whip with a liquid with high fat content (cream), egg whites, versawhip or methylcellulose to name a few.

Bubbles with Air Pump

The “bubbles with air pump” technique consists of injecting air using a fish tank air pump into a liquid with some viscosity. It works great with light syrups and juices by just adding a little egg white powder and Xanthan gum.

One of the advantages of this technique is that you can just leave the air pump running all the time so you always have bubbles ready to be served. Another interesting way of applying this technique is to fill the bubbles with smoke or herb, flower or spice vapor so the aromas are released when the bubbles burst.

If you don't have a fish tank air pump you could use for this, I recommend buying the inexpensive and silent Tetra Whisper Air Pump.

Check these recipes using the bubbles technique! “Cranberry Bubbles Cosmo” and “Coconut Bubbles, Gruyere and Candied Apricot”.

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  • Zake

    Could there be a specification to how strong the pump need to be ?? Because I tried this technique with tomato juice, a dash of tobasco, lime juice mixture. Trying to create perhaps a Bubbly Mary, but the foam wasn’t much. More like a small froth. Even though I used the egg whites of a whole egg. What do you think is missing ? More egg white or powerful pump ??

    By the way has anyone ever tried to find out how long these foams last after serving ??

    • QuantumChef

      The pump is probably not the problem. I have experienced this before and was able to fix it by adjusting the amount of additives in the mix. Not sure what causes the different bubble sizes. It could be the acidity, size of solid particles in the mix, etc. Try with tomato water.

      • Thespeakeasy77

        It was not Achatz who invented this technique. The fist one who created and used it was Andoni Luis Aduriz chef and owner of the restaurant Mugaritz, in the north of Spain.

    • Steve Brown

      I realize this post is old, but when I make beer (wort actually, so there’s no obvious emulsifiers involved) I aeriate the wort using either a 2 micron stone or a .5 micron… They sell them on amazon, don’t touch them with your fingers or the oil will clog them. You hook it up to a 40-60 gallon hepa filtered tetra whisper and it delivers the initial oxygen required for fermentation. But here I’m sure it would create quite the suds, although I don’t know if it would clog.

      • QuantumChef

        Hi Steve, thanks for the suggestion! Would be nice to try it.

  • Bo

    Instead of using the air pump, can I use a (manual) sugar pump that pastry chefs use in sugar work? Just curious…

    • QuantumChef

      Probably not, you need to make a lot of bubbles so an electric one seems necessary.