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How to soak up more than just rays this summer

The Gastrovac uses vacuum pressure to cook food at lower temperatures and infuse food with intense flavors

Since the vacuum removes oxygen, you don't have to worry about your fruit browning. Popular Science

Ever since inventions like Dippin' Dots made it into the mainstream, food enthusiasts and chefs have been in search of ways to make food more surprising. Chefs such as Richard of Top Chef have blurred the lines between the laboratory and the kitchen, and in the quest for more creative culinary innovations, they've proven to us that anything is possible.

Take chefs Heston Blumenthal and Ferran Adriá, two names often associated with molecular gastronomy. Responsible for creations like foamed beetroot and espresso (made using cartridges of nitrogen oxide), Adriá's goal is to "provide unexpected contrasts of flavour, temperature and texture. Nothing is what it seems. The idea is to provoke, surprise and delight the diner."

But forget about the obvious wow-factor, the products of molecular gastronomy have also proven to be just as successful in flavor. When it comes to true cuisine, that's what's most important anyway, right?

Thanks to the marriage of science and food science, the ticket to delicious dinners doesn't necessarily lie at the end of a culinary school program. It can be found in inventions like the Gastrovac, an appliance that can infuse your food with intense flavor without compromising the texture.

Think of the Gastrovac as a blend between a pressure cooker, vacuum pump, and hot plate in one. You suspend your favorite food into a basket above a pool of liquid (some people suggest pears above red wine). Turn it on, and a vacuum pump removes the air from the chamber, kind of like depuffing a marshmallow. Then, you drop the food into the liquid, and when the vacuum is released, the food becomes instantly infused with flavor. The vacuum power also allows food to boil at temperatures that are much lower than at normal pressures, which means that it retains more of its texture, color, and nutrients.

OK, so the Gastrovac looks like something straight out of the nutty professor's basement, and at a price tag of $2,900, it's probably still only really accessible to professionals. But at the rate this kind of thing is spreading, it hopefully won't be long before we all can make lemon-infused fish fillets and red wine-infused vegetables.