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Feb 3, 2013 12:54 PM

avoiding a clogged siphon

On something of an impulse buy, I got a .5l isi cream siphon. I now see that the directions warn not to use it for anything else but cream, which takes all the fun out of it. I am guessing that is marketing for the more expensive version/ butt covering for lawsuit prevention. I also want to believe this because it's too late to return it, and I want to experiment with it.

The cooking for geeks book suggests that as long as you strain your food through a strainer of 500 microns or less, you're not likely to clog the siphon (though they don't specify any differences between what i've got and the "professional grade" one.)

My questions are:
a) how do I determine what strainers are 500 microns or less? I have some possible candidates in my kitchen (tea strainers, cheesecloths, ordinary fabric, etc.), and might be willing to buy something, but most strainers aren't sold indicating the exact size of the mesh. I did see something called a "superbag", but 30 bucks for what looks to be a plastic bag seems just silly.

b) given that I've got the smaller, cheaper siphon, is 500 microns really okay or should I be even more conservative just in case? I've not used the thing yet, and I am intimidated by the possibility of something getting pressurized and stuck. We all know what comes next after "stuck" :).

Thanks for your help,


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  1. I got the 1l 'gourmet' model for Christmas. It's cook book talks about straining things, even recommending the one combined with a funnel that ISI sells, but does not say anything about the mesh size. I've just been using my regular strainers, such as a silicone one. I haven't resorted to the small mesh ones I use for coffee.

    Did yours come with a small wire brush for cleaning? That gives some idea of size of the nozzle opening. You should also be able to see the gasket on the underside that seals the opening.

    So far I've used it 4 times:
    - pancake batter
    - cream of tomato soup
    - flavored cream
    - panacota.

    The panacota was a flop. I used too much gelatin, so by the time it had chilled overnight, it had set in the bottom of the container, and charge just dissipated when I try to spray it. I warmed the container in a hot water bath, and pour the contents out to use in the normal way.

    What can happen if the nozzle gets clogged? I would set it up right, and then unscrew the nozzle, possibly wrapped in a towel just in case. Then I might try cleaning it out with the wire brush. Hopefully this will release the gas pressure without making too much of a mess. Nothing is going to explode.

    1. Another thing - my impression is that the main special thing about the more expensive model is that its red gasket tolerates hot food better (hot as in 60C). So it can be used to dispense hot sauces and soups.

      1. Hello, Dr.:

        A 500µm mesh is the same as a US Standard #35, which is 0.0197 inches, or half a millimeter.

        Perforated strainers are almost always >1mm, so you should be looking for mesh. My "fine" Chinoise is supposed to be 0.6mm, so you're off into the realm of XFine. Bear in mind, though, that there is no standardization of XFine.

        Cheesecloth is rated by "Grade", Grade 10 being the coarsest and it going to 100+. Grade 90, which is quite fine, has a weave size of 44x36 threads per square inch. You do the math.

        Hope this helps,