How To Make Culinary Foam

On July 29th I turned 27. To mark this momentous occasion I was showered with gifts. HURRAH and HUZZAH!

Now, as you'll no doubt know, buying gifts for people is always a difficult task. But I let my friends and family off by asking for anything cooking related.

Abi (Mrs Phantom) bought me what is possibly the best thing I could have wished for. A compressed Nitrous Oxide dispenser and 100 NO2 chargers. Now, I know what you're thinking. You're thinking "What the fudge are they and what application do they have?" Well, valued viewer I'm about to tell you.

An NO2 dispenser looks like one of those gadgets on the right. It's mainly used for making squirty cream. However, in the world of fine dining, the fashion is to include a foam alongside the main course, flavoured with a garnish.

How it works

Ok, in this example, which is dead easy to follow, I'm going to explain how to use it to create the perfect culinary foam. When I first had it, I couldn't find a decent tutorial on the net - so I had to piece together various snippets of information. This post is intended to help those that are in a similar position to myself 2 weeks ago.

To start you require juice or stock. This can be home-made or shop bought, but needs to be sieved to ensure that there are no bits. It needs to be as smooth as Leslie Phillips. For the purposes of this example I am going to use Tesco Orange and Banana Juice.

Dissolve a packet (or sheet) gelatin into some warm water. Leave it to dissolve, which should take 3-5 minutes. While this is doing, measure out in a jug the required amount of juice taking into consideration the amount of gelatin used to ensure it can set.

When the gelatin is dissolved, tip it into the juice and stir to ensure that it is mixed evenly into the mixture and leave it to set in the fridge. This should take between 30 and 60 minutes. When it is set and is in a jellied form, take it out of the fridge and get a whisk. Whisk it to break down the firm jelly into a 'goo' (I really struggled for a word there, sorry!). Place in the dispenser and fill it up with 3 NO2 chargers. You will need to shake the mixture between charges.

It's now ready to serve. You get a perfect foam, whipped, light, fluffy and most importantly flavoursome. Serve immediately!

NOTE: If you're a vegetarian, a gelling agent such as agar can replace gelatin and will do the job perfectly well.

Foam has many applications in cookery. It was first discovered (or rather invented) by Spanish Chef Ferran Adria, who is Head Chef at El Bulli, which was voted the best restaurant in the world, ahead of the Fat Duck in Bray.

On the 26th August this year, my grandmother turns 80. I will be cooking the meal for the whole family and foam will be used on the starter. At the moment it's looking as though it's going to be applied in a starter of Duck Breast, Watercress and Rocket and a Pomegranate foam. Duck and Pomegranate go together really very well, so it looks like a proper winner. I shall of course be updating the blog with pictures of the final result in due course.

If you want to try it out yourself, be prepared for a mixture of success and failure. Trial and error are the only ways to find out what goes with what. Though if you've a good imagination, you're off to a head start!

Foam I'm itching to try:

Coconut foam using coconut milk (heavily sieved!)
Beetroot foam (based on a recipe for Borscht)
Carrot foam (based on a stock, followed by blending and sieving heavily)

Eat well!


Darrell Erickson said...

Hey there!

I'm a sous chef in Chicago.

Was poking around on the net for good foam recipes, and it pointed your way.

I've never messed with foams (not for me, personally, but Chef wants it, and I must oblige.

Anyhoo, prolly going to lurk about your blog here and there. Seems neat.


The Phantom Chef said...

Hi Darrell

Thanks very much for the kind words, I'll try and oblige. Foam can round off a meal nicely and it's a good way to get a flavour into a meal without directly putting the ingredient onto the plate. It looks superb and is always a talking point.

Anonymous said...

Been looking for somthing like these happy to find it .

Chef Schwegel

Dayve_Frank said...

Many thanks for the tip. Im a professional Mixologist and have been experimenting with different aspects to add a new talking point to drinks. Foam is somthing ive been planning for a while but from your tips im inspired to get to it ASAP.
Many thanks.

Whiffy said...


The foam worked an absolute treat. Managed to pick up one of the cream whippers for around £15 and seriously wowed the socks of some culinary competitors (aka friends but there's a bit of an edge on our dinner party circuit) with a Lemongrass Foam to accompany a carnaroli risotto with langoustine oil.


The Phantom Chef said...

Hey Whiffy

Thanks for the feedback - I'm chuffed that someone would read this and then go and do it themselves. I'm really glad it all worked out for you!

genepool said...

Thanks very much for the instructions. For all the hype around food foaming, it's very difficult to find actual instructions.

bill said...

Hi Bud, I took a few years off cooking and tried another career but missed the buzz of the things changed in a brief time !! Australians are pretty keen on their their food and I had been looking for info on the foam and had trouble finding it. Thanks for the instructions and advice and I have put it into practice and use it on the menu from time to time..the fave so far has been the crispy pork belly on sweet & sour pineapple and a vodka & citrus foam..they have gone nuts for it.



Enda said...

I have a question. Will the canister explode when you 3 gas bottles in? Also how many can you put in?

Thanks for the info.

Greg said...

Amuse-Bouche by Nick Tramonto has an entire chapter based on foams,
Under Pressure Cooking Sous Vide by Thomas Keller, and Alinea by Grant Achatz have multiple applications with foams that you might want to check out.

Greg said...

Also, Sabayon is a foam that both pre-dates Ferran Adria and doesn't require a fancy appliance (I have to make sure he doesn't get too much credit...).

iplaylax21 said...

Hey there,
just one suggestion... you could also use an emulsifier like soy lecithen. (knox sells it pretty cheap)

I find that the gelatin can give an "off" texture, and the product is vegan...

archie said...

Cool article, just want to add something: you use N2O gas canister (aka nitrous oxide, laughing gas, the same anesthetic gas they use in dental procedure or for canned whipped cream).
NO2 on the other hand is a toxic nitrogen dioxide, very useful industrial chemical, brownish coloured gas, a pollutant in car exhaust gas that contributes to the smog clouding big cities skylines.

dougie said...

i am trying to make an alcholic foam for partys (like halloween) and havent had any luck i will try the jello, and possibly mix in some melted marshmellows. any ideas would be appreciated.

phawkhrua said...

If the N2O siphons are not available where I live, is there a way to make these foams using just a regular mixer, maybe with some adjustments to the recipes, if necessary?

mew said...

they sell them on amazon. check out this link.

Tedster11 said...

I tried to make a hot foam using my iSi which I got last Xmas. I used 100 gms of blue cheese, 1 tsp of agar agar and 3/4 of beef gravy all strained. I poured it into the siphon hot and tried to foam it. The sauce was tasty but it came out liquid. What did I do wrong?

Alex said...

Hey guy, cool article. You popped up at the top for "how to make a foam," btw, so congrats on that.

Can you give me advice on what brand of N2O dispenser you have?

michael said...

as far as the hot foam goes agar sets cold so it won't work. use kappa it sets hot. can find it online fairly cheep.

michael said...

as far as the hot foam goes agar sets cold so it won't work. use kappa it sets hot. can find it online fairly cheep.

infernalalchemist said...

If you use a CO2 you can carbonate the foam.

im a mixologist in my spare time and love the foams, its trying to get the right ratio of using the agar/alcohol after the drink is prepared usually takes 5-10 minutes to make the foam before hand, generally about 20 minutes in the canister but im still working out the kinks...this is an awesome thread!

Marcus Riley said...

Does anyone have a link to a foam machine that you really like?

thundercookie said...