Let’s get this out of the way: I love to read Joe Ray’s kitchen gadget reviews. Perhaps more than any modern cooking gadget reviewer, Ray not only keeps real-world consumer concerns front of mind as he evaluates new products, but he does so in a way that shows off a strong understanding of advanced culinary concepts all while explaining new technology in an approachable way.
And oh yeah: he’s funny too.
The result of this unique combination of skills makes his reviews a joy to read, and so when I saw he’d written a review of Dave Arnold’s new home centrifuge, I suspected it’d be the definitive wrap-up of this intriguing product.
I was right.
For those of you not familiar with Arnold or his newest contraption, here’s a quick catchup. Arnold himself is a modern day culinary renaissance man: part mad scientist, part award-winning food writer, part museum curator. In 2014, Arnold won the James Beard award for the book Liquid Intelligence, a Modernist Cuisine for the craft cocktail set, which added to an already sizable cult following from years of writing, podcasting and inventing interesting culinary hardware products.
So when Arnold announced his latest product, the Spinzall, there was understandably a lot of interest. The product is an $800 countertop centrifuge. While that price may be somewhat eye-popping, it’s a downright bargain compared to most high-end centrifuges which can cost thousands of dollars.
The excitement was also fed in part by Arnold’s emphasis on the use of centrifuges in Liquid Intelligence. Here at the Spoon we’ve been following the Spinzall’s journey to market, all the way back when Arnold first started pre-selling the device and through his crowdfunding efforts. We even had him on the podcast.
And now the Spinzall is finally shipping, which brings us to Ray’s review.
Ray begins his review in a way that reminds of how my wife reacts every time I bring home a new product: shoulder-shrugging indifference combined with bemusement at how excited I am for something that, for normal people, doesn’t seem all that life-changing:
NOT LONG AGO, I poured a bottle of fancy whipping cream into the gadget I was reviewing, started it up and watched in awe as the machine’s rotor began spinning rapidly, creating a vertical wall of solidified dairy that stayed in place after the machine wound down.
“Behold,” I exclaimed as my wife Elisabeth passed through the kitchen. “I made butter in a centrifuge!”
“Wow,” she said with a tone that foretold bubble bursting. “Did they run out of butter at the store?”
Before long, Ray rolls up his sleeves and jumps into the review with vigor. He makes two versions of a clarified lime juice recipe, one with the Spinzall and one with a method the same Dave Arnold wrote about in 2009 in which he said, “Not only do you not need a centrifuge, you don’t need the bag and you don’t need the vacuum.”
At the end of his lime juice journey, Ray found he got better results with Arnold’s 2009 non-centrifuge technique.
He then tried out making spreadable yogurt and flavored oil to decent but somewhat eventful results:
I made the labneh and spun up some basil oil, and they were tasty but the machine had a hiccup while I was making the oil where the lid rotated toward the open position while it was running. I couldn’t get it to open any further, but it no longer felt fully secure, which is disconcerting when the rotor below continued to spin away at 4,000 rpm.
In the end, Ray suggests Arnold’s centrifuge probably makes sense for bartenders and craft cocktail enthusiasts trying to take their art to the next-level, but the Spinzall didn’t seem worth it for someone without $800 and a surplus of counter space to spare:
The Spinzall certainly has some neat tricks up its sleeve. It might solve a problem or two for owners of small bars (a larger bar would need several machines) or make for good entertainment for food nerds who like to throw parties and have $800 to blow. For the most part, however, it’s hard to justify awarding it a space on your counter.
Go read Ray’s full review here. I think you’ll enjoy it.