Passion fruit pain…

Ok, I’m exhausted and don’t have a lot of motivation to do anything other than sleep right now.  But… I have one, great little story to share with you.  Forgive me if this gets a little “techy” with mentions of the vacuum machine, but the end is pure and simple Mindy disaster.

I was pulled from brunch service today to help the head of my school prep for an event tomorrow night.  My last task of the day, after a full day of work, was to place these little passion fruit meringues (made with a hydrocolloid that eliminates the need for and taste of egg whites) into a glass vacuum jar and vacuum seal them.  They take hours to dry in a food dehydrator and are light, crunchy, and full of passion fruit flavor, but quickly become soggy if left to sit too long in the open, sucking in moisture.  All I had to do was place them in a jar and vacuum them, and then I could finally go home after being there since 7:30 AM.

Well, I put the meringues in a vacuum jar and put on the lid.  Unfortunately, my boss, Dave, had drilled holes in all of the glass vacuum jar lids for another application a while back (typical).  So, we had been placing the jar and lid in a vacuum bag and sealing them that way.  I asked the head of the school whether the lid was even necessary then.  He replied that he didn’t know, but he didn’t think so and then left, leaving me on my own to finish up.  I put about 100 little puffs into a large vacuum jar, sans lid, into a plastic bag and then placed it in the chamber of the vacuum machine.  I hit start and watched all the air being sucked out of the chamber.  Right about then, I started to think that maybe this wasn’t a good idea…

When the vacuum stopped, I quickly slowed the return of air into the vacuum chamber as this feeling of dread washed over me. The air hadn’t fully return into the chamber, and the bag was stretched across the open end of the jar.  I turned the dial on the machine slowly to allow a slow stream of air back in.  Little by little, the part of the bag stretched taught over the open end of the jar began to curve inwards, the pressure outside the bagged jar pushing on the vacuum inside.  Everything actually seemed to be working and I allowed myself a millisecond of breath.  See, that’s where I always go wrong.  It’s just like when it rains and then stops and I don’t bring an umbrella because I think the rain is over.

Muffled pop.  That’s what I heard right before a cloud of yellow powder filled the interior of the vacuum chamber.  Damn.  That’s not the four-letter word that I muttered, but that’s what’s appropriate for the web.  Damn, damn, damn.  Followed by, really?  Really?  Damn.  The bag had stretched as far as it could until it popped, allowing a rush of air through the hole in the bag into the jar.  The force of the air literally pulverized the delicate meringues inside, forcing the passion fruit dust to swirl around itself in the chamber, dancing as if to mock my pain.  Half of the product was gone.  The vacuum machine was filled with passion fruit dust that would instantly be sticky when the lid popped open.  It was only me left.  Had to clean vacuum.  Had to make more.  Time to make the passion fruit puffs.

Luckily I conned my friend, Nick, into helping me pipe more puffs onto the dehydrator sheets.  When my boss, Dave, called, I was relaying to him the story of why I was still at work and had just gotten to the part about not putting a lid on the jar when he said, “oh – yeah, you have to have the lid.  Otherwise the bag with get sucked into the jar and crush the contents.”  I started saying, “well, no, the bag didn’t get sucked into the jar,” when he quickly replied, “oh good – you were lucky!”  <sigh>  He should have known better and let me finish my story.

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