Jamie Oliver's Flavour Shaker - Kitchen kit of the month

Updated on 17 February 2011 | 0 Comments

Is Jamie Oliver's new invention, the Flavour Shaker, worth buying to make marinades and spice rubs, or should we just stick with the traditional pestle and mortar? Alessia Horwich finds out.

Is it a plastic cocktail shaker, or some sort of kitchen maraca? No, it’s a Flavour Shaker, a reinvention of the pestle and mortar brought to us by the lovely Jamie Oliver.

This nifty little gadget comes with a ceramic ball inside designed to bruise herbs, crush spices and generally mix things up. Pop in your ingredients, screw on the lid and give it a vigorous shake and you’ve got marinades, spice rubs and dressings in minutes.

Herb marinades

Jamie says he invented the Flavour Shaker because getting the pestle and mortar out after you’ve been at work all day and are knackered is a pain. He isn’t wrong, and my first go with the flavour shaker was fantastic.

To go with some lamb neck fillet I popped in two cloves of garlic, three sprigs of rosemary, two bay leaves, seasoning and a good slug of oil. The ingredients just fitted into the bottom part of the shaker. Jamie recommends you don’t fill more than this otherwise the ball can’t circulate properly.

I sealed it up and shook away, but even though I’d stuck to the rules it was too full to work properly. So I stripped the rosemary leaves , got rid of the stalk and then had another shake.

What came out was a thickish, fragrant marinade (with some lumps but not too many) that I slathered all over the meat and left to marinate.

Blending spices

After a quick and easy rinse (or you can put it in the dishwasher) I got an especially designed recipe for tikka marinade off the Flavour Shaker website to test out the gadget’s grinding ability.

First up, I crushed coriander seeds, mustard seeds, cumin seeds into a powder. So far so spicy.

Then I added two cloves of garlic (the magic number, Jamie says this is as many as it can cope with in one go), some chopped and peeled ginger and a chopped chilli. This is where it all went horribly wrong.

The shaker did not pulp the garlic, chilli or ginger even though I’d chopped them first. The spices absorbed all the moisture and the compacted mixture got stuck in the top part of the shaker. I had to scoop it all out and re-shake a bit at a time. It was messy and time consuming.

To finish off, I added natural yoghurt, but had to do it in a separate bowl because the shaker wasn’t big enough.

Bruschetta toppings

One of the main reasons why the tikka didn’t work so well was the lack of lubrication. The shape of the Flavour Shaker is designed to optimise bruising, but if the ingredients stick together in a big lump and don’t move around this can’t happen.

 Jamie suggests adding oil, or cream to get things moving, so I decided to try a sundried tomato tapenade.

I put in a clove of garlic with some oil and basil and shook it up. This left me with a nice paste. Then I added more oil, the sundried tomatoes, parmesan and shook again – this time for a good two minutes.

The resulting paste was good, but it had big bits of tomato skin in it and although the ingredients had been bashed together, they hadn’t truly combined (even after all that shaking).

It left me wanting to get out the food processor to finish the job.

The verdict

Jamie's Flavour ShakerThe Flavour Shaker has been around for ages (see a much younger Jamie Oliver demonstrating how to use it here) and if you’re clever about it, it’s a great gadget for the kitchen.

But only if you stick to the golden rule: don’t fill it too much. The downside of this rule is you can only really make enough for one or two people at a time.

Also, try either wet marinades or dressings, or completely dry spice rubs. It would be great for mixing up the marinade Fay Ripley uses for her sweet marinated pork fillet.

 Or releasing the flavour of the garlic and thyme in the Cowdray Butchery’s slow roast shoulder of lamb with lemon thyme and balsamic vinegar.

However, pastes like the one Josceline Dimbleby uses for her red quail curry take much more pummelling and are more suited to a mini food processor like this one.

And steer clear of chillies and ginger which are much better off finely chopped. Or even better, pulped up in a garlic twist.

And if you don’t have the special edition that comes with the spoon, you’ll find a mini spatula really helpful for scraping out the remains of whatever you’ve shaken up.

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