Descaling FrancisFrancis! espresso makers

Pale blue FrancisFrancis! espresso maker

I am the proud owner of a wonderful FrancisFrancis! X1 espresso maker. As a machine of function and beauty, it is used daily. I live in a hard water area and the machine comes with this slightly disturbing warning:

Failure to undertake regular decalcification will result in lime-scale build-up that may in turn cause an appliance malfunction not covered by the guarantee.

Hmm. OK then, I don’t want to invalidate the guarantee on a ?375 piece of equipment, so how do I descale it? The manual has only this to say:

Please contact the manufacturer for information on how to use a household decalcification appliance.

What? Surely you are the manufacturer? And what is a decalcification appliance? A trip back to the Steamer Trading Cookshop was in order, where a very helpful assistant explained the process:

  • Get yourself some descaling powder. FrancisFrancis! do their own (which I used) but I was told you can use any descaler suitable for food – so use kettle descaler not central heating descaler. Obviously.
  • Set aside an hour. This takes a while.
  • Follow the instructions on your packet of descaler to make up 1.5 litres of solution.
  • Fill your reservoir tank with descaling solution and turn on the machine.
  • Once up to temperature, remove the filter handle if you haven’t already. Flick the espresso switch and run through about half a mug of water (equivalent to 3 espresso cups).
  • Leave for 15 minutes.
  • Run through another half a mug of water and repeat every 4–5 minutes until the tank is empty. Your machine should now be descaled.
  • Rinse out the reservoir tank and refill with filtered water (you’re using filtered water anyway, right?).
  • Again, run through half-mugs of water every 4–5 minutes until the tank is empty. Your machine should now be free of descaling solution and ready to use.

On another kitchen related note, I cooked my first Jerusalem artichokes last night. They are in season at the moment and we got a couple of pounds in our weekly vegetable box. They look somewhat like root ginger but, once peeled and sliced, are similar to potatoes with a sweeter smell. In fact they are cooked exactly like potatoes (boiled, roasted, fried etc). I followed Jamie Oliver’s recipe for Baked Jerusalem Artichokes with Bread Crumbs, Thyme & Lemon – a sort of gratin/dauphinoise affair, and the result was delicious with the Jerusalem artichokes bringer a lighter texture than the equivalent dish made with spuds.

Interestingly, I learned that Jerusalem artichokes have nothing to do with Jerusalem, the word instead comes from girasole, Italian for sunflower. Jerusalem artichokes are a member of the sunflower family it seems. Thanks to Wikipedia for that gem.