Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Walk To The Beat Of Your Own Drum

Minox Stainless Steel Fusti

As the gourmet food scene continues to grow in the United States, you will most likely see a lot of unfamiliar and peculiar items that are not normally found in the local grocery store. This is not limited to just food products however. In this post we will be covering one of the hottest trends that's been gaining popularity this year, the Italian fusti (pictured above). We are in a partnership with our Italian producer,  Minox, to bring these beautiful stainless steel containers to the American market. The response by our customers has been outstanding. Read more after the break for details about Minox, the definition of NSF, the significance of welding, stainless steel types, and a few more other related tidbits.

Don't forget to also check out our other post titled True As Stainless Steel for more up to date fusti information!

Who is Minox?

Minox symbol
Minox started as a small artisan business that specialized in manufacturing traditional olive drums in the 1970s. With its history for creating containers for olives, they have become a key player in the olive oil & wine making industry. Flexibility is a distinct feature Minox proudly works with their customer needs, including tailored products and special projects. This works well with small companies who work closely with them as it generates added value in this rising and popular market.

Minox created their current stainless steel fustis to resemble that of the traditional Italian olive oil containers. As you can see from the image up above, their style gives it that premium look and feel while keeping the classic and vintage essence of the past. 

What is a "fusti"?

Fusti (pronounced as foo-stee) is the Italian word for "drum". Normally made from stainless steel, these were originally designed to hold olive oil. The Italians would fill their fusti from the olive mills in preparation for the coming winter. This was done right after the olives were harvested to guarantee freshness. The fusti would then be set aside in the pantry from which the family could pour whatever they needed.

However, the fusti's versatility does not limit it to just olive oil. Other thick liquids such as honey can work just as well. Within the United States and other places in the world, consumers have found it particularly useful as a water dispenser and even more popular for distilling alcohol. With the various sizes that our online retail store The Gourmet Import Shop (click here), it is ideal for both retail customers as well as business or restaurants. The demand from our customers has been excellent since we introduced fustis from Italy. They have been selling like hot cakes.

The Metric Conversion

Since the fustis are imported from Italy, the unit of measure they use are in metrics. Since America has not caught on with the rest of the world, a lot of customers have difficulty in determining the right size for their needs. For a quick conversion for all our sizes, click on the product pictures below.

3 Liter (shown w/ NSF cap) = .80 Gallons

5 Liter = 1.32 Gallons

10 Liter = 2.64 Gallons

15 Liter = 4 Gallons
NSF symbol

NSF is the abbreviation for National Sanitation Foundation. Originally called NSF International and founded in 1944, they started off specifically in sanitation but expanded beyond that area and into global markets around 1990. The NSF is an independent and accredited organization who develops standards as well as  test and certify products to comply with standards. When you see the NSF mark on a product, that is a sign that it has been approved by one of the most respected independent certification organizations in the world. This seal ensures that the product complies with all the standard requirements.

All sizes of the fustis we carry at the Gourmet Import Shop, with exception of the 100 Liter, are NSF certified. These NSF fustis have all been welded (more on this later) and come with a brush for cleaning the spigot and a plastic cap to prevent contamination. Spigots (see images below; needle or lever type) are used to dispense the liquids and avoid opening and closing the top of the fusti. This helps prevent contamination.

Welding: Key To Prevent Contamination

Example of GTAW Process
As mentioned above, welding is a key factor in preventing contamination. Welding is the process in combining materials. By melting the metal pieces and adding fill material to the molten section which then becomes solidified as a weld by cooling through a combination of pressure and heat. The type of welding that our NSF fustis are made is made by Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (GTAW) also known as Tungsten Inert Gas (TIG) welding. This type of welding provides stronger, higher quality welds than other weld methods. GTAW is commonly used when working with stainless steel as it provides the welder with greater control. The area that the weld is made in is protected from any contamination through the atmosphere by an inert shielding gas (like argon or helium) along with filler metal. The trade off with using this welding method is that it is a lot more complex to use and master as well as being slower than other techniques.

With Minox fustis, the welds are done from the inside of the containers. This is to keep the premium metallic look on the outside without any blemishes. Dark areas inside the fusti are from welding burns and not rust build up. With the screw-in lid, you have a completely sealed off drum. And to top it off, the NSF plastic cap will prevent dust particles from ending up on top of the screw-in lid. If the fusti is not welded, the metals are more likely either "folded" or somehow "glued" together. This can lead to some contamination from the outside as it is not completely sealed like how it would be if it were welded together.

Stainless Steel

Minox fustis are all made from stainless steel. This gives it that nice shiny metallic look along with some very fine finish that Minox does for us. There are actually two types of stainless steel which are Type 304 and Type 316.

Type 304 - Type 304 is made to withstand the corrosive nature of acids found in vegetables, milk, fruits, and meats. Other examples that use this type of stainless steel include  large items like sinks, stoves, and refrigerators as well as culinary utensils such as pots, pans, and cooking appliances. It is great for use as for the dairy, citrus, and fruit industry and is especially useful for the brewing industry where the steel is used in fermentation vats, storage, and even distilling. This is the metal that is used for the fustis that we have.

Type 316 - Unlike Type 304, Type 316 is the usually used for industrial type equipment since it has higher defense against corrosion such as phosphoric acid, hypochlorite solutions, sodium/calcium brines, and also sulfurous acids & sulfite liquors that are used in the paper pulp industry. In general, this alloy is ideal for industries handling rubber, paper, textiles, inks, and photography chemicals. Type 316 is even greatly used in surgical implants within the human body.

Popular Uses

As mentioned briefly earlier, the use of fustis in the United States has expanded from its original intention for olive oil storage. For retail customers it has been a hit as a water dispenser for home use especially with the variety of sizes available. Our wholesale customers took on a unique spin on it when they began using fustis to distill alcohol.

25 Liter Fustis Distilling Alcohol

But of course, the fustis are especially great for stores that have them set up for tasters of the various olive oils they carry.

Fustis On Display at Secolari

Needle Spigot In Action

The Italian stainless steel fusti boom has not been slowing down, and we are able to provide an excellent supply of various sizes. So much interest has been generated that it is the most popular item in our product line. We hope that this blog is able to shed some light on this exquisite and unique container! Should you have any other unanswered questions about these or other products we carry, feel free to contact us and we'll be more than happy to find the answer for you.

Check out all our fustis at our retail website!


  1. These would make great fermenters. What's your advice for installing an air lock or blowoff tube to let CO2 escape during fermentation?

    1. Unfortunately, the Minox fustis that we currently carry do not have the ability to do so. However, another Italian fusti brand that we also work with called Sansone is in the prototype phase of implementing something like that into their fustis. We are in close contact with Sansone to see how it turns out.

      Actually, we just recently had a meeting with someone who wanted to make fermented tea using these Minox fustis. What they said worked for them was simply opening the lid for a few minutes to let the air out and then closing it again. It may not be the exact method of having CO2 escape through a tube, but they said their fermentation turned out exactly the way they wanted it by doing this.