|The lab instrument in question,|
straight from the Supporting Info
(I <3 pictures in SI)
The researchers claim that, after a quick silica plug, they obtain 5.5% (w/w) of "sufficiently pure"* shikimic acid. I'd encourage you to go see the NMR spectra for yourself.
Of course, pressing common kitchen tools into synthetic service isn't news. My undergraduate lab group ordered many of its smaller-bore funnels and spatulae from a kitchen supply store. And let's not forget grindstone chemistry, popularized by the late Ajay Bose at the Stevens Institute of Technology, which used a stainless-steel blender** to combine solid reagents into heterocycles.
If molecular gastronomy involves bringing the techniques of organic and biochemistry into the kitchen, perhaps this represents its antipode, some sort of 'reverse' molecular gastronomy in which kitchen appliances and techniques inform bench science. Makes perfect sense; after all (say it with me)...Chemistry is Just Like Cooking!
*Based on the 1H NMR, I'm guessing their material hovers around 90% pure. Still good, given a 2-minute prep time.
**Kitchen-Aid, no less - high-quality 'instruments' for high-quality chemistry : )