How is Ice Cream Made With Liquid Nitrogen?
Updated: Nov 21
Nitrogen is a natural gas that makes up around 75% of our atmosphere. In its liquid state of matter, liquid nitrogen is a cryogen, or an extremely cold gas. This is used mostly for freezing purposes. When it comes to food, you’ll sometimes hear of this cryogenic gas being used to freeze food for long distance food transportation. When it comes to cooking with liquid nitrogen however, that’s a bit of a different story. The whole process of using liquid nitrogen to freeze food is known as flash freezing. Using this method for cooking is one of a few techniques known in the world of molecular gastronomy.
Molecular gastronomy is food science and food preparation taken on a more technical standpoint by using scientific principles as a way to innovate with food and recipes. A few things that are taken into account with this concept are taste combinations, shapes, temperature, states of matter, and “gases”. This would be where flash freezing with liquid nitrogen comes to mind.
Heston Blumenthal is one of many scientists who advocates the idea of cooking with science in mind. He became a pioneer of molecular gastronomy, won many awards for his remarkable achievements, and has influenced many people to create something new with this modern style of cooking.
One example of molecular gastronomy, besides liquid nitrogen, which we will be diving deeper into in just a bit, is the use of carbon dioxide being used to create carbonated drinks. Of course, that’s a more common example of this form of food preparation. Liquid nitrogen is used to freeze a mixture of ingredients, which comes in handy when it comes to making ice cream!
How is Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream Possible?
All that’s really needed are the usual ice cream ingredients (cream, sugar, milk, vanilla, and other ingredients depending on the flavor), a stainless steel mixing bowl, a nitrogen cylinder, some safety glasses, and cryo gloves. The last two things on the list are meant for safety reasons. You’re dealing with a freezing gas, so you’ll need to keep your hands from freezing and your eyes from reacting to the gas. Combining your ingredients together as normal, you’d then add the liquid nitrogen. As you pour in your liquid nitrogen, the gas will go from its liquid state into its gaseous state. It’ll kinda look like your making some mad science concoction as it floats around the bowl.
This is a very simple, homemade method of creating cold treats. Plus, it’s not only better to use liquid nitrogen, but it’s actually natural and even quicker. How much quicker? Well, flash freezing means freezing almost instantaneously, or in a flash (ha ha), and this concept is deliciously exemplified by making ice cream with liquid nitrogen. It takes minutes to make. There are many ice cream shops that use this gas to make their ice cream. Not all of them, but a good chunk of them do. And you know what? Since nitrogen is primarily used in these shops, that means other treats can be made with this gas. It’s how Dippin’ Dots are made, and milkshakes and sorbet can get the same treatment. Another thing worth noting is what is going on with flash freezing, and why it’s so ideal for ice cream shops to use liquid nitrogen in their ice cream.
Liquid Nitrogen vs Traditional Freezers
We don’t think too much about the subtle effects a freezer puts on foods when it does its job. All we’re interested in usually is our food getting frozen. When food is freezing, ice crystals start developing. The larger the ice crystals, the more changes within the food consistency. The size of the ice crystals change depending on how cold the temperature is and what method is used for freezing. Because the ice crystals in food are larger when sitting inside your everyday freezer, it breaks the food consistency, which weakens the taste, thickness, solidity, etc. Food critics and many chefs, professional or not, can easily notice changes in food consistency, as it makes the food presentation underwhelming (in terms of taste and sometimes physical appearance).
Meanwhile, with liquid nitrogen keeping the food cold, the ice crystals are practically microscopic, which keeps the food consistency almost unchanged. This keeps the creaminess of ice cream at a pristine level, which is better than having a freezer breaking up the texture. It’s quite amazing how a gas can not only freeze food in the blink of an eye, but keep the food consistency unchanged. It’s definitely the most ideal way to freeze food, especially when it comes to making some great homemade liquid nitrogen ice cream!
We supply nitrogen canisters for anyone to rent at anytime. With our top-tier delivery system and team to help, we can provide industrial gas canisters at a low, flat rate with a simplified billing system that has no unexpected fees. All you pay for are the rental service and the gas. Nothing else. We especially appeal to the entertainment industry. If you’re managing a theatrical show or music tour, we can deliver for the entirety of your tour, no matter what kind of show or performance it is. Along with nitrogen, we also carry helium, propane, and carbon dioxide canisters, all of which are waiting to be rented. If you’re in need of a gas canister to use temporarily, you can check our gas delivery page to get started on your gas order. If you prefer to call instead, that’ll work. We’ll be available during the weekdays in the mornings and afternoons at 877-280-5321.