Instructables

Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream

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Picture of Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream
Making liquid nitrogen ice cream is easier than you think! We decided to make it at the Instructables Ice Cream Social and its smooth and creamy texture is totally unique in the ice cream world.

Why is liquid nitrogen (LN2) ice cream "creamier" than regular ice cream? 

The secret to creamy ice cream is the rapid freezing of the fat and water particles. The faster the ice cream can be frozen, the fewer ice crystals that can form, the creamier the concoction. 

Safety "Ingredients"

Liquid Nitrogen boils at −321 °F. Which means, holy guacamole that is cold! You'll be want to careful not to expose your skin to it or hold your hand in it, unless you're trying to lose a limb. A drop on the arm isn't going to kill you, your body temperature will ensure that the LN2 rapidly boils off, but it will feel very cold.

Here's what you need to safely make LN2 Ice Cream:

One dewar (a super insulated flask designed to hold LN2). I do not recommend using a regular store bought thermos. It may hold the LN2, but will rapidly degrade and fall apart, frozen apart by the extremely cold temperature within. Dewars are expensive, so if you have a friend at a chemistry lab, check there first.

Gloves -- you can try oven mitts or household cleaning gloves that go up your arm

A strong wooden spoon -- a metal spoon will conduct the cold and make it really uncomfortable to mix your liquid nitrogen ice cream. Go with wood.

A giant bowl

Liquid Nitrogen -- 
 the best part. This can be purchased on site at Air Gas or similar industrial gas outlets. Expect it to cost anywhere from $3 - $8 a liter. 

Your delicious ice cream recipe (mixed together, but not frozen)


Got all that? Good! We're ready to make Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream!

 
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Step 1: Making Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream: Technique

Picture of Making Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream: Technique
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There's definitely an art to making creamy LN2 ice cream. First things first, I recommend using a recipe with a custard ice cream base such as this one. I also tried out six of the recipes from The Perfect Scoop. They are UHmazing.

If all that sounds too fancy for your taste, you can also just eyeball cream, sugar, vanilla and your favorite condiments into your mixing bowl and freeze that with LN2. But, IMHO, fancy pants ice cream custards are the way to go.

So, you've got your base, ready to be frozen. Here's the deal. You're going to need roughly 1L of LN2 for every litre of ice cream base. If you're like me and bought 30L of LN2 this would be way to dangerous to pour from a 30L dewar. In which case, you should move part of your 30L LN2 into a smaller, lighter, more manageable, container that you can use to pour directly into the bowl.

Did I mention this is a two woman job? That's right. If you're making LN2 ice cream, you should be making it with friends because it's a TOTAL spectacle to behold. So grab a friend seems thrilled by working with dangerous materials, as opposed to being scared by them, and you're golden. 


Here we go:

1. Pour your custard ice cream base into your big bowl. Put on your gloves (the both of you) and get your wooden spoon ready.
2. With your LN2 in a smaller dewar, SLOWLY pour the LN2 into the custard mixture. Stir gently. Blow on the smoke so you can see what you're mixing (and wow the audience that has grown around the table at the sight of smoke everywhere).
3. Pace is the key. Continue to slowly pour LN2 into the custard mixture at a slow, measured pace. Continue stirring. Eventually you will feel the mixture coming together. At this point, stir more vigorously. 
4. Suddenly it will be come a heck of a lot harder to stir. You're almost there. Stir for you LIFE! Scrape down the sides which are no doubt frozen to the bowl and whip that up!
5. Check out what's in your bowl. It's ice cream! Grab cones, spoons, bowls ... whatever it takes, and eat it up.
6. Repeat with another type of ice cream base.
7. Gain major nerd cred. 
lux4x41 year ago
I am a total stupid!!!I From 18 years i work in a LN2 plant in Italy and never make this???? i am very stupid!!
This seems pretty cool. I'm wondering if it would be possible to mix this up in my Kitchenaid mixer using the beater attachment that scrapes down the sides as it mixes.

Any thoughts?
Yes, you can. Go to Steve Spangler's science website and they show him using on just like that. I have done this with my Cub Scouts and my son's third grade class and it is a blast. Show them Boyle's Law by blowing up a balloon and then freezing your breath by immersing the balloon in the bowl with LN2. Once you remove it, the balloon will expand back to where it was.
coolo522 years ago
this looks really cool 5 stars
I clearly live way too close to an AirGas store... about 1/2 mile. This is going to be my best lunch ever!
where do you get LN2
at Airgas as stated in the article.
Hey! there is an ice cream shop in utah that does the same thing! Except they do a cool show with all of the fog coming off the ice cream.
angelabchua3 years ago
need moar izz creemz pleez
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zazenergy (author)  angelabchua3 years ago
Best photo evar.
mikeasaurus3 years ago
Smokey ice cream creation? Spooky-delicious!
SHIFT!3 years ago
This ice cream is as delicious in person as it is on screen!