Introduction: Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream

after a long day of thanksgiving preparation, what better way to cool down than with a little homemade ice cream? only a sucker wants to wait for salt and ice. cryogenic cream is not only faster but has a better texture and allows the inclusion of ingredients (such as ethanol) that inhibit freezing in a traditional desert.

Step 1: Assemble Ingredients, Stir and Enjoy

you'll need LN2. buddy up to someone at a university or find a supply house that will
sell to you. in either scenario, you will need to obtain a dewar or thermos to safely transport
and insulate the nitrogen.

we considered two recipes but feel free to improvise.

bourbon ice cream:
start with sufficient cream in a metal bowl.
mix in sugar and old rip van winkle's 10-year-old bourbon to taste.

green chile ice cream:
start with sufficient cream in a metal bowl.
mix in sugar and horseman's green chile (levels 1 and 2) to taste

once the ingredients are well mixed, slowly add LN2 while stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until the stirring action becomes infeasible.

tasters generally agreed that the bourbon ice cream, while OK, wasn't painfully delicious.
much greater success has been documented using a peaty coastal scotch. the green chile
ice cream, on the other hand, was a wild success, taking deliciousness to unprecedentedly
high levels of pain.

remember that LN2 is quite cold so take appropriate handling precautions.

Step 2: Ancillary Commentary

A note on hard ice creams:

Under normal circumstances, high-proof ice creams are impossible. The
reason, of course, is that the freezing point of ethanol at normal
pressures is around -117C. When you are freezing your ice cream using ice
and rock salt, or even a state-of-the-art ice cream maker, temperatures
don't come even close to that low, and any attempt at hard liquor ice
cream will result only in ice cream soup, essentially just a well-chilled
white russian. The boiling point of N2, however, is around -195C, more
than sufficient to freeze that cocktail rock-hard. Thus, using LN2,
vodka ice cream becomes as straightforward to manufacture as vanilla.

A note on crystals:

The main advantage of LN2 ice cream, from a gastronomical point of view,
is not that it is so quick and easy to make, nor that it can be powerfully
alcoholic. Quite simply, LN2 makes significantly better ice cream. A
critical factor in ice cream deliciousness is crystal size. Crystals are
not delicious. This is why the top layer of ice cream that has thawed and
refrozen in your freezer is gummy and tastes bad - when it refroze, it did
so very slowly and with no stirring, and the result was large crystals.
This is also why you must constantly stir ice cream in a traditional
ice-and-salt ice cream maker. Decreasing crystal size improves not just
the texture, but the impressions of richness and flavor as well. When you
freeze your ice cream with LN2, the process is so fast that the crystals
have almost no time to form - as a result, the average crystal size in LN2
ice cream is far smaller than in conventional ice creams. Which means
that, if you choose your ingredients carefully, LN2 ice cream is very
close to the theoretical supremum of tastiness.

A note on Horseman's green chile:

What we know today as the New Mexican green chile was developed by
government scientists about a century ago, working at what is now New
Mexico State University, Las Cruces (http://www.chilepepperinstitute.org).
Chile growers have developed various arcane techniques, including
artificial cycles of watering and dehydration and of darkness and
sunlight, to induce the chiles to produce enormous amounts of spice
without compromising their flavor. Horseman's Haven, in Santa Fe,
purchases such specially tortured chiles and cooks them down into a
delicious and fiery stew, one of the hottest and tastiest dishes available
in the country. Green chile is a universal condiment in New Mexico - it
is available on burgers and pizzas from national chains there, and is good
on virtually everything. As it turns out, it makes an incredibly
delicious ice cream - the three-way contrast between the cold, comforting
cream, the delicious flavor, and the mind-searing heat is something we
definitely plan to enjoy again.

Comments

author
bigwhitebear18 made it!(author)2012-11-23

So, has anyone tried making ice cream with Liquid Helium. It's colder and the gas will make you sound funny.

author
M0HIZ made it!(author)2012-10-10

SAFETY NOTE TO EVERYONE WHO MIGHT TRY THIS; Please be very careful with liquid nitrogen. An 18 year old had to have her stomach removed the other day due to drinking liquid nitrogen in a cocktail. I'm not trying to disuade anyone from carrying out this project, just be careful and don't do anything stupid.

author
pudtiny made it!(author)2012-10-16

Thats a fair warning but when making ice cream all of the ln2 boils off in the making process (yes i have made it). I fear the girl who was in the news swallowed some of the liquid and it then turned to gas in her stomach and popped it.

author
M0HIZ made it!(author)2012-10-16

OK. I didn't realise that the LN2 boiled off.

author
pudtiny made it!(author)2012-10-16

Boil off is the common term used when liquid nitrogen goes from liquid to gas, cooling as it goes. I use it most days in the lab and had to go through training to use it but many are unaware of the safety aspects of using it. Like most chemicals treated with respect it is safe to use, get a bit cocky and you could have problems.

author
M0HIZ made it!(author)2012-10-16

Fair enough. Thanks for the explanation.

author
Paymeister made it!(author)2011-11-25

Re getting a chance to try this when you don't have an $800 Dewar flask...

My plan is to make up the cream base, get a couple of big bowls and spoons, and trot on over to the welding supply place. We'll enlist their aid, make it on their dock (sans Dewar), have a blast, and the staff will get their bowl and my pals and I will get ours. Everyone wins!

author
Trigonography made it!(author)2010-03-19

 When I was a kid, one of my mom's friends got us a container of LN2 to make ice cream for our homeschooling group and to teach some basic chemistry.  We discovered two things: One, you just can't get awesome strawberry chocolate-chunk ice cream any other way. Two, you'll never get a kid's attention faster than by saying "I could land myself in the hospital doing this! Wanna try?"

Okay, and a third thing: Food, danger, and science are the best combination in the world.

author
mutput7 made it!(author)2011-01-05

"I could land myself in the hospital doing this! Wanna try?"
Well, yeah [DUH]!!!

author
craig3 made it!(author)2010-04-05

even just danger and science is an awesome combo

author
Teslas+brother made it!(author)2007-12-06

Turkey Tek, where can I get the Horsemans chile? I lived in Santa Fe for 6 years and used it on nearly everything but, I can't find it any where where i live now. Is there a web site that sells good green chile that you know of? I found a local gas/welding shop that sells the LN2 for 350 a litre in 5 litre quantities by the way so I am just waiting to find the green chile. Thanks for the great post!

author
turkey+tek made it!(author)2007-12-16

Unfortunately, I don't have a web source :( We basically have an agent in santa fe who personally picks it up and mails it to us.

author
instructing+tables made it!(author)2008-01-05

uh where can i get some liquid nitrogen?

author
Derin made it!(author)2008-08-20

vets,maybe?they use ln2 to cool down boxes to put in cow sperm,what they do with those stuff is inappropiate...at least for this website

author
Mirime made it!(author)2010-11-29

cows have ebryos bulls have sperm

cow - female bovine, bull- male bovine

author
looking4ideas made it!(author)2008-09-21

have any idea where i can get some in turkey ?

author
Derin made it!(author)2008-11-14

Damızlık Birliği

author
Derin made it!(author)2008-11-14

en azından biz oradan alıyorduk

author
Matt+D655 made it!(author)2008-07-17

My advice to you is that u shouldnt make it because for 2 reasons- A:First being that LN2 is toxic B:It is expensive and you can get reasonable icecream at your local grocery store.

author
Sylkhr made it!(author)2009-05-05

If you wanna breathe something toxic try HCN (cyanide)

author
lasermaster3531 made it!(author)2009-03-11

LN2 is not toxic! nitrogen is 79% of the air you all breath every second of every day!! LN2 is only dangerous because it's cold. if nitrogen was toxic, we never would have made it out of the primordial soup! seriously, do research before you make broad generalizations and unfounded statements.

author
timberframe made it!(author)2009-03-06

My medical doctor is the one who told me about making ice cream this way. Of cause he knew I had enough sense (if I could find a source) to not put the stuff on my skin, especially since he was 'burning' a mole off of me during the discussion. As to point B, I think this one is more for the fun than for the cheapness. That or the bourbon. They just don't carry bourbon ice cream in my grocery stores. If they do in yours, where do you shop??

author
mdj817 made it!(author)2008-09-17

Please stop feeding the misconception that LN2 is toxic! LN2, obviously, is liquid nitrogen. Nitrogen composes about 80% of the air we breathe, hardly toxic. Obviously, if you only breathe Nitrogen, you won't get oxygen and *could* die, but you'd have to consciously stick your head in a chamber of it. As far as liquid nitrogen goes, drinking anything at -195 Centigrade would probably kill you. You might want to get your nerd license updated :-P

author
hammertong made it!(author)2008-11-24

Nitrogen is not toxic. Any time you remove all the oxygen from the air you will asphyxiate and die, but breathing (in a well-ventilated area) in nitrogen will definitely not kill you. Air is 21% oxygen, & 79% nitrogen. You actually breathe out 16% oxygen. (percentages are approximate) Unless you are breathing directly over the bowl you pour the LN2 into, which would probably hurt your trachea and lungs, you should suffer no adverse consequences.

author
mdj817 made it!(author)2008-11-24

I totally agree! Hence the "obviously" at the beginning of sentence 3. *high five!*

I love it when we agree and can just all get along :-D
Now let's hold hands and sing kumbuyah!

author
hammertong made it!(author)2008-11-25

A: First being that LN2 is toxic Well, we know that's not true. B: It is expensive and you can get reasonable icecream at your local grocery store. You can get Ice cream anywhere, but is it as cool (no pun intended) as this? Super cold, homemade, ice cream! It tastes all sciencey and stuff. Like those mad-scientist kits for kids where you make gummy guts and candy brains.

author
looking4ideas made it!(author)2008-11-16

Oooooo Burrrrrned =P

author
eldavoloco made it!(author)2010-01-05

 There's a cocktail called the Bourbon Milk Punch that uses essentially the same ingredients as your bourbon ice cream recipe, with the addition of some vanilla extract. You should try adding some...it's an awesome flavor combination!

author
Matt+D655 made it!(author)2008-07-17

Ive never personally done this and gentlemen i have a piece of advice for you and a good one- Dont wear gloves when handling liquid nitro,my dad and I did an experiment with liquid nitro one time we put gloves on and the gloves got frozen.

author
jmurockstar made it!(author)2008-09-18

a frozen glove is preferable to a shattered hand in my opinion.

author
lasermaster3531 made it!(author)2009-03-11

virtually impossible. liquid nitrogen has a boiling point so low that it beads off the skin instead of sitting on it and freezing your hand off. if you cool rubbing alcohol with dry ice and dip your hand in that, you will get instant frostbite, but liquid nitrogen doesn't actually come into contact with your flesh, rather it evaporates about .5 of a millimeter away, leaving your hand encased in a thin film if insulating nitrogen gas. this phenomenon is why you can gargle liquid nitrogen and not freeze your tongue off.

author
generator made it!(author)2009-12-24

 i've 'burned' myself with liquid nitrogen on my skin. it may not actually freeze you, but it still hurts really really bad!

author
jmurockstar made it!(author)2009-08-13

The Leidenfrost phenomenon breaks down as the surface temp decreases. heat energy is being sucked out of your hand, and it will freeze if you expose it to the liquid nitrogen long enough.

author
NobodyInParticular made it!(author)2009-03-06

Actually a potholder would be the safest. If you pour liquid nitrogen over your hand, it rapidly boils off. Whereas if you soak the glove, it can be trapped close to your skin for long enough to cause frostbite.

author
DoWatt made it!(author)2007-11-22

You can use dry ice (CO2) to make ice cream, and its easier to get hold of.

That's what Heston Blumenthal suggests in his home ice cream recipe here

author
rookie1 made it!(author)2007-11-28

CO2 can be dangerous to work with. It displaces O2. Use in a well vented area. It is heavier than O2 so don't sit low. (I'm a worrier) Have fun. This sounds good.

author
looking4ideas made it!(author)2008-09-21

thats what makes it soo much fun. The Danger factor !!

author
natethegreat88 made it!(author)2009-10-01

"Ok kids. We're going to make some ice cream that could kill you if you do it wrong."

author
Shentianqi made it!(author)2009-01-31

O2 is oxygen... O2 can't be heavier than O2 either since it's the same gas.

author
johnnyscolex made it!(author)2009-03-08

but CO2 isnt

author
ReCreate made it!(author)2009-03-26

or you could overclock your PC with it

author
NobodyInParticular made it!(author)2009-03-06

Is there any danger of using too much alcohol? I imagine biting down on a -174F crystal of ethanol would be unhealthy.

author
awang8 made it!(author)2008-12-17

How much is 5 litres of LN2? I'm going to make super explosive bo- I mean super delicious ice cream.

author
AnarchistAsian made it!(author)2008-10-31

ooohh!!! liquid nitrogen is awesome :D

author
crafty_crayons made it!(author)2008-10-30

wher do u buy liquid nitrogen??

author
solmstea made it!(author)2008-10-24

Man, liquid nitrogen ice cream was my favorite college treat (and in the physics department, we made it a lot of it...). The only problem is it takes some serious muscles to stir it vigorously enough so that it's not icy (at least, in the large quantities we were producing). But fun and not at all dangerous! (and you don't have to wear a gas mask, but goggles are recommended).

author
JettyMae made it!(author)2008-08-18

your wearing a gas mask n protective gloves and then your going to make ice cream and eat it...
~Whatever floats your boats. your crack boats i mean! =) =) =)
~Ashley

author
frollard made it!(author)2008-09-25

just because the component parts are dangerous to say, skin and eyes, does not mean the end product will be dangerous or toxic...unless you have sensitive teeth ;)

author
Cristian+Lavaque made it!(author)2006-04-28

This looks pretty cool, but I'm a bit worried about mixing the nitrogen as part of the cream. I'm not educated on what it'd cause, so I'm asking if it's really safe or just a bit risky-but-who-cares-if-it-only-happens-once-every-few-months kind of thing. :P

author
turkey+tek made it!(author)2006-04-28

oh it's COOL alright :)

i expect that it nearly all boils off except for some tiny
bubbles trapped in the frozen cream. mostly just
being used for it's cooling properties.

as mentioned, N2 is pretty unreactive and
already abundant in typical cooking environs.

http://www.terrific-scientific.co.uk/Pages/AtomicStructure/atomic_structure5.htm

...nitric oxides are a whole 'nother story.

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Bio: thanksgiving! ...and bringing technology to this traditional celebration of excess.
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