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Nitrous Oxide or Liquid Nitrogen

You’ve probably heard of nitro ice cream? Well if not then it’s as simple as regular ice cream but done at a high speed.

nitrogen or nitrous

nitrogen or nitrous

so why is that different from nitrous oxide, which is also used in the hi-tech chef world in the preparation of food? Well, to put it simple one is to avoid churning and the other is to avoid whipping. One is to create bubbles and the other is to not create crystals … now do you get it?

You can read as good a description as any on the science behind the wondrous nitro ice cream here but if I was to put it into a word I’d just say smooth!! When you are making ice cream then you are battling against the formation of ice crystals that will do their best to form given half a chance. The two ways that ice crystals have traditionally been avoided are by constantly churning and by adding ingredients that prevent the formation of the crystals.  When you make ice cream at home then you are probably using sugar and egg as the natural ingredients to prevent the crystals forming. However, over in the industrial world then things aren’t quite so nice read all about the additives in ice cream to see how they prevent the formation of ice crystals. So, how does this tie in with liquid nitrogen? Well, it is really just used as an agent for super-fast freezing. If you freeze anything fast enough then it’ll be hard for those pesky crystals to have much of a chance to do anything. Plus it looks cool because it “smokes”!

 

So, how’s that different from nitrous oxide? A good question… actually not at all really, yes liquid nitrogen and nitrous oxide both have the nitrogen atom in them – but that is like saying badgers are the same as elephants because they both have legs. The differences far out way the similarities… unless you think you can ride around the jungle on a badger collecting massive tropical hardwood logs? The nitrous oxide is used for creating a whipped topping for you ice cream, so if used in the correct way then nitrogen and nitrous can combine to make the perfect sundae….

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