In our latest blog post, we take a look at how liquid nitrogen can be used in ice cream production to create a smooth and creamy treat.
On a hot summer’s day (well…hot for Britain), it’s been known for people to flock to the beach so they can soak up the sun rays and paddle in the sea. This is especially true where I come from, as I live in a small seaside town in the North of England.
Any sign of warm weather, and people quickly pull out their shorts and flip flops to wear, as it is likely the high temperatures won’t last long. To prove this point, it’s currently raining outside while I am writing this, even though it’s the start of July.
A tradition for most people when they go to a beach is get an ice cream, and in my local area the most popular type is a lemon top. For those unfamiliar with this concept, it’s a wafer cone topped with dairy ice cream and a blob of lemon sorbet.
Personally I find the sorbet too cold, and the heaviness of it melts the ice cream underneath, causing it to drip on my hand.
However it seems the majority of people would disagree as I always witness a queue outside at least one ice cream shop when I go for a run along the seafront.
This love affair with ice cream is nothing new, and the first public sale of this frozen treat was in Paris at Café Procope in the late 17th century.
The method to make ice cream back then was much more cumbersome and time-consuming, and because ice was expensive and refrigeration had not yet been invented, it was considered to be only available to the wealthy or those in colder climates.
How can liquid nitrogen be used to make ice cream?
Over time the process of making ice cream has developed, making it easier to produce, and one of the most recent techniques incorporates using liquid nitrogen.
Liquid nitrogen is essentially the gas nitrogen (N2) but it has been cooled to such a low temperature (-196°c) that it becomes liquid.
It can freeze ice cream fast which makes it taste smooth and creamy. This is because rapid freezing produces small ice crystals which won’t hinder the texture of the frozen food. The longer it takes to freeze, the larger the ice crystals will be, which can cause ice cream to become grainy.
Don’t try this at home – the dangers of nitrogen
There are several online articles and recipes on how to make your own liquid nitrogen ice cream at home, but no matter how tempting it may be, it is strongly recommended that it is left to the professionals.
This is because nitrogen is an inert gas which can displace oxygen (O2) in the atmosphere if it is not handled correctly.
In its liquid form it has a large expansion ratio on evaporation. One litre of liquid nitrogen can turn into approximately 700 litres of gas, so only a small amount of liquid nitrogen has to evaporate within a room to result in an oxygen deficient atmosphere.
Oxygen makes up 21% of the atmosphere, and if it drops to 15-19% it can cause impaired thinking and attention, increased pulse and breathing rate and reduced coordination. Further drops can lead to abnormal fatigue, fainting, loss of consciousness and a risk of death.
When using nitrogen, either in gas or liquid form, it is important not to use it in a confined space, ensure it is stored safely and to have adequate ventilation.
It is also essential to have an oxygen depletion detector to monitor the levels of oxygen in the atmosphere, and we offer a range of fixed and portable oxygen gas detectors.
One of these is the O2NE+, an oxygen depletion monitor designed to detect the presence of low oxygen in ambient air. It provides two audio/visual alarms which are pre-set at 19.5% and 18% to warn of a potential leak which may cause the O2 levels to deplete to a dangerous level. However it can be adjusted to trigger an alarm at a different level of oxygen concentration to suit your requirements.
Author: Araminta Hartley, Content Writer
Founded in 1981, Analox Sensor Technology provides niche and custom gas detection solutions to industries including beverage and fast food, commercial diving and laboratories. Analox has over 325 years of collective, specialist electronics and software engineering expertise, as well as a worldwide distributor network. Contact us to see how we can provide expert gas monitoring solutions and help you achieve your goals.