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Nitrogen in the kitchen? The ultimate tools…

Liquid Nitrogen & Dry Ice

What is Liquid Nitrogen?

Basically, liquid nitrogen is nitrogen which is held in a liquid state at a very low temperature. At normal atmospheric pressure liquid nitrogen boils at -196° C and is a cryogenic fluid which causes rapid freezing on contact with food and fresh produce.

The use of liquid nitrogen in the Food Industry is well established in the frozen foods market.

However, in recent years chefs like Heston Blumenthal, Ferran and Albert Adrià, Dani Garcia and Kristof Coppens, to name but a few, have openly developed the use of liquid nitrogen cooking into an avant-garde cooking technique.

On immediate contact with food, liquid nitrogen boils and envelops food, rapidly evaporating the liquid nitrogen into plumes of nitrogen gas bubbles which crystalise and freeze.

As a result a kind of “steam” of nitrogen bubbles is formed which solidifies into micro-crystals to freeze food instantaneously.

Whereas freezing food with a conventional freezer can form large ice crystals within the products that degrade their integrity and nutritional value, smaller ice crystals are formed when flash freezing with nitrogen, keeping foods intact and making for ultra smooth textures, non-existent freezing affects in the mouth and intensified smells and flavours.

Use in the Kitchen

Chefs can use liquid nitrogen in their cooking in many various ways, including:

  • Instantaneous ice cream or sorbets.
  • Quick freezing of ingredients for grinding or effortlessly breaking into pieces interesting textural and visual variations for instance, perfect sweet/savoury spheres of purées with hard shells and flavoured creams that look like popcorn
  • Making liquid centres for meringues and truffles
  • Creating fun dishes like popcorn, real and faux meringues and aerated cakes that create a “dragon’s breath” affect when the diner exhales “smoke” through their nostrils
  • Performing creations in front of the customer like lollipops, ice cold moulds and chocolate spaghetti on a Nitro-Teppan or anti-griddle.