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Cooking with Liquid Nitrogen

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#31 Shalmanese

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Posted 23 July 2005 - 10:17 AM

The other risk is soaking into clothing - that is BAD.  There are plenty of lab rats who work with the stuff that will tell you that the best way to handle LN2 is naked. 

An example of a really bad thing to do is to spill some so it goes in your shoes.  You'll lose a bunch of flesh that way.

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Naked and shaved preferably. Hair + LN2 = BAD too.
PS: I am a guy.

#32 Patrick S

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Posted 23 July 2005 - 10:44 AM

My father used to regularly win bets from his colleagues at MIT by gargling liquid nitrogen.  I'm not sure what the trick was, but he never burned himself.  I'll have to ask him about it.

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Interesting. There is a picture of a girl doing this here. I think I'd pass on that one!
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#33 Patrick S

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Posted 23 July 2005 - 10:49 AM

The other risk is soaking into clothing - that is BAD.  There are plenty of lab rats who work with the stuff that will tell you that the best way to handle LN2 is naked. 

An example of a really bad thing to do is to spill some so it goes in your shoes.  You'll lose a bunch of flesh that way.

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Naked and shaved preferably. Hair + LN2 = BAD too.

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And besides, what could possibly be more sexy than a bunch of naked and shaved lab rats exploring the mysterious ways of LN2? Add some MDMA, loud techno music, and flashing lights, and you have yourself a fine rave . . .
"If you are irritated by every rub, how will you be polished?" - Rumi

#34 nathanm

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Posted 23 July 2005 - 10:54 AM

My father used to regularly win bets from his colleagues at MIT by gargling liquid nitrogen.  I'm not sure what the trick was, but he never burned himself.  I'll have to ask him about it.

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Yes, amoung irresponsible things that science types do with LN2, this is one of them.

I have not done it myself - I'm crazy, but not that crazy. I am sure it can be done, but it would seem that if it isn't done just right you'd have a real problem.
Nathan

#35 Wendy DeBord

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Posted 23 July 2005 - 05:07 PM

Is there any chance someone would do a demo on this? I think we'd all be thrilled to see someone working with it.

Please, please, please, etc..........

#36 edsel

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Posted 23 July 2005 - 06:00 PM

Wendy, I hope you're not asking for a demo of the naked-and-shaved nitro treatment. :laugh: :laugh:
Louisa Chu has an account of Albert Adrià's oil-encapslated-in-sugar thang here. I'm wondering how he gets the oil encapsulated in the sugar coating - does he super-freeze it wit LNG? Enquiring minds want to know. :smile:

#37 nathanm

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Posted 23 July 2005 - 07:17 PM

No, I believe that what he does is siply pour the oil into a blown sugar bubble.

You could freeze things and then coat them this way I suppose. Albert Adria does lots of other things with liquid nitrogen.
Nathan

#38 heidihi

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Posted 28 December 2005 - 06:52 PM

I was at a party the other night where someone brought a large tank of LN2 to make ice cream.

Some shots of the process, and detail shots of the consistency below. It was wonderfully smooth - soft-serve style ice cream meant to be consumed immediately.

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Mid-mix

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Ready to eat

-h

Edited by heidihi, 28 December 2005 - 06:52 PM.

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#39 _john

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Posted 28 December 2005 - 07:35 PM

I have let a thin stream of honey fall in to a styrofoam cooler full of liquid nitrogen to make "honey shards." They are very good on their own, but their main purpose is a garnish for ice cream. maple syrup and black strap molasses are also amazing. very thinly sliced fruits and vegetables can be made to mimic crunchy fried items as garnish for desserts. I have also experimented with shattering thin items to create shapes that are impossible to make with a knife. There was an experimental steak tartare made in this way.

very high temperatures can do amazing things as well. I read about a chef using lasers to cook bread from the inside out etc. can't find the article however.

#40 nathanm

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Posted 28 December 2005 - 08:07 PM

Great pictures!
Nathan

#41 jsolomon

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Posted 29 December 2005 - 05:39 AM

I'm having horrid little visions of someone balling up mashed potatoes and dropping it into LN2 with gravy so the outside is frozen and the inside is still hot and serving them to unsuspecting folks as a tapas item.

Right next to the glowing pickle ornament at the bar.

The Glowing Pickle Page

Edit to add: For LN2 Ice cream, the recipes I saw on the web vacillated between equal amounts of mix and LN2 to 5 parts LN2 to 1 part ice cream mix. Most recipes called for 1 part mix, 2 parts LN2. I vaguely remember Dr. Carr making it with 2 parts mix and 1 part LN2.

So, obviously, YMMV. But, I have to ask, after 10 years of lab-ratdom, are there that many lab-rats that you want to see naked, and shaved? I shudder at the thought of most of the ones I know.

Edited by jsolomon, 29 December 2005 - 05:44 AM.

I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

#42 heidihi

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Posted 29 December 2005 - 09:10 AM

Thanks Nathan,

_john - I you come across that article again, I would love to read it - please post.

With the batch of LN2 ice cream I observed, we started with about 4 cups of a pretty standard vanilla base in the the metal mixer bowl. Turned on the mixer, and started adding the LN2 gradually - a bit at a time over the course of about four minutes. Everything quickly firmed and fluffed up, the room we were in looked like a haunted house.

With the leftover LN2 they went out back with the Kitchen Aid mixing bowl a hammer, and a selection of things they were interested in freezing and then smashing.

- a whole onion (more impressive in theory - the core didn't seem to get cold enough, and it didn't really shatter the way I imagined it would)
- leafy herbs (kind of interesting - they ended up very dry, brittle, and flaky)
- a cigarette (similar to what happened to the herbs - the wrap around the tabacco got dry and brittle)

-h
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#43 Wendy DeBord

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Posted 31 December 2005 - 07:41 AM

I recieved the lastest issue of Pastry Art & Design (Decemeber 2005) yesterday and the whole issue is devoted to frozen desserts. Toward the back of the magazine Tish Boyle did a "how to" with Robert Ellinger on 'liquid nitrogen dip' and 'instant ice cream' as shown above in Heidihi's post.

#44 Shalmanese

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Posted 31 December 2005 - 08:36 AM

- a whole onion (more impressive in theory - the core didn't seem to get cold enough, and it didn't really shatter the way I imagined it would)
- leafy herbs (kind of interesting - they ended up very dry, brittle, and flaky)
- a cigarette (similar to what happened to the herbs - the wrap around the tabacco got dry and brittle)

-h

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Heh, it's funner to dip a cigarette in liquid oxygen and then hand it to an unsuspecting person. When they try and light it, it turns into a massive fireball which, fortunely, isn't hot enough to hurt anything.
PS: I am a guy.

#45 annecros

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Posted 31 December 2005 - 04:21 PM

Can you huff it?

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Yes.

But then your face would fall off, when it thaws.

#46 tan319

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Posted 01 January 2006 - 04:15 PM

A scientist who's little girl goes to school with my daughter was telling me about an accident with a bunch of NASA scientists who were wiped out by the odorless vapors in a improperly ventilated room.
I guess maybe not as much of a chance of that happening in a pro kitchen with hoods but...
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#47 BryanZ

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Posted 08 March 2006 - 11:47 AM

But where can home cooks get liquid nitrogen? Give me a source and I'll get some.

#48 Shalmanese

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Posted 08 March 2006 - 08:36 PM

But where can home cooks get liquid nitrogen?  Give me a source and I'll get some.

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Scientific and Medical supply stores. Although some are a bit more picky about who can buy. If your near a university (which, IIRC, you are), you can sometimes just rock up to the chemisty department with a thermos and they'll fill it for you then and there.

Be careful though, it's not especially dangerous but there are some precautions you have to take.
PS: I am a guy.

#49 slkinsey

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Posted 09 March 2006 - 06:28 AM

My father used to win bets around MIT by gargling liquid nitrogen. Just like dipping your hands into a pot of boiling water, I imagine there are ways to dip one's hands into liquid nitrogen without being burned. Still, though, I wouldn't recommend it. Liquid nitrogen is still something that can hurt you quite badly if you're cavalier about the way you use it. I'd much rather be hit in the eye with a splashed droplet of boiling water than a splashed droplet of liquid nitrogen.
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#50 inventolux

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Posted 09 March 2006 - 08:38 AM

Not really dangerous at all


:huh: really, so how come all the pro's insist you use it in the books, Dani Garcia, El Bulli, both my meals at morimoto ny and fat ducky ?????

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The only "pros" with LN2 I know are the ones that work for the LN2 companies. I go through 1,000 litres of LN2 every week. Thats enough to be considered a pro, but I am far from a pro when it comes to the knowlegde the scientists have. I can tell you LN2 is no more hazardous that working with gas burners. One just has to be careful to have adequete hvac and dont keep your hands in the thick fog or liquid for too long. The rules of engagement are similar to a gas flame. If anything, gas is MORE dangerous because it can blow up the kitchen if youre not careful.
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#51 inventolux

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Posted 11 March 2006 - 10:08 AM

The only "pros" with LN2 I know are the ones that work for the LN2 companies. I go through 1,000 litres of LN2 every week. Thats enough to be considered a pro, but I am far from a pro when it comes to the knowlegde the scientists have. I can tell you LN2 is no more hazardous that working with gas burners. One just has to be careful to have adequete hvac and dont keep your hands in the thick fog or liquid for too long. The rules of engagement are similar to a gas flame. If anything, gas is MORE dangerous because it can blow up the kitchen if youre not careful.



That's a little ridiculous. People are not blowing up kitchens with any regularity.
Telling people not to wear gloves and goggles when working with Ln2 is irresponsible.

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That just proves my point, kitchens dont blow up just like only someone who has no idea what they are doing will injur themselves with LN2. Do we work with gloves when we cook or wear a mask when we pan fry to prevent oil from splattering into our eyes? No, but accidents happen. Ever heard of someone in a kitchen losing a finger or getting a 3rd degree burn because of LN2? I have not. Thats not to say we arent extrememly careful when we work with it. We are very respectful of the element, just like we are careful when working with any gastro techniques/devices.

This is like SARS in my book, more people have died from drunk drivers in the past 60 seconds than the entire history SARS has existed, yet everyone freaks out when they hear about SARS.
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#52 McAuliflower

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Posted 11 March 2006 - 02:56 PM

Liquid N2 can also supposedly be obtained from welding suppliers.

I have burned myself when using liquid nitrogen in the lab. It sputters when you add wet items to it. However- the saving grace to not frequently hurting yourself with it is that it evaporates very quickly.

Also, proper liquid N2 gloves do not absorb the stuff. The gloves are neccesaary as the liquid N2 vapor is extremely cold as well. In fact, it is the vapor we use to keep our samples in the lab frozen, rather than submerging them in the liquid. The liquid is too prone to contamination issues.

An additonal safety mention- liquid N2 is explosive if contained in a traditional home /food thermos or any sealed container. All containers holding liquid N2 must have a vent release.
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#53 slkinsey

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Posted 11 March 2006 - 03:06 PM

That just proves my point, kitchens dont blow up just like only someone who has no idea what they are doing will injur themselves with LN2. Do we work with gloves when we cook or wear a mask when we pan fry to prevent oil from splattering into our eyes? No, but accidents happen.

This really isn't a very valid argument. Body temperature is 37C. Frying oil is typically something like 190C, for a difference of 153C. The boiling point of liquid nitrogen is -196C, for a difference of 233C. In order for there to be an equivalent difference in temperature, the frying oil would have to be 270C, aka 518F. Do I think that people should wear safety gear if they are working with an oil at 518F? You bet I do. Liquid nitrogen also has a significantly higher specific heat than typical frying oils. What this all means is that being hit in the eye with a splatter of LN2 would be much worse than being hit in the eye with a splatter of oil from a fryer. Somehow I have a hard time imagining someone working with their bare hands a few inches above the surface of a 518F fryer.
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#54 inventolux

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Posted 12 March 2006 - 10:02 AM

That just proves my point, kitchens dont blow up just like only someone who has no idea what they are doing will injur themselves with LN2. Do we work with gloves when we cook or wear a mask when we pan fry to prevent oil from splattering into our eyes? No, but accidents happen.

This really isn't a very valid argument. Body temperature is 37C. Frying oil is typically something like 190C, for a difference of 153C. The boiling point of liquid nitrogen is -196C, for a difference of 233C. In order for there to be an equivalent difference in temperature, the frying oil would have to be 270C, aka 518F. Do I think that people should wear safety gear if they are working with an oil at 518F? You bet I do. Liquid nitrogen also has a significantly higher specific heat than typical frying oils. What this all means is that being hit in the eye with a splatter of LN2 would be much worse than being hit in the eye with a splatter of oil from a fryer. Somehow I have a hard time imagining someone working with their bare hands a few inches above the surface of a 518F fryer.

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I can dunk my hand in LN2, one cant do that with 500f oil. The difference is the rate that LN2 goes through evaporation and therefore loses its ability sustain a temperature (by decreasing its density) longer than hot oil, or even hot water. So the comparison of temperatue alone simply doesnt work.

I have been splattered plenty of times with LN2, not a single injury. I have plenty of war wounds from other "safe" kitchen devices and ingredients. In fact we have used LN2 on a hot burn immediately after contact in order to reduce the effects heat can have on skin. A very useful tool indeed.

Not only do my blue gloves absorb LN2 but they have also cracked because the LN2 obliterates the polymer fibers they are made of. Perhaps they arent the best pair, but I did get the most expensive I could find from one of the largest LN2 suppliers. I just find them useless and they make my hands freeze. Everyone in my kitchen will tell you the same.

Edited by inventolux, 12 March 2006 - 08:10 PM.

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#55 inventolux

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Posted 19 March 2006 - 09:56 AM

Here is something of interest.

Take a smoker and point the smoke into a bath of LN2. Freeze the smoke. There is one more thing that must be added to the frozen smoke to complete the effect. (Because this technique is patent pending for something other than food, I cant say but if you play around with it a bit it will come to you). Place the "frozen smoke" onto a plate and watch it disappear into thin air without any heating element whatsoever.

You can also place oysters into LN2 and seconds later they automatically shuck themselves. That one saves a ton of time.

The liquid encapsulation process from alginates to HPMC and CMC can also be shaved from hours to mere seconds.
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#56 Kieranm

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Posted 21 March 2006 - 03:26 AM

Very cool, everybody. Definitely some inspiration to start working with the stuff. Thanks!
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#57 ChefCartner

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Posted 29 April 2006 - 03:23 PM

I just recently got a tank into my kitchen. I see nothing but possibilities with this stuff...I need time to play with it. Heres a few pics from my first experience. I hope you like them.
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#58 inventolux

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Posted 29 April 2006 - 10:55 PM

Nice.
Who is your supplier?
I use Praxair. www.praxair.com
Try using styrofoam boxes for holding the LN2. It evaporates much much slower and it wont warp your cutting boards, and possibly make a hole in your steel counter tops.

I like to think of LN2 as the exact opposite of cooking or transferring heat.

Edited by inventolux, 29 April 2006 - 10:56 PM.

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#59 turkeybone

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Posted 30 April 2006 - 01:24 AM

Wow, this thread has really blown me away with some interesting ideas... a few questions arise..

(1) How do the oysters shuck themselves? Do the shells break apart or do they open magically... basically, is the shell lost in the process?
(2) For freezing things that normally dont freeze, how long do they last in that crystalline state? I'm thinking mostly about those pure honey garnishes.
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#60 Art

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Posted 01 May 2006 - 09:19 AM

Of course, the other thing you could do which has some great potential -- though no ideas jump out at me at the moment is "cooking with liquid oxygen".

If you have liquid nitrogen, you can have liquid oxygen anytime you need / want it. Liquid oxygen has a higher boiling temperature than LN2 (liquid nitrogen). This means that oxygen turns liquid at a higher temperature than LN2. So, the liquid nitrogen is capable of literally freezing the oxygen out of the surrounding air. Of course, you don't have enough LN2 to do this typically. However, it does not mean that you can't make it happen on demand.

We used to make a liquid oxygen "still" where we would make our own liquid oxygen. All we did was set up a styrofoam container and run some copper pipe around it it in a vertical coil with the coil coming out the bottom. We'd blow compressed air (slowly) through the copper tube and out the bottom would come air -- along with drops liquid oxygen that we'd catch in another container.

Needless to say, we had lots of fun with it. Probably the best was liquid oxygen plus steel wool plus a match. Molten steel goes flying everywhere. Of course, perhaps molten steel wool does not go well with food but I can see some real potential for charring something on demand. (Putting perhaps a new meaning on Blackened Steak.)

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