Liquid nitrogen helps make speedy, creamy ice cream. But this frigid liquid can be potentially hazardous if handled improperly. In this episode of Speaking of Chemistry, host Kerri Jansen visits food chemistry expert Matt Hartings at American University to discuss why people are screaming for liquid-nitrogen ice cream and learn how to minimize risks when serving it up.
Consumers should aim for ice cream that is soft and easy to scoop, Hartings says. Ice cream that is hard or crunchy may be too cold to eat safely.
A spokesperson for Dippin’ Dots, which uses liquid nitrogen to flash freeze beads of ice cream at its factory before shipping the frozen treat to stores, says its ice cream is stored at –40 °C (–40 °F) before it’s served to customers. At that temperature, the ice cream is considered safe to eat.
UPDATE: This story was updated on Oct. 29, 2018, to add additional information about the safe temperature for consuming liquid-nitrogen ice cream.