Aug 17, 2019 | Updated: 07:24 AM EDT

Gourmet Ice Cream: Is Science the Secret?

Mar 13, 2019 07:49 AM EDT

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I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream. Well maybe not scream, but we all love ice cream just the same. I'm sure you're aware that all ice cream is not created equal, and the price we pay per scoop certainly reflects that. Notice the difference between an ice cream parlor's ice cream and that you might find at a convenience store. Nowhere near the same, right? What's the difference? What constitutes "gourmet" ice cream? Of course, we have the obvious differences, real fruit versus artificial flavors or cream instead of milk fat, but what is the real secret ingredient in gourmet ice cream?

First, let's take a more scientific look at ice cream. Ice cream is a mixture where all three states of matter exist. We look at the gas in the form of air bubbles that allow for scooping and licking from a cone. These air bubbles, or air pockets, come from the whipping of ice cream. Without them, ice cream would just be a dense blob of ice that's not much fun to eat. Then there's the liquid in the form of milk fat or cream, which gives ice cream its smoothness and creaminess. And of course, the solid in the form of ice crystals. The smaller the crystals, the more gourmet the ice cream becomes.

The basic recipe for ice cream is simple. The main ingredients are cream/milk, sugar, and flavoring. This concoction is then cooled to very, very low temperatures. Of course, you could just make ice cream with crushed ice and salt, utilizing freezing point depression, but that's boring; it wouldn't yield the same results and simply couldn't be referred to as "gourmet ice cream".

Making gourmet ice cream requires one very special ingredient and then ice cream officially becomes scientific to the coolest of degrees (pun intended). Enter liquid nitrogen. But why liquid nitrogen? Liquid nitrogen is extremely cold; it's -320 degrees Fahrenheit or -230 degrees Celsius, and makes for the smoothest, creamiest and gourmet-iest ice cream you can get. By instantly freezing the mixture, as in, on contact, much smaller ice crystals are formed and as we already know, smaller ice crystals make for better ice cream. Now, who would've thought that something so delicious could be so scientific?

With Summer right around the corner, why not treat yourself to the scientifically proven deliciousness of gourmet ice cream? Or any kind of ice cream for that matter, it's all delicious in its own right.

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