In 1988, the ice cream of the future was born.
Curt Jones, a microbiologist with a sweet tooth, gave us a glimpse into a future trend when he built a mini cryogenic factory in his parents’ garage and flash-froze his first ice cream mix in liquid nitrogen.
The curious confection quickly found its audience, and his brand, Dippin’ Dots, moved their irresistible little beads beyond the quiet town of New Grand Chain, Illinois and into nearly every amusement park, shopping center, movie theater or stadium across America.
Embracing the Nitrogen-Infused Culinary Trend
Fast forward three decades to today where a new generation of nitrogen-infused drinks and food are satisfying the senses with a (literally) smoking array of culinary delights. You can find delicious new versions of scooped ice creams, cocktails, desserts, coffees and more masked with the futuristic fog of liquid nitrogen.
And while the FDA must continue to caution consumers to never ingest or touch liquid nitrogen directly due to the extremely low temperatures they maintain, it is perfectly harmless (outside of an overzealous consumer’s temporary brain freeze) when it is part of a product that is crafted well before consumption which gives the liquid nitrogen a moment to dissipate.
Cheers to Nitrogen-Infused Drinks
Nitro taps take a different approach to the kind of gas that is bubbled into your coffee or beer. While we may be used to carbon dioxide for our beverage’s fizz, drinks that need a rich or creamier froth get nitrogen instead.
Tiny nitrogen bubbles added to the brewing process create a velvety mouthfeel and thick frothy head that has always made Guinness a crowd favorite and is currently changing the cold brew conversation at many neighborhood coffee shops.
Mixologists rarely miss out on a trend that combines appearance, taste and showmanship, so more and more bars are implementing interesting new nitrogen-infused cocktails to their menu.
Dave Arnold, the French Culinary Institute’s director of culinary technology, uses a technology he affectionately named “nitro muddling” that takes common cocktail components like herbs and spices (which would typically get caught in a straw or your teeth) and flash freezes them with liquid nitrogen. After mixing with alcohol and shaking, they’re poured into glasses that are conveniently pre-chilled via more liquid nitrogen.
Nikken Foods Flavor Tip: We love adding Red Miso Powder (6100) to coffee to cut the bitterness and double down on flavor. Plus, when it’s combined with creamer, it provides a much richer, creamier mouthfeel that can’t be beat.
Feasting on Nitrogen-Infused Foods
The same strategy is being used by celebrated chefs around the world to make delicious, frosted desserts among other things.
By using liquid nitrogen to freeze ingredients at extreme temperatures, you can enhance the flavor in incredible ways making it a decadent treat for any palette.
Chef Jansen Chan, Director of Pastry at the International Culinary Center, said “Some customers are certainly willing to pay more for the showmanship and customization of liquid nitrogen ice cream, both of which provide a huge marketing advantage.”
And while ice cream is traditionally the go-to dessert to infuse with liquid nitrogen, don’t miss out on where this trend is headed. More and more foodies are looking for a different experience with their meal. They want a story and the marriage of technology and food is proving a satisfying treat.
To that end, even hamburgers are getting the liquid nitrogen treatment as slow-cooked patties are dipped into liquid nitrogen to provide a frozen exterior that is then deep fried and served with a perfect crispy crust that leaves a wonderful medium-cooked interior.
As this trend gains popularity, more chefs will experiment with flash-freezing delicate foods and ingredients to see what creations may come (and what patrons come flooding in after).
Nikken Foods Flavor Tip: Our favorite flavor is definitely green tea! To help create the perfect allergen-free flavor, we add Matcha green tea powder (8770) to our mix for an indulgent, umami ice cream flavor.
Finding Your Favorite Frozen Flavor Starts with the Ingredients
While the wispy, smoky look, science-forward approach and dragon breath results of nitrogen-infused food and drink make it a particularly popular item for restaurants and distributors to market, one constant will always remain: it must taste good.
Yes, food and drink will only ever be as powerful as how they taste. To that end, Nikken Foods offers a variety of all-natural powdered ingredients and cutting-edge processes to bring out the best flavor in every dish. Our in-house food scientists work with you to bring out the perfect flavor for your culinary creation.
Visit www.nikkenfoods.com to discover the highest quality of fresh ingredients for your food, (frozen or otherwise).