Has anyone tried using a food processor to make ice cream with liquid nitrogen?

Since the container is not made of steel but hard plastic, I am wondering if it is ok to use a food processor to do the stirring. I presume the plastic will turn into extremely brittle glass as soon as the nitrogen is poured in. Has anyone tried this?

  • I've never used liquid nitrogen (except for medical purposes as a veterinary technician), so I can't really answer this question. But my gut reaction is a vehement NOOOOO! – Jolenealaska Nov 18 '13 at 6:26
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    The "usual" way to do this is with a stand mixer, not a food processor. – Cascabel Nov 18 '13 at 6:34
  • Would a food processor even have enough torque to whip through freezing ice cream; it seems like they're set up more for speed. – Nick T Nov 18 '13 at 16:31
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    @NickT Even if it does, flat blades spinning through it won't do that much good - you need something more like whipping, good circulation. – Cascabel Nov 18 '13 at 16:38

As someone who uses liquid nitrogen as part of their daily routine (in a lab) and who has made liquid nitrogen ice cream on several occasions, my advice would be to not use a plastic container to hold liquid nitrogen unless it's designed to.

Yes, the plastic vessel may become brittle and may fracture. I have seen some materials shatter with extreme violence when frozen with liquid nitrogen; do not attempt this. Vessels for handling cryogenic liquids are designed especially for the job, and made from materials such as stainless steel, styrofoam, teflon, HDPE or silvered borosilicate glass. Unless you know with certainty that your container is designed to withstand temperatures of -196 °C (-321 °F), do not attempt this procedure.

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    Silvering glass does nothing to improve it's structural properties when exposed to cryogenic temperatures; all it does is reduce radiative heating. – Nick T Nov 18 '13 at 18:22
  • Yep, I know. It is however a good indicator that the grade of glass is suitable for low temperature applications. – long Nov 18 '13 at 18:24

Another likely event is that the processors metal blade can break off from it's plastic holder as it is spinning along with the container failure. This could get lethal.

  • Ye...I thought it would be too risky. I am going to make it with a mixing bowl, whisk and wooden spoon. long: can you give some advice? How do you generally approach this? I am thinking having one person pour the LN and then I will stir the mixture generously to minimize crystal size. – l3win Nov 20 '13 at 2:06
  • read the LN2 primer first. Whisk will likely fail and wooden spoon may not get you there. You may be able to use a hand mixer or even the manual version of it. Since you'll both be so close to the action, I'd say just do it outside with proper safety gear, then you can actually enjoy the process :) – MandoMando Nov 20 '13 at 15:36

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