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Perfect Ice Cream with Dry Ice

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liquid-nitrogen-ice-cream-hestonMaking ice cream with dry ice at home is a great alternative to using expensive professional ice cream makers. You will obtain creamy and smooth ice cream by minimizing the formation of ice crystals with this inexpensive technique. We briefly described the method of making ice cream with dry ice in the Ice Cream Makers lesson, but here we will explain the step by step process.

Dry ice is frozen carbon dioxide (CO2) at a temperature below -109.3 degrees Fahrenheit (-78.5 degrees C). These extreme cold temperature allows you to bring down the temperature of your ice cream base very fast while churning. And as we explained before, the faster you freeze ice cream, the smaller the ice crystals formed and the creamier the resulting ice cream. Because dry ice sublimates at such a low temperature, it will completely transition from solid into gas without leaving residue and leaving you with delicious, instantly frozen ice cream. Making ice cream with dry ice does not require a special kitchen tool, but rather can be made in stand mixer equipped with a paddle attachment.

Working with dry ice can be tricky if not done properly. The extreme cold makes the solid dry ice dangerous to handle without protection due to burns caused by freezing (frostbite). While generally not very toxic, the outgassing from it can cause hypercapnia due to buildup in confined locations. So be careful when you carry dry ice inside your car for example, open the windows to ensure the released CO2 gas leaves your car.

Dry ice may also be difficult to purchase in some areas. You'll have to go out and purchase dry ice right before making the ice cream since you can't store it for more than a few hours. Consuming dry ice is dangerous so you need to make sure it sublimates completely before consuming the ice cream but storing it overnight in the freezer will ensure all dry ice is gone.

Making Ice Cream with Dry Ice

You'll need about 4 to 5 lb of dry ice per quart of ice cream.

1- Keep dry ice block in the original plastic bag. Cover it with a cloth and over a hard surface, break it into smaller chunks using a hammer.

2- Blend the dry ice chunks in a blender or food processor to turn it into powder. Usually doing small batches in a food processor works better. Do not keep the lid closed for too long or it will blow up by the pressure buildup as the dry ice sublimates.

3- Place the ice cream base in the bowl of a stand mixer equipped with a paddle attachment, the one that you normally use for batters.

4- Stir the ice cream base at medium speed and slowly add scoops of powdered dry ice. Wait until the dry ice is completely sublimated before adding another scoop.

5- The ice cream is ready when the temperature drops to -5 °C (23 °F).

6- Place ice cream in a container, cover it with plastic wrap touching the surface and store it in the coldest part of the freezer to harden.