How It Was Started: Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream

Never before I found myself thinking at how could the Brits invented something so monumental in the culinary world other than the French. And this is why I should tell you about a lady once known as Agnes Marshall and her ice cream affairs, involving liquid nitrogen.

Agnes Marshall

The molecular gastronomy technique may perhaps was made known by Hervé This several decades ago and even more popular by celebrity chefs such as Heston Blumenthal or Ferran Adria. But many don’t know it was originally a Victorian era lady who actually invented the instant freeze technique for ice cream.

Of course it is also hard not to credit the French or the Austrian who were known for their excellence in culinary fields since long ago. It was also true that Agnes Marshall was once educated in Paris and Vienna. So there you go, a credit for you dear continental friends!

Liquid Nitrogen Ice Creams from Ron's Laboratory
Liquid Nitrogen Ice Creams from Ron’s Laboratory

 

However, the credit eventually goes back for Agnes Marshall as quoted from Hervé This’ book “Kitchen Mysteries: Revealing The Science of Cooking”:

“In 1901, at the Royal Institution of London, Agnes B. Marshall invented an ideal method for preparing ice cream or sorbet. It is ideal because, using her process, the ice crystals are tiny, as desired, and the preparation is extremely light because of the countless air bubbles introduced into it. And last but not least, the preparation can be made at the table, before your guests, in a few seconds. What is this marvelous contribution to gastronomy?

Agnes Marshall proposed abandoning the classic, old-fashioned ice cream maker for liquid air, or, more precisely, liquid nitrogen. This transparent liquid, present in all chemistry and physics laboratories, is nothing other than nitrogen from air that has been cooled to -196C. I do not have to tell you that that is very cold.

When it is (slowly) poured into a preparation for ice cream or sorbet, it vaporizes immediately, absorbing the preparation’s heat and instantly freezing it. Penetrated by the cold, the preparation becomes filled with tiny ice crystals, while the liquid air passes into a gaseous state; the air bubbles are trapped in the ice cream or sorbet.

The whole thing takes place in an impressive cloud of white mist, the same kind that is used in shooting films when the director asks for fog. A guaranteed success!”

Liquid Nitrogen Strawberry Ice Cream from LIN
Liquid Nitrogen Strawberry Ice Cream from LIN

That’s how impressively Hervé This described the whole invention done by Agnes Marshall so poetically that will surely make any scientific, nerdy, dessert-loving people run right away to the nearest ice cream parlor. That’s how we cherish upon the invention made by the lady, even I found from one source who describes Agnes Marshall as an “ice cream hottie”.

In addition to that, Agnes Marshall also published books about ice cream and cookery while also living a unique life at that time as a public lecturer, cooking instructor, and also running a school of cookery. It is much like nowadays dream job for young aspiring chefs in Indonesia, more than a century later after Mrs Marshall.

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