History of Nitrous (N2O), how and why it became the goto to make whipped cream and chargers

History of Nitrous (N2O), how and why it became the goto to make whipped cream and chargers

Nitrous Oxide - Why is it Important to Whipped Cream?

As many of you may know, nitrous oxide (N2O) has been the chosen gas for dentists and their patients for over 200 years. Its analgesic and anesthetic properties have kept many complacent and content during intense dental procedures. However, it begs the question for many chefs: What is this doing in my whipped cream?

Though the history of N2O has been centered around dentistry and intense procedures, this gas has made its way into the culinary world. This colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas is highly soluble in fat, making it a key contender for producing whipped cream.

If you’ve ever made whipped cream at home from scratch, you know that the intense labor of whisking the cream creates a great deal of air bubbles into heavy cream. By adding oxygen only, you increase the volume of your whipped cream by 2. However, the addition of N2O increases the volume by 4. Hello to fluffy topping!

An additional feature nitrous oxide has its ability to be a completely safe food additive. This is due to the fact that N2O is an inert gas, which means that it will not undergo chemical reactions under a set of given conditions. Nitrous oxide is mixed in a liquid form with your liquid ingredients inside a whipped cream dispenser, displacing oxygen in the process. By doing so, this keeps your whipped cream from going sour.

After you’ve mixed your ingredients inside your dispenser and inserted your whipped cream charger, you can happily press the lever of your dispenser, or whipped cream bottle, and witness the liquid N2O turn into a gas! As N2O turns into gas, it will turn your ingredients or cream into a foamy consistency with fluffy texture. 

It’s best to eat your whipped cream as soon as possible, because as the nitrous oxide reacts with oxygen surrounding it, it will return back to its original liquid state within 20 to 30 minutes.

In turn, if any other fixed gas or noble gas were to be used to produce whipped cream, well, it simply wouldn’t! In turn, it would produce a mist or pure liquid shooting out of the canister, which isn’t very promising for chefs looking for a fluffy topping. Some gases don’t have the proper chemical properties to even push the liquid out of the dispenser to form foam, so instead you’d find a can full of liquid unable to be released.

It’s definitely interesting to see how the infamous nitrous oxide has made its way into the culinary world after being a prevalent gas used for dentistry procedures. Without this gas, chefs and whipped cream fanatics alike would not be able to relish in the fluffy consistency of this delicious topping! The chemical properties of this inert gas has allowed it to become the key choice of serving whipped dishes and infused beverages with its ability to create millions of bubbles in a matter of seconds. By doing so, N2O allows chefs of all backgrounds to create bubbly beverages and cocktails all the way to fluffy garnishes and dips! 


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