By Heather Mendiola
On Friday, Oct. 24, the Chemistry Club kicked off Homecoming Weekend as it has done every year for over a decade: with its liquid-nitrogen ice-cream social.
Though the temperature called for sweaters, jackets and scarves, there was still a line of students, alumni and faculty waiting for the liquid-nitrogen ice cream.
To create liquid-nitrogen ice cream, the club used four parts cream, one-and-a-half cups half-and-half, one-and-three-fourths cups sugar and one teaspoon of flavor — which changed with the batch — and as one person mixed, the other slowly poured in the liquid nitrogen.
The liquid nitrogen was poured a little at a time until the viscosity looked right.
The temperature of the ice cream was gaged by the viscocity. Too little nitrogen and the ice cream turned to liquid quickly, and too much nitrogen made the ice cream inedible.
Liquid nitrogen is -320 degrees Fahrenheit and is odorless, colorless and, most importantly for freezing food, tasteless.
The science of the creamy, fluffly consistency is that ice cream is an emulsion, meaning there are two liquids that do not mix well naturally but one is dispersed throught the mixture; in ice cream’s case, fat is dispersed throughout the water, sugar and air.
With the rapid freezing of these particles, the nutrients are preserved, too.
The struggle is to avoid over-freezing, which the Chemistry Club members did not allow to happen in their three batches of vanilla, chocolate and vanilla-mint ice cream.
This event is so popular with alumni and students that it kicks off Homecoming Weekend every fall and ReUnion Weekend every spring.
Regardless of the cold weather, the patio was filled with laughter, conversation and delicious ice cream.