May 18, 2015

Interesting uses for dry ice

dry iceWhile studying at Boulder culinary school, you have discussed some of the trends in the restaurant industry. At one point, cooking with dry ice was the “cool” thing to do. Here are a few ways it was (and still is) used:

Seafood
You can cook some food items by placing them on dry ice. Its very cold temperature of -109.3 degrees Fahrenheit can sear the items, making them safe to eat. Vancouver-based Peake of Catering uses dry ice when catering. The company sets up a station with several blocks of dry ice and places the different meats on them to cook upon receiving an order. Diners can see this happening in front of their eyes as the chef uses tongs to maneuver the seafood about to cook it evenly.

Root beer
Ever wanted to make your own root beer at home? Dry Ice Info suggests using one pound of sugar, one gallon of water and two ounces of root beer extract to do just that. Place the ingredients in a food-grade plastic container that is triple the size of the liquid and will allow for it to be full of 1/3 root beer mix and 2/3 air. Then, add one or two pounds of food-grade dry ice. Shut the lid and check on in a few minutes. If the ice is freezing the mix, add water to encourage the carbonation process to continue without the root beer becoming a popsicle.

Scent
Some high-end restaurants serve perfumed smoke with certain dishes, or in between courses. This “smoke” is really the fog coming off dry ice. The eateries may place it in a glass with the desired scent and encourage diners to take a whiff. You can do this yourself by making a very strong infusion of your favorite smell. Floral and smoky scents are particularly popular.

Spooky drinks
Want to make your beverages look a little spooky? You can use fruit punch or juice for children, or try this with fun adult drinks such as martinis. Once they’re fully prepped, add a small cube of dry ice and serve. Your creation will immediately spill forth a foggy substance that is great for Halloween and entertainment all year round.

Cooling food items
If there is an emergency and your electricity is cut off at home or a restaurant, it is possible to use chunks of dry ice to keep your food frozen. Just tightly pack your edibles with the frozen stuff and be sure the container is shut tight. When the electricity comes back on, you can remove the dry ice and be glad that you didn’t lose the entire freezer’s contents.

Quick-freeze fresh produce
Many people want to keep their fresh garden produce in the freezer to use throughout the winter. Often, however, the produce loses its integrity during the freezing process. Once you thaw the veggies or fruit to use, it often becomes soggy and loses the crispy freshness that it once had. To avoid this, consider freezing your garden items with dry ice. Just add food-grade dry ice to a cooler and add the produce. Shut the lid and wait 20-30 minutes. Check on the items to see if they are fully frozen. If not, leave them in for another few minutes. When they are ready, place the produce in a plastic bag or container and set it in your regular freezer. Because dry ice freezes your herbs, carrots and other garden products quickly, they remain in almost the exactly same shape they were in when you plucked them from the plant.