FORT WAYNE – Trent Bowers played something of a chef during his workday at Science Central on Saturday. He had all the necessary ingredients on the table, but instead of an apron, he donned bright orange rubber gloves and goggles.
Because one of his ingredients wasn’t something he could have found on the shelves at Kroger.
To make Bowers’ extra sweet vanilla ice cream, you need 2 quarts of milk, 2 cups of sugar, 3 teaspoons of vanilla extract and liquid nitrogen, as needed. That final ingredient is at 320 degrees below zero.
As part of the day’s Winterval 2013 activities – a winter carnival with events spread throughout downtown Fort Wayne – Bowers demonstrated how to make ice cream using the liquid version of the most common element found in the atmosphere.
He started his demonstration asking for a volunteer. He hand-picked a quiet girl in a green parka, Adrianna. She stepped forward, donned matching orange gloves and goggles, and helped measure and pour ice cream ingredients into the insulated container – a glass bowl from a slow cooker.
For the key ingredient, Bowers had Adrianna step back. He reached beneath the demonstration table and pulled out a large, secure container, similar in size and shape to a fire extinguisher. As he poured the liquid into the rest of the ingredients, steam billowed out from the container’s opening and from the slow cooker bowl. As Bowers stirred the mixture, a mass of bubbles grew into a heap out of the bowl. He added more liquid nitrogen, and then more.
As children lined up to taste the treat, Bowers warned that the ice cream would melt quickly. Indeed, halfway through the small cup of ice cream, there was milk pooled at the bottom of the cup.
The ice cream was sweet and creamy, and it had an unusual texture; instead of forming one large, smooth spoonful of ice cream, it was almost like taking a bite of Dippin’ Dots.
Kelly Shepherd and his grandmother Candy Chivington, both of Fort Wayne, attended Bowers’ demonstration as part of their day at Science Central. Chivington, or “Maw” to Kelly, was giving her grandson a belated eighth-birthday gift. He got to go anywhere he wanted: He chose Science Central.
Kelly loves science, Chivington said, but he wouldn’t volunteer when Bowers asked for a helper to pour milk and measure sugar.
“ ‘Liquid nitrogen’s very dangerous,’ ” Chivington said Kelly told her, which he learned from Bowers.
Victoria Mildred, 5, and her father, Adam Mildred, of Fort Wayne attended the ice cream demonstration as part of their Winterval outing. They had previously watched an ice sculptor at the Allen County Public Library.
“It was fun to get them outside,” Mildred said. “Being cooped up, (Winterval) is a great cabin-fever fighter.”