Cream Chargers

It is always worth considering the how and why of man’s interfering with nature. A good example of this would be the use of nitrous oxide in cream chargers. Is it not a bit strange that the most powerful of all of the global gases is used in the simplest of items such as a whipped cream dispenser. You might think surely there is another way?

Well simply the answer is no. This is probably one example of how a potentially dangerous chemical that finds a use for man can be made, distributed and used simply for convenience. After all – it’s not like it was impossible to whip cream prior to the discovery that nitrous oxide pressurised into the tiny cylinder known as the cream charger can take some of the elbow work out of making whipped cream!

Some supplies such as www.creamchargers.org.uk are intent upon warning and informing their customers about the potential pitfalls and dangers of nitrous oxide both on personal and global terms – so perhaps check out their site for info – although it is worth is for the recipes too!!!

It is all due to the fact that N2O will dissolve into fat but not into aqueous substances (water). The composition of cream is that is is a mix of both fatty and water – based substances, known as butterfat and buttermilk. The higher the proportion of the butterfat in the cream the easier it is to whip.

The basic premise of using nitrous oxide to make whipped cream is that under pressure it is forced to dissolve into the fatty molecules – however if the pressure is released then it will come out of solution – as it does it causes the molecules to create a matrix that will temporarily hold pockets of the gas. This, in effect is exactly what whipped cream is.

The traditional way of making whipped cream with a whisk actually makes a denser but  less long-lived variety of desert.

  • it is more dense because the gas (in this case air rather than nitrous oxide) is combined with it rather than aggressively forced into it.
  • It is more long lived because the product is chemically altered and the molecules of fat in the cream are actually bonded together rather than simply stuck together.