Chemistry Doesn’t Get More Fun Than This: Nitro’s Creamery at the Reston Farmers Market

It’s science and ice cream combined! A vendor at the Reston Farmers Market has turned this summer treat into an entertaining display of chemistry in action. With fresh ingredients, your choice of flavors, and a dose of liquid nitrogen, you can have custom ice cream made right in front of you, even on the hottest days.


Craig and June McMullen of Nitro’s Creamery

Nitro’s Creamery is one of the newest additions to the Reston Farmers Market for the 2015 season. The company is owned by Craig and June McMullen of Springfield, who make and serve the ice cream at the market. Craig is a chef by trade, and he uses his culinary expertise to make some of the tastiest, smoothest ice cream in town. It’s already a hit with the crowds.

At their farmers market booth, they have a line of stand mixers where they create your ice cream as you watch. After combining the ingredients of a custom flavor, they pour liquid nitrogen into the mix. The nitrogen acts as a freezing agent and creates fantastic clouds of vapor.


Here’s the interesting science involved: 

Liquid nitrogen is a colorless, clear liquid that is extremely cold. It is a cryogenic fluid that causes rapid freezing on contact. Nitrogen is in liquid format between -346°F and -320°F, and boils if it gets any warmer than that. So when it comes in contact with an item warmer than -320°F (such as a bowl of cream and strawberries), it boils, becomes a gas, and releases clouds of vapor.


Those clouds are definitely fun to watch. When they evaporate, ice cream appears in the bowls underneath, seemingly magically. Because liquid nitrogen freezes so quickly, few ice crystals are formed, resulting in ice cream with a creamier texture than most.


Their ice cream flavors are also especially tasty. Craig and June value natural ingredients and healthy food for their family, so Nitro’s Creamery uses fresh, seasonal produce for flavoring, such as strawberries, rhubarb, and beets. One of their most popular flavors is Nutella, which I tasted and thoroughly approved. I also sampled their delicious vanilla, which had a richer flavor than most I’ve tried.

If you visit the Reston Farmers Market, stop by and watch Nitro’s Creamery in action. Personally I recommend visiting early in the morning, before the crowds get too large. After all, why shouldn’t ice cream be a breakfast food? I say we all agree to make that happen.

Nitro’s Creamery will be available at the Reston Farmers Market through November 2015. The Reston Farmers Market operates from 8am-12noon on Saturdays, May through November. 

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The Excellent Coffee Hiding at Pitango Gelato

A Reston Resident’s Lavish End-of-Summer Feast

Photo credit for all photos: Charlotte Geary. All rights reserved.