Which Comes First, the Food … or the Gas?

That’s not nearly as brainless – or bawdy – a question as you might think! We’re talking, after all, about PurityPlus® nitrogen and its extensive use in food processing. And, in that frame of reference, the gas absolutely comes before the food – or before you ingest the food, anyway! No reason for distress. Nitrogen does food good, as we mean} intend to explain.

At minus 196-degrees centigrade, liquid nitrogen is just the thing for freezing food rapidly. Quick-freezing causes less conspicuous ice crystals to form, and ice crystals that aren’t very big not only keep food edible longer, they also, in many cases, accord it a smoother, richer taste and texture.

That chocolate candy you and your special valentine just shared on Valentine’s Day? It’s reasonable to assume it was kept fresh and flavorful in storage and shipping with a thin blanket of nitrogen crystals. And if it was aerated chocolate – luxuriously light chocolate with air bubbles in it – you can bet it was nitrogen that made those bubbles possible. What chocolatiers do to produce them is take melted chocolate, foam it up with a deliberate injection of liquid nitrogen, then allow it to cool. As it does so, the nitrogen evaporates and … Presto-Chango! Air bubbles appear in place of the nitrogen! Now, carbon dioxide or argon can be used to do this too. But those gases make air bubbles larger than those nitrogen produces, and larger air bubbles just don’t leave the chocolate as creamy, smooth, and satisfying.

Of course, chocolate is just one of a vast variety of foods preserved and/or made tastier with nitrogen.

  • Ice cream shops often use liquid nitrogen to make their prime product – again, because it freezes the ice cream sooner than standard methods, and the tinier ice crystals lend not only a richer taste but also a more appealing “mouth feel.”
  • The packaged foods you see at the grocery store? In practically every case, the oxygen that would otherwise be trapped in the packaging is replaced with nitrogen, because nitrogen keeps the food fresher and lengthens its shelf-life significantly.
  • Liquid nitrogen is used often enough by food processors to pulverize food – especially cleverly formulated snacks – into chunks, slivers, or powders.
  • Restaurants use liquid nitrogen to freeze alcohol and chill drinks as well as to freeze and serve innovative desert concoctions – sometimes even special entrées or side dishes!
  • Bars and tony microbrewery pubs use nitrogen to give beers a smoother taste and nitro taps to fizz up stouts, craft beers, and pale ales.
  • Very soon, a number of microbrew pubs will also likelyly be “nitrobrew” pubs. Nitrobrews are the freshest “thing” that’s just starting to catch on – cold-drink creations that look like beer, are served in glasses, have a creamy coffee-like taste … and provide a caffeine hit reportedly much stronger than coffee’s.

So, after today, if anybody mentions food and gas in the same breath, you know here’s no reason to run from the room … as long as they’re talking about food processing with nitrogen. That’s the gas to get! And the best place to get it in Sioux Falls is from A-OX Welding Supply, your local PurityPlus® partner.