Which Comes First, the Food or the Gas?

That’s not nearly as brainless – or naughty – a question as you might think! We’re talking, after all, about PurityPlus® nitrogen and its prevalent use in food processing. And, in that frame of reference, the gas definitely comes before the food – or before you ingest the food, anyway! No cause for alarm. Nitrogen and food make an ideal pairing, as we’re about to explain.

At minus 196-degrees centigrade, liquid nitrogen is just the thing for freezing food swiftly. Quick-freezing causes smaller ice crystals to form, and smaller ice crystals not only keep food around longer, they also, in many cases, impart to it a smoother, richer taste and texture.

That chocolate candy you and your significant other just shared on Valentine’s Day? It’s reasonable to assume it was kept fresh and yummy in storage and shipping with a thin blanket of nitrogen crystals. And if it was aerated chocolate – scrumptiously light chocolate with air bubbles in it – you can figure on it being nitrogen that made those bubbles possible. What chocolatiers do to produce them is take melted chocolate, foam it up with a measured injection of liquid nitrogen, then let it cool. As it does so, the nitrogen evaporates and … Presto-Chango! Air bubbles appear in place of the nitrogen! Now, carbon dioxide or argon is sometimes used to do this also. 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 wide variety of foods that benefit from nitrogen.

  • Ice cream shops often use liquid nitrogen to make their prime product – again, because it freezes the ice cream faster than standard methods, and the less conspicuous ice crystals give it not only a richer taste but also a more appealing “mouth feel.”
  • The packaged foods you get at the food mart? In virtually 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 appreciably.
  • Liquid nitrogen is used often enough by food processors to pulverize food – especially cleverly designed snacks – into chunks, slivers, or powders.
  • Restaurants use liquid nitrogen to freeze alcohol and chill drinks as well as to freeze and serve original desert concoctions – occasionally even special entrées or side dishes!
  • Bars and hip microbrewery pubs use nitrogen to give beers a smoother taste and nitro taps to fizz up stouts, craft beers, and pale ales.
  • Eventually, quite a few microbrew pubs will also likelyly be “nitrobrew” pubs. Nitrobrews are the latest “thing” that’s just starting to hit it big – cold-drink creations that have the look of beer, are served in glasses, have a creamy coffee-like taste … and provide a caffeine punch said to be much stronger than coffee’s.

So, after today, if somebody mentions food and gas in the same breath, you know here’s no cause for panic … 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 Denver is from Rocky Mountain Air Solutions, your local PurityPlus® partner.