Which Comes First, the Food or the Gas?

That’s nowhere near as foolish – 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 context, the gas absolutely comes before the food – or before you swallow the food, anyway! No cause for distress. Nitrogen does food good, as we’re going to explain.

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

That chocolate candy you and your main squeeze just shared on Valentine’s Day? It’s reasonable to assume it was kept fresh and tasty in storage and shipping with a thin blanket of nitrogen crystals. And if it was aerated chocolate – irresistably 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 careful injection of liquid nitrogen, then leave it to cool. As it does so, the nitrogen evaporates and there you have it: bubbles of air! Now, carbon dioxide or argon can be used to do this as well. But those gases make air bubbles fatter than nitrogen would give you, and fatter air bubbles just don’t leave the chocolate as creamy, smooth, and satisfying.

Of course, chocolate is but one of many foods preserved and/or improved with nitrogen.

  • Ice cream shops frequently 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 creamier “mouth feel.”
  • The packaged foods you find at your grocer’s? In almost every instance, the oxygen that would otherwise be trapped in the packaging is swapped out with nitrogen, because nitrogen keeps the food fresher and improves its shelf-life appreciably.
  • Liquid nitrogen is employed many times by food processors to pulverize food – especially briliantly designed snacks – into chunks, slivers, or powders.
  • Restaurants use liquid nitrogen to freeze alcohol and chill drinks as well as to freeze and serve novel desert concoctions – occasionally even special entrées or side dishes!
  • Bars and trendy microbrewery pubs use nitrogen to serve beers with a smoother taste and nitro taps to fizz up stouts, craft beers, and pale ales.
  • Sooner or later, a lot of microbrew pubs are as likely also to be “nitrobrew” pubs. Nitrobrews are the newest “thing” that’s just starting to take off – cold-drink creations that appear to be beer, are served in glasses, have a creamy coffee-like taste … and deliver a caffeine whack allegedly way than coffee’s.

So, after today, if anybody mentions food and gas in the same breath, you know here’s no cause for alarm … 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 Albany is from Noble Gas Solutions, your local PurityPlus® partner.