Which Comes First, the Food or the Gas?

That’s not nearly as loopy – or naughty – a question as you might think! We’re talking, after all, about PurityPlus® nitrogen and its extensive use in food processing. And, in that case, the gas absolutely comes before the food – or before you consume the food, anyway! No cause for panic. Nitrogen does food good, as we’re about to explain.

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

That chocolate candy you and your sweetheart just shared on Valentine’s Day? It was almost certainly kept fresh and yummy in storage and shipping with a thin blanket of nitrogen crystals. And if it was aerated chocolate – exquisitely light chocolate with air bubbles in it – you can count on it being nitrogen that made those bubbles possible. What chocolatiers do to get them is take melted chocolate, foam it up with a deliberate 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 is occasionally used to do this also. 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 just one of a wide variety of foods preserved and/or improved with nitrogen.

  • Ice cream shops often use liquid nitrogen to make their prime product – again, because it freezes the ice cream sooner than traditional 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 your grocer’s? In almost every example, the oxygen that would otherwise be trapped in the packaging is exchanged for nitrogen, because nitrogen keeps the food fresher and improves its shelf-life appreciably.
  • Liquid nitrogen is used often enough by food processors to pulverize food – particularly smartly conceived 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 – occasionally even special entrées or side dishes!
  • Bars and tony microbrewery pubs use nitrogen to serve beers with a smoother taste and nitro taps to fizz up stouts, craft beers, and pale ales.
  • Very soon, quite a few microbrew pubs will also surelyly be “nitrobrew” pubs. Nitrobrews are the freshest “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 offer a caffeine whack allegedly way than coffee’s.

So, from this point forward, if anyone mentions food and gas in the same breath, you know here’s no reason to run out of 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 Auburn is from Spec Air Specialty Gases, your local PurityPlus® partner.