Which Comes First, the Food or the Gas?

That’s nowhere near as dotty – or crude – 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 definitely comes before the food – or before you ingest the food, anyway! No cause for alarm. Nitrogen and food make an ideal team, as we mean} intend 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 edible longer, they also, in many cases, give 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 yummy in storage and shipping with a thin blanket of nitrogen crystals. And if it was aerated chocolate – luciously 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 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 rich, smooth, and satisfying.

Of course, chocolate is only one of a wide variety of foods that benefit from 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 lend not only a richer taste but also a more appealing “mouth feel.”
  • The packaged foods you get at the supermarket? In practically every instance, the oxygen that would otherwise be trapped in the packaging is swapped out with nitrogen, because nitrogen keeps the food fresher and extends its shelf-life significantly.
  • Liquid nitrogen is used quite a bit by food processors to pulverize food – particularly 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 – every now and then 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.
  • Not long from now, quite a few 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 provide a caffeine whack allegedly much more potent than coffee’s.

So, henceforth, if somebody 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 Atlanta, GA is from Sidney Lee Medical & Scientific Gases, your local PurityPlus® partner.