Which Comes First, the Food or the Gas?

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

At minus 196-degrees centigrade, liquid nitrogen is ideal for freezing food quickly. Quick-freezing causes smaller ice crystals to form, and smaller ice crystals not only keep food around longer, they also, in lots of instances, deliver 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 – lushly light chocolate with air bubbles in it – you can count on it being nitrogen that made those bubbles possible. What chocolatiers do to create them is take melted chocolate, foam it up with a deliberate injection of liquid nitrogen, then let it cool. As it does so, the nitrogen evaporates and 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 only one of a vast variety of foods preserved and/or improved with nitrogen.

  • Ice cream shops routinely use liquid nitrogen to make their prime product – again, because it freezes the ice cream quicker than standard methods, and the less conspicuous ice crystals lend not only a richer taste but also a softer “mouth feel.”
  • The packaged foods you find at the supermarket? In virtually every instance, 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 considerably.
  • Liquid nitrogen is employed many times by food processors to pulverize food – particularly 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 – sometimes even special entrées or side dishes!
  • Bars and popular microbrewery pubs use nitrogen to serve beers with a smoother taste and nitro taps to fizz up stouts, craft beers, and pale ales.
  • Not long from now, quite a few microbrew pubs will also probablyly be “nitrobrew” pubs. Nitrobrews are the latest “thing” that’s just starting to catch on – cold-drink creations that have the look of beer, are served in glasses, have a creamy coffee-like taste … and offer a caffeine hit reportedly far than coffee’s.

So, after today, if anybody mentions food and gas in the same breath, you know here’s no reason 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 Riverside is from Elite Air, your local PurityPlus® partner.