Which Comes First, the Food … or the Gas?

That’s nowhere near as stupid – or improper – a question as you might think! We’re talking, after all, about PurityPlus® nitrogen and its pervasive use in food processing. And, in that frame of reference, the gas definitely comes before the food – or before you swallow the food, anyway! No cause for distress. Nitrogen does food good, as we’re about to explain.

At minus 196-degrees centigrade, liquid nitrogen is perfect 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 a lot of instances, deliver a smoother, richer taste and texture.

That chocolate candy you and your sweetheart just shared on Valentine’s Day? It was undoubtedly kept fresh and flavorful 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 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 … Presto-Chango! Air bubbles appear in the pockets previously filled with nitrogen! Now, carbon dioxide or argon is sometimes used to do this as well. But those gases make air bubbles bigger than you’d get with nitrogen, and bigger air bubbles just don’t leave the chocolate as rich, smooth, and satisfying.

Of course, chocolate is only one of many foods preserved and/or made tastier with nitrogen.

  • Ice cream shops routinely use liquid nitrogen to make their prime product – again, because it freezes the ice cream faster 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 considerably.
  • Liquid nitrogen is used as often as not 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 novel desert concoctions – occasionally even special entrées or side dishes!
  • Bars and trendy microbrewery pubs use nitrogen to give beers a smoother taste and nitro taps to fizz up stouts, craft beers, and pale ales.
  • Very soon, 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 look like beer, are served in glasses, have a creamy coffee-like taste … and provide a caffeine hit said to be way than coffee’s.

So, after today, if somebody 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 Columbus is from Delille Oxygen Company, your local PurityPlus® partner.