Which Comes First, the Food or the Gas?

That’s not nearly as dotty – or improper – a question as you might think! We’re talking, after all, about PurityPlus® nitrogen and its wide use in food processing. And, in that circumstance, the gas absolutely comes before the food – or before you ingest the food, anyway! No cause for panic. Nitrogen and food are a perfect pairing, as we’re going to explain.

At minus 196-degrees centigrade, liquid nitrogen is just the thing for freezing food swiftly. Quick-freezing causes less conspicuous ice crystals to form, and ice crystals that aren’t very big not only keep food fresher longer, they also, in lots of instances, deliver a smoother, richer taste and texture.

That chocolate candy you and your special valentine just shared on Valentine’s Day? It was almost certainly kept fresh and delicious 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 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 careful injection of liquid nitrogen, then leave it to cool. As it does so, the nitrogen evaporates and … Voila! Air bubbles appear in the pockets previously filled with nitrogen! Now, carbon dioxide or argon is sometimes used to do this too. But those gases make air bubbles bigger than you’d get with nitrogen, and bigger air bubbles just don’t leave the chocolate as creamy, smooth, and satisfying.

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

  • Ice cream shops often use liquid nitrogen to make their prime product – again, because it freezes the ice cream sooner than standard 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 just about every case, the oxygen that would otherwise be trapped in the packaging is exchanged for nitrogen, because nitrogen keeps the food fresher and prolongs its shelf-life considerably.
  • Liquid nitrogen is used quite a bit 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 inventive desert concoctions – occasionally even special entrées or side dishes!
  • Bars and popular microbrewery pubs use nitrogen to serve beers that have a smoother taste and nitro taps to fizz up stouts, craft beers, and pale ales.
  • In time, a number of microbrew pubs are as likely also to be “nitrobrew” pubs. Nitrobrews are the latest “thing” that’s just starting to hit it big – cold-drink creations that have the look of beer, are served in glasses, have a creamy coffee-like taste … and deliver a caffeine whack allegedly far than coffee’s.

So, after today, if anybody mentions food and gas in the same breath, you know here’s no cause 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 Winona is from Mississippi Welders Supply Co., Inc., your local PurityPlus® partner.