Which Comes First, the Food … or the Gas?

That’s nowhere near as dopey – or naughty – a question as you might think! We’re talking, after all, about PurityPlus® nitrogen and its wide use in food processing. And, in that situation, the gas clearly comes before the food – or before you ingest the food, anyway! No need for panic. Nitrogen and food are a perfect pairing, as we’re about to explain.

At minus 196-degrees centigrade, liquid nitrogen is just the thing for freezing food swiftly. Quick-freezing causes smaller ice crystals to form, and smaller ice crystals not only keep food edible longer, they also, in a lot of instances, deliver a smoother, richer taste and texture.

That chocolate candy you and your beloved just shared on Valentine’s Day? It’s reasonable to assume it was kept fresh and flavorful 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 assume it was nitrogen that made those bubbles possible. What chocolatiers do to create them is take melted chocolate, foam it up with a careful injection of liquid nitrogen, then allow 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 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 velvety, 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 quicker than traditional methods, and the smaller ice crystals lend 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 example, the oxygen that would otherwise be trapped in the packaging is swapped out with nitrogen, because nitrogen keeps the food fresher and lengthens its shelf-life markedly.
  • Liquid nitrogen is employed as often as not by food processors to pulverize food – especially smartly formulated 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 that have a smoother taste and nitro taps to fizz up stouts, craft beers, and pale ales.
  • Very soon, lots of 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 punch allegedly far than coffee’s.

So, from this point forward, if someone mentions food and gas in the same breath, you know here’s no cause for distress … 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 Indianapolis is from American Welding & Gas, Inc., your local PurityPlus® partner.