Which Comes First, the Food or the Gas?

That’s not nearly as silly – or bad-mannered – a question as you might think! We’re talking, after all, about PurityPlus® nitrogen and its prevalent use in food processing. And, in that situation, the gas clearly 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 rapidly. Quick-freezing causes less conspicuous ice crystals to form, and ice crystals that aren’t very big not only keep food edible longer, they also, in many cases, accord it a smoother, richer taste and texture.

That chocolate candy you and your special valentine just shared on Valentine’s Day? Almost certainly it was kept fresh and yummy in storage and shipping with a thin blanket of nitrogen crystals. And if it was aerated chocolate – luxuriously light chocolate with air bubbles in it – you can figure 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 leave it to cool. As it does so, the nitrogen evaporates and 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 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 many foods preserved and/or enhanced 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 give it not only a richer taste but also a more appealing “mouth feel.”
  • The packaged foods you see at your grocer’s? In almost every instance, 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 markedly.
  • Liquid nitrogen is used many times 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 – sometimes even special entrées or side dishes!
  • Bars and hip microbrewery pubs use nitrogen to serve beers with a smoother taste and nitro taps to fizz up stouts, craft beers, and pale ales.
  • Eventually, quite a few microbrew pubs are as likely also to be “nitrobrew” pubs. Nitrobrews are the freshest “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 whack reportedly far than coffee’s.

So, henceforth, if anybody mentions food and gas in the same breath, you know here’s no reason to vacate 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 Pittsburgh is from Butler Gas Products , your local PurityPlus® partner.