Which Comes First, the Food or the Gas?

That’s not quite as loopy – or bawdy – a question as you might think! We’re talking, after all, about PurityPlus® nitrogen and its prevalent use in food processing. And, in that case, the gas definitely comes before the food – or before you ingest the food, anyway! No need for distress. Nitrogen does food good, as we’re about to explain.

At minus 196-degrees centigrade, liquid nitrogen is just the thing for freezing food rapidly. Quick-freezing causes tinier ice crystals to form, and tinier ice crystals not only keep food edible longer, they also, in many cases, lend it a smoother, richer taste and texture.

That chocolate candy you and your special valentine 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 – exquisitely 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 measured injection of liquid nitrogen, then let it cool. As it does so, the nitrogen evaporates and … Presto-Chango! Air bubbles appear where the nitrogen once was! Now, carbon dioxide or argon is sometimes used to do this as well. But those gases make air bubbles larger than those nitrogen produces, and larger air bubbles just don’t leave the chocolate as velvety, smooth, and satisfying.

Of course, chocolate is just one of a vast variety of foods preserved and/or improved with nitrogen.

  • Ice cream shops often use liquid nitrogen to make their prime product – again, because it freezes the ice cream faster 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 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 immensely.
  • Liquid nitrogen is employed as often as not by food processors to pulverize food – particularly smartly crafted snacks – into chunks, slivers, or powders.
  • Restaurants use liquid nitrogen to freeze alcohol and chill drinks as well as to freeze and serve original desert concoctions – every now and then 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.
  • In time, a lot of microbrew pubs are as likely also to be “nitrobrew” pubs. Nitrobrews are the newest “thing” that’s just starting to catch on – cold-drink creations that look like beer, are served in glasses, have a creamy coffee-like taste … and provide a caffeine slap said to be way stronger than coffee’s.

So, from here on out, if anybody mentions food and gas in the same breath, you know here’s no reason to run out of 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 Cincinnati is from Wright Brothers, your local PurityPlus® partner.