Which Comes First, the Food or the Gas?

That’s not nearly as frivolous – or vulgar – a question as you might think! We’re talking, after all, about PurityPlus® nitrogen and its extensive use in food processing. And, in that circumstance, the gas definitely comes before the food – or before you swallow 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 ideal 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, deliver 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 delicious in storage and shipping with a thin blanket of nitrogen crystals. And if it was aerated chocolate – lushly light chocolate with air bubbles in it – you can assume it was nitrogen that made those bubbles possible. What chocolatiers do to get 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 … Voila! Air bubbles appear in place of the 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 just 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 sooner than traditional methods, and the smaller ice crystals impart 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 swapped out with nitrogen, because nitrogen keeps the food fresher and extends its shelf-life significantly.
  • Liquid nitrogen is employed quite a bit by food processors to pulverize food – especially cleverly designed 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 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.
  • Sooner or later, quite a few microbrew pubs are as likely also to be “nitrobrew” pubs. Nitrobrews are the freshest “thing” that’s just starting to catch fire – cold-drink creations that have the look of beer, are served in glasses, have a creamy coffee-like taste … and deliver a caffeine wallop reportedly way more powerful than coffee’s.

So, henceforth, if anybody mentions food and gas in the same breath, you know here’s no reason 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 Mexico is from Criogas, your local PurityPlus® partner.