Which Comes First, the Food or the Gas?

That’s nowhere near as foolish – or crude – a question as you might think! We’re talking, after all, about PurityPlus® nitrogen and its pervasive use in food processing. And, in that context, the gas definitely comes before the food – or before you ingest the food, anyway! No need for panic. Nitrogen does food good, as we mean} intend to explain.

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

That chocolate candy you and your special valentine just shared on Valentine’s Day? Undoubtedly it was kept fresh and flavorful 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 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 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 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 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 less conspicuous 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 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 appreciably.
  • Liquid nitrogen is used often enough by food processors to pulverize food – especially briliantly 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 – occasionally even special entrées or side dishes!
  • Bars and hip microbrewery pubs use nitrogen to lend beers a smoother taste and nitro taps to fizz up stouts, craft beers, and pale ales.
  • Not long from now, many microbrew pubs will also likelyly be “nitrobrew” pubs. Nitrobrews are the newest “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 offer a caffeine wallop allegedly way stronger than coffee’s.

So, henceforth, if anyone 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 Portland is from Cryo-Source, your local PurityPlus® partner.