Which Comes First, the Food or the Gas?02/20/2018That’s not quite as frivolous – or crude – a question as you might think! We’re talking, after all, about PurityPlus® nitrogen and its wide use in food processing. And, in that frame of reference, 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 quickly. Quick-freezing causes less conspicuous ice crystals to form, and ice crystals that aren’t very big not only keep food fresher longer, they also, in a lot of instances, deliver a smoother, richer taste and texture. That chocolate candy you and your main squeeze just shared on Valentine’s Day? It’s reasonable to assume it was kept fresh and tasty 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 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 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 fatter than nitrogen would give you, and fatter air bubbles just don’t leave the chocolate as creamy, smooth, and satisfying. Of course, chocolate is but one of many foods preserved and/or enhanced with nitrogen. Ice cream shops often use liquid nitrogen to make their prime product – again, because it freezes the ice cream sooner than standard methods, and the tinier ice crystals impart not only a richer taste but also a more appealing “mouth feel.”The packaged foods you see at the food mart? In practically every example, the oxygen that would otherwise be trapped in the packaging is replaced with nitrogen, because nitrogen keeps the food fresher and extends its shelf-life markedly.Liquid nitrogen is used quite a bit by food processors to pulverize food – especially cleverly conceived snacks – into chunks, slivers, or powders.Restaurants use liquid nitrogen to freeze alcohol and chill drinks as well as to freeze and serve unusual desert concoctions – sometimes even special entrées or side dishes!Bars and fashionable microbrewery pubs use nitrogen to lend beers a smoother taste and nitro taps to fizz up stouts, craft beers, and pale ales.Eventually, a lot 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 deliver a caffeine slap said to be far 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 Beaumont is from Coastal Welding Supply, your local PurityPlus® partner.