Which Comes First, the Food … or the Gas?

That’s not quite as brainless – or naughty – a question as you might think! We’re talking, after all, about PurityPlus® nitrogen and its pervasive use in food processing. And, in that case, the gas clearly comes before the food – or before you swallow the food, anyway! No reason for distress. Nitrogen and food make an ideal pairing, as we mean} intend to explain.

At minus 196-degrees centigrade, liquid nitrogen is just the thing for freezing food swiftly. Quick-freezing causes tinier ice crystals to form, and tinier ice crystals not only keep food fresher longer, they also, in lots of instances, deliver a smoother, richer taste and texture.

That chocolate candy you and your significant other 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 – lushly 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 deliberate 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 also. But those gases make air bubbles bigger than you’d get with nitrogen, and bigger air bubbles just don’t leave the chocolate as velvety, smooth, and satisfying.

Of course, chocolate is only one of many foods preserved and/or enhanced with 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 smaller ice crystals impart not only a richer taste but also a creamier “mouth feel.”
  • The packaged foods you get at your grocer’s? In just about 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 considerably.
  • Liquid nitrogen is used quite a bit by food processors to pulverize food – particularly smartly conceived snacks – into chunks, slivers, or powders.
  • Restaurants use liquid nitrogen to freeze alcohol and chill drinks as well as to freeze and serve inventive desert concoctions – occasionally 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.
  • In time, many microbrew pubs are as likely also to be “nitrobrew” pubs. Nitrobrews are the freshest “thing” that’s just starting to hit it big – cold-drink creations that look like beer, are served in glasses, have a creamy coffee-like taste … and provide a caffeine hit reportedly way more powerful than coffee’s.

So, henceforth, if anyone 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 AOC Mexico S.A. de C.V., your local PurityPlus® partner.