Which Comes First, the Food … or the Gas?02/20/2018That’s not quite as loopy – or rude – 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 absolutely comes before the food – or before you swallow the food, anyway! No cause for distress. Nitrogen and food go very well together, as we mean} intend to explain. At minus 196-degrees centigrade, liquid nitrogen is ideal for freezing food swiftly. Quick-freezing causes smaller ice crystals to form, and smaller 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 sweetheart just shared on Valentine’s Day? It was undoubtedly 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 allow it to cool. As it does so, the nitrogen evaporates and … Voila! 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 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 that benefit from nitrogen. Ice cream shops routinely use liquid nitrogen to make their prime product – again, because it freezes the ice cream faster than traditional methods, and the smaller ice crystals give it not only a richer taste but also a more appealing “mouth feel.”The packaged foods you get at the grocery store? In virtually 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 cleverly 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 popular microbrewery pubs use nitrogen to serve beers with a smoother taste and nitro taps to fizz up stouts, craft beers, and pale ales.Sooner or later, a number of 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 offer a caffeine hit said to be far stronger than coffee’s. So, from now on, if someone 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 St. Louis is from Cee Kay Supply, Inc., your local PurityPlus® partner.