Which Comes First, the Food or the Gas?02/20/2018That’s nowhere near as dopey – or improper – 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 absolutely comes before the food – or before you consume the food, anyway! No need for panic. Nitrogen and food were almost meant for each other, as we’re going to explain. At minus 196-degrees centigrade, liquid nitrogen is perfect for freezing food quickly. Quick-freezing causes smaller ice crystals to form, and smaller ice crystals not only keep food around longer, they also, in many cases, lend it 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 tasty in storage and shipping with a thin blanket of nitrogen crystals. And if it was aerated chocolate – luciously light chocolate with air bubbles in it – you can bet it was nitrogen that made those bubbles possible. What chocolatiers do to produce them is take melted chocolate, foam it up with a deliberate injection of liquid nitrogen, then leave it to 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 too. But those gases make air bubbles larger than those nitrogen produces, and larger air bubbles just don’t leave the chocolate as rich, smooth, and satisfying. Of course, chocolate is but one of a vast 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 quicker than standard methods, and the tinier ice crystals lend not only a richer taste but also a creamier “mouth feel.”The packaged foods you buy at the supermarket? 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 considerably.Liquid nitrogen is used quite a bit by food processors to pulverize food – particularly cleverly formulated 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 – every now and then 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.Sooner or later, a number of microbrew pubs will also likelyly 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 provide a caffeine whack allegedly way more powerful than coffee’s. So, after today, if someone mentions food and gas in the same breath, you know here’s no cause for distress … 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 Minneapolis is from Toll Company, your local PurityPlus® partner.