Which Comes First, the Food … or the Gas?02/20/2018That’s nowhere near as dopey – or bawdy – a question as you might think! We’re talking, after all, about PurityPlus® nitrogen and its wide use in food processing. And, in that circumstance, the gas clearly comes before the food – or before you swallow the food, anyway! No need for panic. Nitrogen and food make an ideal team, as we mean} intend 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 edible longer, they also, in many cases, deliver a smoother, richer taste and texture. That chocolate candy you and your main squeeze 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 – enticingly light chocolate with air bubbles in it – you can figure on it being nitrogen that made those bubbles possible. What chocolatiers do to get them is take melted chocolate, foam it up with a careful injection of liquid nitrogen, then let it cool. As it does so, the nitrogen evaporates and … Presto-Chango! Air bubbles appear in the pockets previously filled with nitrogen! Now, carbon dioxide or argon can be used to do this also. But those gases make air bubbles larger than those nitrogen produces, and larger air bubbles just don’t leave the chocolate as creamy, smooth, and satisfying. Of course, chocolate is just one of a wide variety of foods preserved and/or made better with nitrogen. Ice cream shops routinely use liquid nitrogen to make their prime product – again, because it freezes the ice cream quicker than standard methods, and the less conspicuous ice crystals give it not only a richer taste but also a softer “mouth feel.”The packaged foods you buy at your grocer’s? In practically every case, 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 considerably.Liquid nitrogen is employed many times by food processors to pulverize food – especially smartly crafted snacks – into chunks, slivers, or powders.Restaurants use liquid nitrogen to freeze alcohol and chill drinks as well as to freeze and serve novel desert concoctions – sometimes even special entrées or side dishes!Bars and hip 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, quite a few microbrew pubs are as likely also to be “nitrobrew” pubs. Nitrobrews are the freshest “thing” that’s just starting to catch on – cold-drink creations that have the look of beer, are served in glasses, have a creamy coffee-like taste … and deliver a caffeine hit said to be way 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 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 Richmond, Virginia is from Arc3 Gases, your local PurityPlus® partner.