Which Comes First, the Food … or the Gas?02/20/2018That’s nowhere near as dopey – or rude – 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 clearly comes before the food – or before you swallow the food, anyway! No reason for distress. Nitrogen and food were almost meant for each other, as we’re going to explain. At minus 196-degrees centigrade, liquid nitrogen is just the thing 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 lots of instances, deliver a smoother, richer taste and texture. That chocolate candy you and your main squeeze just shared on Valentine’s Day? It was probably kept fresh and yummy 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 figure on it being nitrogen that made those bubbles possible. What chocolatiers do to create 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 larger than those nitrogen produces, and larger air bubbles just don’t leave the chocolate as rich, smooth, and satisfying. Of course, chocolate is only one of many foods preserved and/or made better 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 softer “mouth feel.”The packaged foods you find at the food mart? In virtually every instance, the oxygen that would otherwise be trapped in the packaging is exchanged for nitrogen, because nitrogen keeps the food fresher and extends its shelf-life markedly.Liquid nitrogen is employed many times by food processors to pulverize food – especially smartly formulated 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 – every now and then even special entrées or side dishes!Bars and trendy microbrewery pubs use nitrogen to give beers a smoother taste and nitro taps to fizz up stouts, craft beers, and pale ales.Not long from now, many microbrew pubs will also surelyly be “nitrobrew” pubs. Nitrobrews are the newest “thing” that’s just starting to hit it big – cold-drink creations that have the look of beer, are served in glasses, have a creamy coffee-like taste … and provide a caffeine whack reportedly much than coffee’s. So, from now on, if someone mentions food and gas in the same breath, you know here’s no cause 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 Springfield is from ILMO Products Company, your local PurityPlus® partner.