Which Comes First, the Food … or the Gas?02/20/2018 That’s not nearly as frivolous – 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 frame of reference, the gas definitely comes before the food – or before you ingest the food, anyway! No reason for panic. Nitrogen does food good, as we’re about to explain. At minus 196-degrees centigrade, liquid nitrogen is just the thing for freezing food swiftly. Quick-freezing causes smaller ice crystals to form, and smaller ice crystals not only keep food around longer, they also, in lots of instances, lend it a smoother, richer taste and texture. That chocolate candy you and your sweetheart just shared on Valentine’s Day? Most likely it was kept fresh and tasty in storage and shipping with a thin blanket of nitrogen crystals. And if it was aerated chocolate – scrumptiously 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 let it cool. As it does so, the nitrogen evaporates and there you have it: bubbles of air! Now, carbon dioxide or argon can be used to do this as well. But those gases make air bubbles larger than those nitrogen produces, and larger air bubbles just don’t leave the chocolate as velvety, smooth, and satisfying. Of course, chocolate is only one of a vast variety of foods preserved and/or made tastier with nitrogen. Ice cream shops often use liquid nitrogen to make their prime product – again, because it freezes the ice cream sooner than traditional methods, and the less conspicuous ice crystals impart not only a richer taste but also a more appealing “mouth feel.”The packaged foods you get at your grocer’s? In almost every instance, 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 significantly.Liquid nitrogen is used often enough by food processors to pulverize food – especially briliantly 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 tony microbrewery pubs use nitrogen to serve beers with a smoother taste and nitro taps to fizz up stouts, craft beers, and pale ales.Very soon, quite a few microbrew pubs are as likely also to be “nitrobrew” pubs. Nitrobrews are the freshest “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 said to be far more powerful than coffee’s. So, after today, if somebody 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 Fresno is from Fresno Oxygen & Welding Supplies/Barnes Welding Supply, your local PurityPlus® partner.