Utilised for a wide range of applications, such as in paintballing and welding, gases are also utilised in the food and drink industries. There are plenty of fun facts about everything – and gases are no different! Here are a few top facts on gases and their use in both food and beverages:
Fact #1: Liquid Nitrogen in Food and Drinks
Providing a telltale ‘caldron effect’ with bubbling and smoky properties, liquid nitrogen flash freezes food when at -196°C. It must, however, completely evaporate for it to be safe in food and drinks, as it can cause a life-threatening injury.
Fact #2: November 19th, the National Carbonated Beverage with Caffeine Day
In the United States, November 19th is the National Carbonated Beverage with Caffeine Day which celebrates the combination of these two elements. Indulging in these types of drinks isn’t the healthiest option but, on this day, people celebrate both soft carbonated drinks and caffeine.
Fact #3: CO2 Makes Drinks Last Longer
Soft drinks get their acidic nature from the introduction of CO2 under pressure (carbonic acid), making the flavour sharper and giving you a slight burning sensation when you drink your favourite fizzy drink. This also preserves the drink for longer periods of time.
Fact #4: More Volume Than You’d Think
CO2 is utilised in a wide range of carbonated drinks and, should you let all of the CO2 out of a carbonated drink at one atmosphere of pressure, the gas would fill approximately four times the volume of the original drink container.
Fact #5: Nitrogen Dioxide Sterilises Food
Nitrogen Dioxide, or NO2, can quickly and efficiently sterilise food-related equipment against spores, viruses, and bacteria. Its decreased corrosive properties in comparison to other sterilant gases, making ideal for a safe sterilisation use.
Fact #6: Who Invented the BBQ?
Although the BBQ can be traced back to the late 1800s in the United States, used by Western cowboys, a similar method of cooking is known to have been used before then. A patented design for charcoal briquettes was filed in 1897 by Ellsworth B. A. Zwoyer, but the Arawak people in South America used to roast meat on a structure made of wood called barbacoa in Spanish in pre-Colonial times.
Fact #7: Nitrogen for Packaging
Nitrogen gas is used in the packaging industry, for foods such as crisps, helping to keep a better product colour, preserving texture, aroma, flavour, and nutritional value, and extending shelf life. It helps to control anaerobic, aerobic, microaerobic, and facultative anaerobic microbes.
Fact #8: Gases for Fresh Food
Natural gases are mixed together to create the perfect combinations that allow for longer food freshness. Whether it’s for meat or seafood or vegetables, they are vital so that you can buy fresh food in supermarkets:
- Salads and vegetables (Carbon Dioxide, Oxygen, and Nitrogen)
- Raw red meat (Carbon Dioxide and Oxygen)
- Raw fish (Oxygen, Carbon Dioxide, and Nitrogen)
- Cheese and yoghurt (Nitrogen and Carbon Dioxide)
Fact #9: CO2 is Utilised in Three Phases
In the food and beverage industries, CO2 is utilised as a gas flush in Modified Atmosphere Packaging, as liquid CO2, and as dry ice or pellets. CO2 is also vital for refrigeration processes from small to large commercial scales.
Fact #10: Carbonated Drinks Were Tried in Space…With Bad Results
Gravity is required to separate the liquid in carbonated drinks from the has in the stomach, however, in space, this isn’t possible. This resulted in what is called ‘wet burping’, and reduced carbonation in drinks may be the solution for astronauts to enjoy a cold beer in space.