One way that food processing efficiency can be improved is by using gases like nitrous oxide. The gas is safe for use in food because it has no taste or smell and is invisible. In the field of food science, it has five main applications:
1. Nitrous oxide is used as a preservative in food.
The use of nitrous oxide as a preservative in the food industry is widespread. It’s commonly used in place of oxygen in pre-refrigerated meat and other products. Oxygen is removed from packages because it can spoil food in storage. Food oxidizes, and the environment becomes favorable for microorganisms. Vegetables, fish, and fatty meats are some oxygen-sensitive foods. Nitrous oxide does not react with or change the flavor or texture of food, despite reducing the amount of oxygen that comes into contact with the food. Therefore, nitrous oxide is appropriate for long-term food storage. The question then becomes how nitrous oxide gets into the food packaging. Nitrous oxide gas is typically introduced into an open package via gas flashing to eliminate the presence of oxygen and moisture. The gas is retained inside the package after oxygen has been expelled and the package has been immediately sealed.
2. Use in a Dessert: Whipped Cream
Toppings for cakes, desserts, and beverages are just a few culinary applications for whipped cream. When whipping the cream, nitrous oxide is essential. The gas’s main job is to push the whipped cream out of the can by providing thrust. In addition, this prevents the cream from going stale. To dissolve, nitrous oxide can be mixed with water or oil. Therefore, it can be used in the cream emulsion-making procedure. Foam is produced when gas is dissolved in cream and whipped until air bubbles form and stick together. A nitrous oxide cream charger is required to achieve professional results when whipping cream at home. Check out nitrous oxide canisters.
3. To amplify existing flavors.
Using nitrous oxide as a food flavoring is as old as commercial food production. These ice cream desserts in molds are used to boost flavor. The gas has an indistinguishable, robust, almost metallic flavor. Nitrous oxide has seen a considerable uptick in use in the last few decades to mimic whipped cream’s fluffy texture and luscious taste without all the fat and sugar. Only nitrous oxide, not any other agent, has been given the green light for use in whipped foods by the FDA. This is why its use is expanding in the dairy industry. Nitrous oxide enhances the bubble production and cocoa flavor in aerated chocolate. For example, when used in recipes that call for tomatoes, it lends a sweet or sour note to the final product. Brewers also use nitrous oxide to impart a unique flavor to beer, as it is used in the production of cheese and other foods. Some breweries indeed do this, but it’s by no means the norm.
4. Gives Meat a More Appealing
Although the red color of the meat is enhanced by nitrous oxide, many people mistakenly believe that it gives the meat a better color overall. Not only is the meat unharmed, but the process is safe.
The meat’s color comes from a shift in the meat’s chemical structure that is brought about by nitrous oxide. In no way does this render the meat unnatural. Adding nitrous oxide to a container causes the oxygen inside to disperse because it is an oxidizer. Meat is a good source of protein, fat, and hemoglobin. As a result, nitrous oxide causes the protein to transform into a form that does not contain the gas. Meat preserved with nitrous oxide has a longer shelf life than untreated meat. Said another way, it keeps red from fading for a long time. Thus, the meat keeps its appealing natural color and texture.
5. Used as a baking Agent
Since it denatures compounds, nitrous oxide plays a crucial role in baking. Sour bread flavor comes from lactic acid, one of these compounds. Without lactic acid, bread by itself would be dehydrated and crumbly. So, adding some nitrous oxide gas to the mixture makes the dough more compact and easy to work with. As a fuel, it causes the dough to expand when baked into bread, cakes, pastries, and even cupcakes. Nitrous oxide can also release CO2 and CO from the dough as a leavening agent. It prevents mold growth in baked goods and adds to the delicious smell of bread and other baked goods. There are currently no guidelines for the safe use of nitrous oxide in food production. However, many people think it can be helpful in moderate doses.
Industrial food producers are always looking for better methods of extending the shelf life of their products and keeping them from going rancid. Food-grade gases are being adopted by most of these businesses to produce organic and healthy foods.