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How does your Thanksgiving food get processed? A behind-the-scenes look.

Posted by Amanda Guzman | Nov 22, 2016 4:18:04 PM | Food Chilling & Freezing,Beverage gases

Getting ready for the big day?

Most Americans are preparing to celebrate our nation's history with the  traditional Thanksgiving dinner - turkey accompanied by all the trimmings. As a host or guest, you may not have thought about all the behind-the-scenes preparation it takes to get your food to your grocer and, ultimately, to your table.

 

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Food grade industrial gases are used throughout the food industry and play an integral role in maintaining high quality and freshness of all the components of a Thanksgiving feast - from the turkey that is chilled using CO2 snow to the appetizers that are flash - frozen and the vegetables that are packaged using a mix of inert gases.

 

Starters and beverages

Frozen appetizers can be great time savers, leaving more time to spend cooking the main course or spending time with family and friends. Often, gourmet frozen appetizers have been quickly chilled or frozen with nitrogen or carbon dioxide to ensure they’re at their peak in terms of freshness, flavor and appearance when taken out of the oven.

Industrial gases are also critical in most festive party drinks. Soft drinks just would not be the same without the bubbles. Non-alcoholic bubblies get their effervescence through carbonation – a process in which a stream of carbon dioxide gas is added to the drink during the bottling process.

Want something more grown up? Most of the bubbles in beer and sparkling wines come from naturally produced carbon dioxide during fermentation, but beverage manufacturers often add additional CO2 during bottling to make sure your favorite drink doesn’t fall flat!

Non-carbonated beverages benefit from industrial gases as well. Bottles containing everything from water to wine are often topped off with a drop of liquid nitrogen before the cork or cap is added. That nitrogen, expands into a gas and displaces any oxygen left inside the bottle, so the drink stays fresher longer. It’s especially key for drinks in plastic bottles, which need the fullness the nitrogen gas provides – similar to an inflated balloon – to provide extra rigidity to ensure the bottles stay intact during shipping and storage.

 

The main course

The majority of Americans cook their turkeys whole, but an increasing number are deciding it’s easier to cook parts separately, rather than worrying about whether the dark meat will be done and the white meat overcooked. Many food processors now sell packages of ready-to-cook, pre-cut turkey parts to reduce the amount of prep work required at home. In the plant, these parts need to be chilled after cutting, in order to maintain freshness and quality throughout the supply chain so processors use carbon dioxide snow to keep the product chilled prior to packaging.

 

Side dishes

Whether you’re making potatoes, beans or brussel sprouts, there’s a lot of trimming, peeling, slicing and dicing required. Love the veggies but hate the work? Consumers are increasingly choosing pre-washed and pre-cut fresh vegetables that can go straight into the pan. To keep these ready-to-cook veggies fresh and inhibit bacterial growth, a process known as modified atmosphere packaging removes oxygen from the package, displacing it with a mixture of gases. Nitrogen, carbon dioxide gas, or both, are injected into the container just before it is sealed, to keep the vegetables fresh, safe and healthy.

 

Breads and pies

Where would Thanksgiving be without bread, pies and other desserts to round out our feast? It can be a lot of work to make biscuits, or the pie crusts that provide a savory accompaniment to fruit pies from scratch. Commercial bakers realize the key to high quality products is to maintain consistent ingredient temperatures, which can be achieved by injecting CO2 directly into the dry ingredients. Picking up fresh, pre-baked bread, rolls or pie?Similar to savory appetizers, they also may have been chilled either just before, or just after baking using nitrogen or carbon dioxide to remove excess heat and lock in flavor and freshness. Cryogenic freezing of desserts that you can thaw and bake make it easier for you to sit back, relax and enjoy your Thanksgiving with family and friends without sacrificing flavor and freshness.

                                

                                       Happy Thanksgiving and Bon Appetite!

 

Did you know, cryogenic freezing systems help food processors reduce product losses, boost quality and increase product throughput. Download our FREE whitepaper on cryogenic freezing systems now!

 

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