The holiday season has come to an end! We hope you had time for celebration, fun, and food! Enjoying special meals, snacks, and wines makes that time of the year so comforting and nostalgic. Maybe you didn’t think twice about it, but most of your favorite holiday ingredients, foods, and beverages are preserved or packaged with atmospheric gases. There are a handful of gases that are ideal for food and beverage preservation, but the one we will highlight here is Argon. Packaging food and wine with argon extends shelf life, maintains freshness, and improves overall quality. Argon is a safe, benign gas that has been used to preserve everything from food and beverages to historical documents like the U.S. Declaration of Independence. Argon improves food safety by displacing oxygen, which many harmful pathogens need to grow, and by inhibiting microbial oxidases, enzymes that increase the rate of oxidation.
Argon (Ar) is the most abundant of the seven noble gases and is the third-most abundant gas (at 0.934%) in the Earth’s atmosphere after nitrogen and oxygen. It’s odorless, colorless, nonflammable and is almost completely inert. Argon gets its name from the Greek word for “lazy”. It does not combine with other elements except under extreme conditions and its nonreactive nature plays a factor in its many uses. Argon’s lack of reactivity makes it particularly useful in the production of reactive elements and compounds because it establishes an atmosphere devoid of oxygen. Argon has no impact on the environment and doesn’t harm aquatic life.
The spoilage process begins immediately after food is harvested or produced. The length of time food remains suitable for consumption varies depending on factors including the content of water and salt, pH value, hygiene conditions during production, storage conditions (such as temperature or humidity), and packaging. Depending on the characteristics and combinations of these factors, food products vary in their sensitivity to microbial or chemical/ biochemical spoilage. The changes due to microbial or chemical/biochemical spoilage can be significantly slowed by MAP techniques. MAP is suitable for a wide range of food products and is increasingly used for foods, such as fish, coffee, fruit, and vegetables. In addition, MAP is driven by the growing popularity of ready-made products.
Argon can be used to preserve many foods such as red meat, sea food, dairy, breads, fruits, vegetables, pasta, nuts, and snacks. Many of these you’ll find in your holiday meals or as an appetizer or dessert. By utilizing argon to displace oxygen, the growth of unwanted bacteria and mold is slowed, and the freshness and flavor quality is maintained. When argon is used in MAP, fewer unhealthy preservatives need to be used by producers.
Argon is used in the wine industry to displace oxygen in a space as small as a bottle and as large as a barrel. That little burst of rising steam when a cork is popped off a bottle of wine is created courtesy of Argon. Any area of a wine bottle or barrel that is not filled with liquid is occupied by some form of gas to lock in freshness during storage – namely an inert gas. A drop of the inert gas is placed in the headspace before the cork seals the bottle, displacing oxygen and maintaining the wine’s freshness by preventing oxidation and spoilage caused by yeast and bacteria. Heavier than air, Argon is ideal for purging and blanketing to evacuate oxygen from the vessel, fighting against browning and acidity, which often leads to unpleasant tastes.
Rocky Mountain Air strives for flawless dependability when providing food and beverage grade gases to businesses we serve. Gases and related equipment for food preservation and refrigeration are available for delivery. Argon is one of many cryogenic gases we offer in bulk quantities. RMA serves manufacturing and packaging facilities, breweries, bottlers, and restaurants. We deliver products quickly, so that production lines stay moving, deliveries are on time, and the beverages stay flowing. Contact your local branch today for more information about argon. We look forward to serving you!