When shipping and storing fish or any other type of food product, the method of freezing can be a significant influence on how the finished product tastes and looks. Blast freezers keep fish extremely fresh and are an efficient approach to preserving your product. Everything from fish to TV dinners can be in a blast freezer, and there are many different configurations and styles.
If you’ve ever wondered exactly how sushi is transported or how fish is kept fresh, look no further. We will walk you through the process of blast freezing and go over the benefits of fresh vs. frozen fish.
What is Blast Freezing?
Blast freezing is one of the most versatile methods of food preservation. For seafood, blast freezing provides a level of taste, texture and presentation unlike any other method. Most of this is due to the speed at which the product is frozen. The general process for blast freezing involves pushing cold air across the fish at a very high velocity and a very low temperature. Freezers can have a variety of sizes and configurations. Some include conveyor belts or moving trays, while others can be used as long-term storage or transportation solutions. Blast freezing applies to more than just seafood.
The way that these freezers work is connected to the way that water freezes within the cells of the fish. When fish freeze, the water molecules within the cells bond with each other to form ice. As the water molecules start to freeze, they move toward other molecules to form specific patterns. When the molecules pull away from the cells, they leave higher concentrations of enzymes and electrolytes that damage the cell walls. If the freeze time is slow, this movement can damage the cells much more than it would during a fast freeze because of the large size of the ice crystals. When they freeze quickly, the molecules don’t have time to reposition themselves and smaller crystals form. Large clumps of ice don’t develop, and the enzymes and electrolytes stay isolated, causing less damage to the cells. With this process, a thawed product more closely resembles the fresh version in taste, color, texture and even the nutrients that are locked in.
Temperatures tend to reach about -34°C (-30°F) in a blast freezer, but some can get much colder. For example, Klinge Corporation’s freezers reach -60°C (-76℉).
Benefits of Blast Freezing Seafood
There are several reasons you might use blast freezing for seafood, which can be anywhere from 60 to 80% water. The high water content makes it especially susceptible to the cell-damaging parts of the freezing process. Plus, the better results of a blast freezer can benefit the company, the consumer and the health of the general population. If that wasn’t enough, the improved taste, texture and overall quality make the blast freezer an attractive piece of equipment for anyone involved in food production.
- Fast and efficient: One of the most notable benefits to blast freezers is that they are fast. For any business that relies on production speeds, fast freezing can be a substantial asset. By moving more product through the freezer, you make room for the next batch sooner. You can also process orders quicker.
- High-quality product: If your seafood thaws to a near-fresh state, you can bump it into a higher-priced market and collect more for each product sold. Blast-frozen fish sees less wilting or mushiness from the thawing process. The improved quality is partly because of the previously mentioned ice crystal formation, but also because of the way the airflow pattern breaks up any heat gradients. Typically, a fast airflow over the surface of the fish would cause it to dehydrate, but by developing a frozen skin on the edges, a blast freezer can prevent this, keeping the fish fresh on thawing.
- Safer: The blast freezing process is an excellent way to minimize bacteria growth. Normally, bacteria growth occurs between 4°C (40℉) and 60°C (140℉). Since the freezing occurs so quickly, bacteria don’t have much time to multiply. The food remains free of these microorganisms. Blast freezing is helpful from a business standpoint, as it keeps you safe from creating health hazards in your product, and it helps keep the general public healthy. This factor is especially necessary for meat and seafood applications.
- Healthier: Speaking of health, blast freezing prevents nutrient deterioration. Slower freezing can affect what nutrients get locked into the product by the time it reaches the consumer.
- Easy transport: Many fish are significantly less costly to transport when they are frozen. They can be sent via container ship instead of air freight.
- Ultra-low temperatures: Ultra-low temperatures may increase the quality of frozen fish, shellfish and meat. Some species of fish, such as yellowfin tuna and other high-value species, are better to freeze in this way than others. Tuna, for example, may have a longer shelf-life when frozen to ultra-low temperatures.
- Minimize waste: With a blast freezer, you can avoid throwing out inventory that didn’t hold up. It is especially helpful for seasonal items that need to go longer periods of time without being thawed.
The benefits of blast freezing seafood apply to many forms of fish, including individually frozen fish and fish frozen in blocks.
Other Applications for Blast Freezing
Blast freezing can be used across industries. Butchers, caterers, food distributors and even those in the pharmaceutical industry use blast freezers to keep their products in excellent condition. Food is one of the more common uses, as meat, ice cream, TV dinners and produce can all spend some time in a blast freezer and maintain their fresh taste and texture. When you consider the ultra-cool capabilities of Klinge Corp freezers, you have even more uses at your fingertips.
- Transport: Freezing products with blast freezers is great for transporting it. Distributors and caterers will often blast freeze food to move it to other locations. Portable blast freezers can be helpful for these applications, as they can also double as long-term storage.
- Pharmaceutical industry: For the pharmaceutical industry, blast freezers handle large volumes of materials, whether vaccines, biologics, blood plasma or anything else that needs to be cooled quickly. With features like temperature monitoring, compatibility with shipping containers or trailers and large capacities, pharmaceutical companies often use blast freezers for storing and transporting vital materials. The fast freezing process helps keep crucial materials safe for use and can also be used for quick pre-conditioning of Phase Change Materials (PCM’s).
- Food items: Many restaurants, cafeterias and shops use blast freezers to cool their products before placing them in more accessible long-term freezers. This freezes the items before any bacteria grow and keep items fresher than a regular freezer. Bakeries, ice cream shops and caterers are other common purchasers of blast freezers.
- Delicate items: Some items like pasta and baked goods benefit from the thin layer of ice that forms on the surface. The ice layer prevents dehydration and helps delicate items maintain structure.
- Multiple products: Most blast freezers have different compartments to keep food separate, meaning large operations that need to avoid cross-contamination can do so easily.
Blast Freezers from Klinge
For blast freezing seafood to preserve its highest quality, the experts at Klinge offer top-of-the-line equipment. Whether you need to store a large batch of fresh fish or send a freezer full of them away for distribution, Klinge freezers are dependable. With rigorous quality assurance and the innovation of over 30 years of experience, we are constantly striving to increase our customers’ satisfaction.
Blast freezing is an efficient and effective method to increase your operational speed and get an improved product. Better texture, taste and presentation are just a few of the benefits that your customers get when you choose to blast freeze with freezers from Klinge. For more information about how a blast freezer can benefit your operation, contact a specialist today!