Ask someone how they want their food frozen and you may get a blank look.
“Err, cold please. Very cold?”, is a likely reply. Because being frozen is just, well, being frozen, isn’t it? You stick something in a freezer box and wait until it freezes, solid.
Actually, not any longer. Advances in technology have now developed freezing into a precise science. Just like the eskimos developed 50 words for snow, we may need to broaden our understanding of what ‘frozen’ really means.
When a cryogenic agent such as liquid nitrogen evaporates, it absorbs heat as it converts to a gas operating at a temperature five times colder than a traditional freezer, quickly freezing any food it surrounds or contacts.
That one simple change has unlocked a wide range of freezing possibilities. The speed of the resulting freeze, its formation as a gas and its variable freezing ability all mean it’s no longer just a case of ‘being frozen’.
Instead you can:
- Flexibly adjust the freezing temperature to suit different products, whereas traditional cabinet freezers operate within a more limited freezing range.
- Add an oscillating motion to the belt so that foods such as pizza toppings, vegetables, shellfish and diced meat products will each agitate sufficiently to not stick together and so undergo a uniform and individual quick freeze all over.
- Benefit from advanced gas flow technologies in a spiral freezer to achieve rapid freezing in high volumes per square foot of floor space used.
- Precisely control the depth of freeze to create a ‘cryogenic crust’ – freezing only the top few millimetres you require on the surface of a product. This can protect food during packing and further processing and also enhance high speed slicing, improving quality and reducing wastage.
- Allow for the addition of protective glazes to fish and chicken and freeze flavoured coatings onto products.
Improving productivity and quality
Using cryogenics has transformed the technology of commercial-scale freezing from a simple process tool into a precision instrument. This has encouraged new product development while boosting productivity, enhancing quality and improving yield. For example, cryogenics causes only 0.5% dehydration compared with up to 3% from the mechanical process, locking in nutrients and preserving freshness, taste and texture.
And ignore the urban myths. Liquid nitrogen gas is odourless, colourless, leaves no residue whatsoever on food exposed to it and is listed as a safe food additive. In fact 78% of the air you’re breathing right now is nitrogen, so it’s also not a greenhouse gas.
So, now you know, how do you want your food frozen?
Could cryogenic freezing help to take your food business to the next level? The cutting-edge Cryoline® range from BOC has been designed and tested to provide superior freezing and support food innovation.
If you would like to discuss the benefits cryogenics could bring to your food business, please speak to our Food Team.