Under the influence of COVID-19, the demand for frozen food spikes and has no intention to move downward. The convenience, affordable price, and longer shelf life of frozen food start to get recognized by consumers, especially when researchers found that the vitamin content in frozen fruits may be as equal as fresh, if not more. Fruits like strawberry, peach, and apricot are seasonal, highly perishable, and delicate. Choosing the IQF freezing method to process them is to opt for a well-preserved fruit and a profitable wholesales price. However, the processing of IQF fruits needs to be done right for the best result possible.
Getting IQF Fruits Processing Done Right
Chilling for energy efficiency
A standard sequence for processing IQF fruits like peach, apricot, or strawberry starts with washing, dicing if necessary, followed by pre-chilling, dewatering, then IQF freezing.
Often processors skip the chilling stage, feeding the room temperature product straight into the freezer. It is, however, much more energy and cost-efficient to chill the product before IQF freezing. Only 30% of energy is used when the product is chilled with a Chiller, comparing with the energy consumed when directly putting a hot product into the freezer. Having a well-chilled product fed into the freezer can increase its capacity by about 10%.
Chilling with OctoFrost Water Bath Chiller helps products’ core temperature reach 5 C° or less, preparing for efficient and quick IQF freezing. Moreover, for fruits like peaches and apricots, it is feasible to mix ascorbic acid into the Chiller’s circulated water for fruit color retention. Also, keep in mind that the length of soaking time does not affect the fruit’s color. The ability to merge the steps of chilling and color-preserving saves production time and cost for processors.
Dewatering for good product separation
Dewatering is vital before freezing; if not done, it can lead to energy overusing, clogged bedplates and product lumps because of excess surface water, which hurts the profitability of production and the product’s integrity. IQF Freezer defrost time is usually reduced twice due to dewatering, and product quality substantially increases with a natural appearance and high product separation degree.
IQF Freezing for reduced food waste
IQF fruits are commonly picked at their ripeness peak and frozen immediately to retain their vitamins and antioxidants. Followed instantly by the chilling and dewatering stages, the final touch – IQF freezing is to complete the whole processing circle, for fine looking IQF fruits.
OctoFrost IQF Freezer can have multiple adjustable freezing zones, and each zone can be set to the desired fan speed. It allows diced IQF fruits like diced strawberries or peaches to be gently separated by continuous airflow but not overblown. In the first freezing zone, the airflow can be adjusted for a crust freezing that locks the moisture inside of the product and minimizes the product dehydration. The bedplates in the OctoFrost IQF Freezer have a smooth surface eliminating any damage to IQF fruits’ surfaces. These bedplates are uniquely designed for easy cleaning, exchange and food safety.
Processing with OctoFrost IQF equipment ensures nutrient-density and water content of fruits while maintaining a fruit’s aroma, color, and texture. In a nutshell, IQF fruits will be undoubtedly priced higher on markets.
Putting profitability aside, “only thaw what you need” is what OctoFrost continually promotes, by encouraging consumers to prepare food only as much as needed, for a sustainable world with less food waste.