Home chefs and restaurant chefs alike know that freezing foods like meat, fruits, and vegetables can help them retain their freshness for longer. What many, including those that purchase for them, do not know, is just how much quality can be preserved when utilizing the appropriate freezing process.
You may have heard of IQF freezing, in which foods get frozen very quickly so as to allow them to arrive in customers’ kitchens completely fresh.
What are some common IQF food products? Let’s take a look.
During IQF freezing, food products get packaged individually. For example, blueberries get frozen individually instead of frozen altogether in a giant block of fruit. This makes them much easier for restaurants and others to work with, as it maintains their freshness and their whole, crisp aesthetic.
During IQF freezing, food items are sent via a conveyor belt through a blast chiller. Food items will stay separate after they get frozen, as mentioned above.
With traditional freezing, large ice crystals can damage cells and crystal fibers. This can make your groceries limp and dried out. Ice crystals can puncture the cell membranes of the food product, which causes them to leak intracellular fluid during thawing. This can cause the texture of the food to become mushy and unappealing.
Smaller ice crystals, however, such as the ones used through the IQF process, can help maintain a soft, creamy texture. The longer foods freeze, the more ice crystals will form. Quickly freezing foods, however, produces very small ice crystals that allow the fibers of your food to remain unscathed.
One of the main reasons that grocery store and restaurant distributors prefer to buy frozen foods is that no preservatives need to be added to keep them fresh. This is true across the spectrum, including meat, fish, fruits, and vegetables.
Generally, frozen foods retain their vitamins and minerals. Freezing also does not change carbohydrates, protein, or fat content.
Frozen foods also have the same nutritional value as fresh food. Many cooks also enjoy the benefits of being able to use all types of fruits and vegetables year-round, which makes cooking a diverse array of dishes more affordable across the spectrum.
Many fruits and vegetables are quick-frozen. Foods like strawberries, blueberries, corn, peas, and green beans are often frozen quickly.
Berries are loaded with antioxidants and high in fiber. They may also serve to decrease your cholesterol levels. Flash-frozen berries are a very healthy snack when blended with some Greek yogurt for a delicious smoothie.
Frozen tiny vegetables like peas and corn are an easy way to add healthy touches to soup, stews, and casseroles. Busy families can try some frozen veggies in a crockpot with some chicken and biscuits for a down-home, comfort food experience.
Green peas contain heart-healthy minerals including potassium and calcium. These can reduce your risk of stroke, blood pressure, and heart disease.
Frozen corn is rich in B12, folic acid, and iron. It can give you energy and help lower your cholesterol. It may even help preserve the youth in your skin!
Frozen green beans are also a popular dinner addition. They are a great source of Vitamin D, dietary fiber, folate, and Vitamin K. These vitamins are great for a variety of purposes, including healthy bones, skin, and hair.
You may also find seafood quick-frozen, including organisms like tiny shrimp and scallops. These are high in Omega-3 fatty acids, which are great for lowering cholesterol. Shrimp and scallops also contain healthy levels of vitamins and minerals like Vitamin D, potassium, and magnesium.
Individual chicken breasts or wings can get quick-frozen. These are an excellent source of lean protein, which tastes great and helps you lose weight while keeping your energy up. Chicken is also a great source of Vitamin B, Vitamin D, calcium, iron, and zinc.
During the colder months, many cooks in colder climates rely on fruits and vegetables that are either frozen or canned. Eating canned fruits and vegetables is healthier than not eating any, and it is certainly better than their overly processed counterparts.
Frozen foods, however, do have certain benefits. They are usually picked, blanched, and frozen within hours of their harvest. In freezing foods immediately, the nutritional value is preserved. Frozen produce may even contain more nutrients than fresh products.
Canned fruits and vegetables, by contrast, may lose some of their nutritional value during the canning process. This is because the nutrients may end up in the water they are sitting in, rather than in the produce products themselves.
IQF food products are frozen in individual pieces to provide maximum convenience and preservation of texture. They may include lean protein, fruits, and vegetables. During colder seasons, frozen foods deliver nutrition, convenience, and freshness to your customers and their businesses.
To take advantage of these benefits and more, contact us today!