Today, freezing continues to play an extremely valuable part in food preservation whether for personal or business purposes. Flash freezing or blast freezing is one example. In this regard, you may be wondering, “What is a blast chiller?” This article will cover everything you need to know, including how it works, its benefits, and how it differs from a standard commercial freezer.
What is a Blast Chiller?
A blast chiller is a piece of equipment designed to cool food products rapidly. Blast chilling can chill or freeze your food much faster than ordinary domestic freezers. Not only does this lock in essential vitamins and nutrients, but it also reduces bacterial growth and improves food workflows in commercial kitchens.
What is a Blast Chiller Used for?
A blast chiller, also called a blast freezer or flash freezer, is typically found in commercial kitchens where food safety and freshness is a top priority.
Chilling food the right way is essential for quality and safety. When food is chilled improperly, it might be kept in what is called “the danger zone,” which refers to a temperature range between 8˚C and 68˚C. When food is kept in the danger zone for too long, illness-causing bacteria may grow.
To address such food safety concerns, many restaurants, hotels, cafeterias, and bakeries make use of blast chillers to help with food prep and handling. Unlike standard freezers and refrigerators, blast chillers aren’t meant for long-term or bulk storage of frozen goods. They work by chilling hot, fresh food as quickly as possible before moving it into another freezer for storage.
Blast chillers are often used in bulk or large-scale food preparation. They are designed to hold multiple pans of food for bulk chilling, allowing food establishments to prep and cook food ahead of time to shorten ordering, cooking, and serving times.
Examples of foods that benefit from blast chilling include fresh seafood, blanched or steamed fruits and vegetables, dough for baking, ice cream and sorbet, and cooked meals.
Blast Chilling Process
Since they are able to freeze hot, fresh food very quickly, exactly how do blast chillers work? Blast chillers freeze foods very quickly by blowing forced cooled air over any products placed inside it, reducing the temperature from anywhere above 90°C to low, safe temperatures between 3°C and -18°C.
The cooling process is rapid, which results in fewer and smaller ice crystals appearing on the food as it freezes. This ensures that, upon defrosting, the quality and taste of the food is retained.
What are the Benefits of a Blast Chiller?
Blast chilling has several advantages that make it an excellent method for preserving products in food establishments. Here are a few of the benefits of using a blast chiller:
1. Food safety
The primary concern that blast chilling addresses in food preparation is maintaining safety. Bacteria grows at its quickest in the aforementioned danger zone, so more efficient ways of chilling food are required.
A blast chiller can accomplish this since it reduces the temperature of cooked food to the right levels in just under an hour and a half. After this, it can be moved to another freezer, where it is safe for longer storage and later consumption.
2. Fresh ingredients
Having a blast chiller allows your food business to buy the freshest produce available and keep them fresher and of high quality for a longer period of time. Blast chillers can help you preserve seasonal fruits and vegetables and be able to serve them almost all year round.
3. Less waste
Food waste continues to be an issue with about 17% of total global food production wasted [*]. It has become a priority for many food businesses to cut back on waste through various means.
One way to do this is through proper freezing techniques. By using a blast chiller, it’s possible to increase shelf life and effectively preserve food while maintaining their quality. It also reduces the need to use fresh ingredients as soon as possible for fear that they will spoil quickly.
4. Nutrient retention
Another excellent benefit of blast chilling is that it can help with nutritional retention. Since blast chillers freeze food products quite quickly, it effectively stops rapid nutrient deterioration. Slower freezing processes, on the other hand, would allow changes in the flavor, texture, and overall quality of the food.
Blast chillers are quite versatile and allow chefs and restaurateurs to manage their resources and time more efficiently. While this presents a major advantage in more commercial and professional settings, blast chillers are also beneficial to busy domestic kitchens.
Blast chillers can help with meal preparation at home. By cooking meals beforehand and running them through the blast chiller, you’ll have ready-to-eat dishes from the freezer throughout the week.
It is also possible to stop the cooking process first by blast chilling it and then completing and serving it at a later and more convenient time. Using a blast chiller can also cool down freshly baked goods so there’s no need to wait before applying icing and garnishes.
How Cold is a Blast Chiller?
Blast chiller temperatures can range between 3°C and -18°C. The starting temperature, type of product, and whether the product is being refrigerated or frozen afterwards may affect chilling times. Most models can chill hot food below 3°C within 90 to 120 minutes, which falls within Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) guidelines [*].
Models may vary in terms of temperature settings, cooling speed, and other features, so check first to see if it meets your personal or business requirements. It is also recommended to check local food safety regulations which may vary from state to state.
Blast Chiller vs. Freezer
Blast chillers operate differently from standard commercial freezers. While blast chillers circulate air to cool food products very quickly, freezers simply maintain the temperature of pre-frozen products for long-term storage. It is highly discouraged to add warm products to freezers because it may cause surrounding frozen foods to thaw and refreeze, which may increase the likelihood of bacterial growth.
The best way to chill and store food is by using a blast chiller to rapidly cool the food product before moving it into a refrigerator or freezer.
The Bottom Line
Overall, blast chillers are an excellent addition to any food establishment. Not only can this type of equipment reduce bacterial growth, but it can also retain the freshness and nutrition of food, increase the efficiency of food service, and decrease food wastage.
If you need freezing services for your home or business, feel free to contact Empire Freezing & Drying by calling 973-649-9800 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. We specialize in individual quick freezing (IQF) and freeze drying food products for your various needs.