Food products that are only available during certain times of the year can be challenging for many businesses selling fresh produce and meat. This may even frustrate individuals who need specific foods due to the diets they’re following. Fortunately, IQF food is a great option for anyone to enjoy freshness all year round!
Chances are you’ve picked up a pack of individually quick-frozen (IQF) food some time in the past. But what is it and what benefits does it provide? We’ll talk about this more in this article.
What is IQF Food?
IQF stands for individual quick freezing — a technique that quickly and effectively freezes food products individually. It’s often referred to as “flash freezing.”
Unlike other food preservation methods like dehydrating and canning, IQF involves a brief freezing time, ensuring that the products are perfectly fresh when they arrive at your store or kitchen. IQF foods remain fresh until they’re removed from their packages, prepared, and served to customers and guests.
The freezing process is also very efficient that no larger ice crystals, which might potentially harm cells, form. As a result, individually quick frozen foods like meat may retain its original flavor and structure. It also keeps its nutritional value, which includes all the necessary vitamins and minerals that support good health.
How Does IQF Work?
IQF uses a blast chiller or a machine with a conveyor belt that transports products through a tunnel for individual freezing. IQF is different from cold storage freezing in that the latter may clump food items together, whereas IQF freezes every single component individually.
Common Examples of IQF Foods
The options available for individual quick freezing are almost endless. Popular examples include:
- Vegetables like corn, peas, green beans
- Fish and shellfish like fish fillets, shrimp, and scallops
- Poultry, such as individual chicken breasts
- IQF fruits like strawberries and apples
- Other types of animal products like meatballs, pork strips, and sausages
The Advantages of IQF Food
There are many advantages to using the IQF process instead of other freezing or preservation methods:
Lack of preservatives
When food is frozen using a method like IQF, they no longer need preservatives. The process of freezing the food keeps it fresh without additives. This is beneficial for food businesses like restaurants that might wish to serve fresh fish despite not being near the coast.
Food is always in season
Certain seasonal foods such as fruits can now be available all year round, thanks to IQF! No matter the season, it’s possible to keep any fruit, vegetable, or other produce fresh. This is especially helpful if your business relies on serving certain specific types of fresh food all year round. You will not be limited by seasonal menus or offerings with the help of IQF.
Frozen foods are often cheaper for many individuals, and the same goes for bulk buyers. Though conventionally frozen foods are ultimately the most affordable, there are many benefits that distributors can get from IQF, such as preserving quality, easier sorting, and more efficient handling.
Traditional freezing methods may be cheap and efficient, but quality assurance is not as high compared to using flash freezing methods. Since IQF reduces cell damage during the chilling process, the product’s texture and flavor are preserved even after defrosting.
Minimize food waste
Compared to fresh foods, freezing is often more lenient with the food items that are included. For instance, vegetables are selected even if they show some imperfections as long as they’re not spoiled and are safe to eat. This is advantageous because it saves money in the long term.
What’s the Difference Between IQF and Flash Frozen Foods?
IQF and flash freezing refer to the same process. They both involve placing food in an environment that goes beyond 25 degrees Fahrenheit for a number of minutes.
What’s the Temperature of IQF Foods?
The key to IQF is moving food as quickly as possible between the 31 to 25 F° temperature range. This typically takes a much shorter time than conventional freezing.
Are IQF Foods Healthy?
If the food was healthy before freezing, then the nutritional value will be retained after IQF is done. For instance, there is very little difference in how healthy fresh vegetables are compared to frozen ones. In fact, preserving methods like IQF may even help vegetables retain more nutrients that might be lost due to time and spoilage.
Do IQF Foods Contain Preservatives?
The answer is no, IQF foods contain zero preservatives since the freezing process is the main preservation method used. Additionally, manufacturers have the option to fortify these foods with vitamins and minerals to make them more beneficial for consumers.
IQF is a preservation process that effectively freezes food products individually. This has a number of benefits, including more nutritious foods, easier handling and distributing, and quality assurance.
Also known as flash-freezing, this process allows produce to retain their nutritional content without damaging the exterior of the food. While traditionally frozen foods might be cheaper, IQF is a better freezing method due to its ability to retain quality.
Overall, IQF an excellent freezing method for food businesses and individuals alike. If your home business or restaurant is in need of IQF services, then contact us at Empire Freezing & Drying by calling 973-649-9800 or emailing email@example.com.