IQF stands for individually quick frozen, a popular freezing technology developed in the 1960s that keeps bearing fruit to this day. But how does it work, what types of machinery are needed for this type of processing and what could be the advantages of this approach? Find out all that, and more, in this very article.
What is IQF?
The magic of IQF food products is that each piece of fruit, vegetable, cheese, or practically anything else you can think of, is frozen separately from the others. Taking peas, for example, the result of the freezing process will leave each pea intact, as well as separate from the rest. For the consumer, this has the great advantage of being easy to separate as much frozen product, as necessary. This presents equal advantages for both home-cooking, as well as restaurant food production.
First discovered by a biologist who was fishing in Canada, this flash-freezing effect has been proven to preserve the original product to an incredible degree. The reason for that is ice-crystal formation. During most freezing processes, the freezing itself takes place over longer periods, leaving ample room for any water from the product to freeze into large ice crystals. These crystals then interfere with the cell walls, and pierce them over time, damaging their structural integrity. This is the most-common reason frozen products begin changing their color, flavor, and aroma over time.
Meanwhile, IQF processing aims to achieve the flash-freezing effect, while also separating the individual pieces of the product. This leads to the formation of considerably smaller ice crystals in the product, which isn’t big enough to damage the structural integrity of the cells – avoiding the same fate. Let’s investigate how this process takes place.
What is an IQF processing line?
Some of the best engineers in the world have worked over many years to create Octofrost’s premier IQF processing line. The results speak for themselves. We look to supply a comprehensive, top-to-bottom approach that will streamline production and skyrocket sales.
All too often, when mixing equipment from different vendors, novel issues can arise due to unforeseen problems. With an IQF processing line at your disposal, you have the guarantee that everything works together entirely as intended. Furthermore, by knowing exactly what we’re working with, it’s possible to increase efficiency and optimize the processes to an incredible degree. Here’s how you will benefit from it:
- Centralized support – upon any request, issue or question, there is a single party who you know is responsible for holding all the answers. We’re here to keep your profitability high, and available around the clock to aid you in every way we can.
- Specialized technology – we offer you specialized production lines for asparagus, spinach, shrimp, and a more general, well-performing fruits and vegetables line.
- Efficiency – being able to depend on your equipment is one of the fortes of choosing a processing line. The rain-shower and cross-flow water systems interact in the IF Blancher and Chiller, recycling it and minimizing resource cost. Additionally, the speed of the fans can be adjusted to match your exact needs.
- High yield – our equipment has a processing capacity of 1,000 to 15,000 kg/h, ideal for enterprises of any size.
These are the production steps involved in each processing line:
- In-feed – depending on your chosen product, you will need to adjust the in-feeding options accordingly. Some products are more fragile than others, which is why we offer specialized options at this point.
- Blanching or Cooking – vegetables are blanched, shrimp is cooked, with the main distinction being the duration of the exposure to hot water. Because products such as shrimp require more attention during the cooking process, we’ve devised the IF Cooker, offering precise temperature control over multiple temperature zones. This avoids over-cooked, as well as undercooked shrimp. The blancher preserves the natural appearance of vegetables while preparing them for the next processing steps. The approach here is showering the product with hot rainfall, spreading it uniformly.
- Chilling – the IF Chiller was designed to quickly cool down the cooked or blanched product using the same rain-shower approach, but now with the quickest heat transfer, lowering the temperature to around 7 Celsius, from 85 Celsius. The goal of processing at this point stays speed.
- Rinsing – a short intermediate step sees the product rinsed off of all the water covering it so that it can be frozen safely.
- Freezing – finally, the IQF Freezer has fans circulating freezing air onto the product from multiple directions, achieving the flash-freeze effect. The product is naturally separated by the air fluctuations and ends up frozen separately.
Key features of the IQF processing line
The features are analogous for all Octofrost’s processing lines, but taking the vegetable processing line as an example, there are certain elements you can look forward to.
A harmonized performance
Thanks to the unique combination of technologies involved in making the Octofrost IQF processing line a success, you can be certain that everything fits together nicely. The end result? Impeccable performance. It’s difficult to find a better opportunity elsewhere, as this solution has been thoroughly developed and engineered.
Excellent nutritional value
Frozen food is the food of the future – that’s what we stand by and that’s the level of quality we deliver. Your product is guaranteed to contain as many nutrients as possible, with vitamins locked in and ready to be delivered straight to your buyers.
Unique & patented bedplate technology
Having received international renown, it has proved itself on the international scene. This allows for easy and efficient maintenance, as the bedplates can be easily switched during production, without halting it. Additionally, they offer industry-leading hygiene performance, as they can be easily removed and washed down. This is more difficult with the industry belts, which leads to a considerable challenge for food-grade safety and cross-contamination control.
The greatest advantage of our production line, however, lies in its ability to freeze products at remarkably high rates, leading to a more natural, appealing frozen product. It’s possible to freeze everything from fruits to seafood to pasta and more within the same freezer. With frozen food consumption steadily increasing worldwide, now’s the time to get started.