Here at EJM, we deal a lot with the food industry, not just because we like food(!) but of course we help install and look after refrigeration equipment. It is part of our commercial sector and the food industry is the largest part of this area. We do all different types of refrigeration installations according to the needs of the client, and budget. Don’t forget we never install anything they don’t need! One of the installations that we do is refrigeration for in-line freezing. This blog is all about in-line freezing and what it is, and how it works. Enjoy!
What is in line freezing?
In its most basic term in line freezing is part of the manufacturing process for food. It is just one of the ways that food is brought to the consumer freshly and with minimal loss of vitamins and nutrients. An in-line freezer is exactly that – in a line, the first part of the line could be the food processing part, we will explain more about this later, but imagine a freezing section at the end of the production line (well almost at the end before the packaging).
What types of foods can be used with this process?
Any types of food can be used in in-line freezing. It is all according to how the company use their food and the products they sell. For example, some companies deal with and process meat, other companies vegetables and some both. Generally, there should be no limit to the types of foods that can be used in in-line freezing, meat, poultry, baked goods, vegetables, fruit, seafood, the list goes on. As you will see later in the blog, the types of foods do have to be considered for freezing times.
What is an example?
Let’s take beef burgers for example. You buy those in the shops ready-packaged and that just need heating up. The process they would have come through beforehand could be as follows:
- The ingredients are mixed at the start of the production line.
- A machine forms then into patties (a beefburger shape).
- They are put into an oven (or fryer, or other cooking machines).
- Once ready they are then put into an in-line freezer.
- Then they are packaged up and transferred to a refrigeration unit before being distributed to the shops.
This is possibly a simplified process, but it is one example of how in-line freezing can work.
What are the benefits of in-line freezing?
Because food is frozen whilst being processed in this way the quality and flavour is preserved. Preserving the freshness is a number one priority for many food manufacturers, go back in history a couple of decades frozen food wasn’t appealing. This is because the in-line freezing process wasn’t used, or at least not used as much. Take salmon, for example, this is one food that once cooked is much better and fresh frozen. Consumers know this and are used to seeing frozen salmon.
What considerations are needed?
With in-line freezing, the main considerations are cleanliness and hygiene. The in-line freezer needs to do its job properly but be able to be maintained and cleaned effectively and efficiently. The parts of the freezer need to be made in such a way that bacteria cannot be harboured in nooks and crannies, so all joints need to be sealed properly and welding needs to be perfect.
Are there considerations with the food?
The main consideration when freezing in line is getting the right freezing times and temperatures correct. This means foods sometimes need different times and temperatures because of their nutritional content. Some foods even of the same type can have different nutritional and mineral content such a sugar. Good in-line freezing will take this into account so the food does not spoil at all and the freshness and taste are kept to a premium.
Is it cost-effective?
In-line freezing is cost-effective and although much of the process will be automated, staff are still needed for checking and quality control, especially at the mid to endpoints of the production line.
How do we find out more?
As always our engineers will give you all the information you need to make an informed choice of whether in-line freezing is the correct method for your company. Our design team will go through everything with you and take into account budgetary restraints and timescales. Don’t forget at EJM we pride ourselves on our customer service, so you can be sure you are getting the best advice.
So in-line freezing is one of their many processes that companies use to bring fresh food to your plates via the supermarket. With more and more ingredients being used and dishes coming from all around the world, keeping the nutritional content and freshness of these foods is a priority. After all your taste buds will be the judge of how successful the process is!