Freezing is among the top solutions in bringing quality products to retail foodservice operations and, in turn, consumers. Foodservice and bakeries want quick solutions such as thaw-and-sell or par-baked products when time, labor and equipment are in limited supply. In some cases, freezing could even be used as a distribution strategy, as when a soft product like sliced bread needs to retain its shape and freshness during the shipping process.
“Quality here is directly linked to freshness,” says Luc Imbrechts, president of Bakon Food Equipment, Inc. With many products in the retail foodservice and bakery industry having high water content, Imbrechts says blast freezing is seeing a rise in importance.
“Correctly freezing these items is only possible by starting the process with blast freezing,” he says. “Deeper temperature and high air flow on the products will ensure that the cold travels rapidly to the core of the products and, by doing so, one makes sure to avoid the creation of large crystals, from the free water, that will damage the products later in the process.”
Bread doughs, cakes and other similar products react close to the same when it comes to freezing because of that high water content. The presence of other components, like sugars and fats, cause their freezing points — the critical temperature region — to differ. When freezing baked goods, the core temperature needs to pass the critical region as quickly as possible. Blast freezing uses a combination of deep temperatures and high air speed to achieve that.
Bakon’s H-80/20 cabinets are a combination of a blast freezer with a storage freezer containing anywhere from two to 10 doors. Its blast freezing technique is suitable for packed and unpacked goods, baked and par-baked products, fresh dough portions, meat, fish and other sensitive foods.
The polyurethane-and-foam insulation is manufactured according to the sandwich technique and the conical bracketing technique. Eighty percent of the unit’s capacity is reserved for the blast freezing section, with the other 20 percent being delivered to the remaining storage sections.
“There are solutions for operations organized around trays, racks or continuous inline approach,” Imbrechts says. “We even offer a plug-and-play testing unit that enables an industrial customer to test the process with their specific products and measure accurately the ideal blast freezing temperature and time. This is extremely helpful when ordering a tunnel freezer, for instance, as it will ensure that the unit is correctly sized.”