What is IQF and how does it work

IQF stands for “individually quick-frozen.” It refers to a method of freezing food products where each piece freezes separately, avoiding the creation of any clumps of masses that stick together. This makes it effortless to select as large a portion of frozen goods as you need when cooking, for instance. 

The method was initially discovered by Clarence Birdseye during a fishing trip, who managed to observe the flash freezing phenomenon first-hand. By leaving the fish out of the water in the cold, and then cooking it over a fire much later, he noticed that it tasted fresh. This led to the dawn of the frozen food industry, which has helped reduce food waste and created ample sources of healthy nutritional options for the average individual.

Two great advantages of IQF freezing

When considering whether IQF-frozen goods are your go-to, it’s important to consider the utility they provide. Firstly, as previously mentioned, they offer unparalleled ease of use for the consumer. The ability to easily separate the frozen products into individual pieces and take out only as much as necessary is incredibly useful for quickly preparing meals or saving time in the kitchen. Forget about trying to slice or chisel away at a half-frozen piece of turkey, now it’s possible to take as many pieces of the frozen goods as you need, and store away the rest for later.

This directly benefits chain restaurants and culinary enterprises that rely on availability and speed as their main components of success. Additionally, the presentation is much more appealing as a result. Imagine you buy a package of frozen grapes: which would you prefer, many small grapes, individually separated and chilled to perfection on a summer day? Or a block of grapes that requires force to separate and may lead to some of the grapes breaking, thanks to the force necessary to be applied? Naturally, the choice that’s easy to use and easy on the eyes should win out.

However, if you’re still not convinced, there’s another great advantage of IQF technology that’s hard to match elsewhere. Namely, in the size of the ice crystal formation. While seemingly a small, technical difference, it has an enormous impact on the taste, color, texture, and even smell of the frozen product. Here’s how: when you freeze goods using a different approach, typically the water that is frozen transforms into ice, and this ice is made of ice crystals, with an incredibly small size. 

Importantly, if these crystals are too big, they will damage the cellular membrane of the product, which leads to the insides of the cells spilling outside. This is what most often causes discoloration, affects taste and texture, and overall lowers the quality of the product. However, IQF manufacturers have taken it into account. That’s why, during the freezing process, speed is kept at an all-time high, which, coupled with the unique flash-freezing approach, avoids the formation of ice crystals and doesn’t affect the cellular membranes. This preserves the product in as much of a natural state as possible.

Freezing magic – how IQF makes it work

As previously noted, one of the keys to understanding how the IQF freezing process works is by noticing that the processing speeds are remarkably high. Another reason IQF works so well relies on the engineering that goes into the entire process. Taking OctoFrost’s IQF processing lines as an example, you will notice that it’s not just a freezer: it’s an entire mechanical orchestra, working in tandem towards a singular goal – that of creating the ultimate frozen goods.

Here are the components:

  • OctoFrost’s Blancher and Chiller – this is a step called pre-processing, where the product is blanched for enzyme deactivation, as well as eliminating surface bacteria. In the case of shrimp, the OctoFrost Cooker ensures perfect cooking temperature distribution during processing, as to neither overcook and lose some of the taste and nutrients, nor undercook and sacrifice food safety. The approach here is called impingement: a process through which small water droplets fall over the product in a rain shower formation, which serves the purpose of both transferring temperatures quickly, as well as keeping the food product intact.
  • OctoFrost’s IQF Freezer – covering a wide range of products, the Freezer is the crown jewel of the processing line. It can be used within OctoFrost’s line, or within an existing processing line without loss of utility. It features a hygienic design, making it easy to clean inside and out, user-friendly touch screen controls, and optimal aerodynamics. The freezing is done by way of the unique and patented bedplate technology, which supplies industry-leading hygienic design for use in production. With its help, the freezing wind blows through perforations within the bedplates from above and below, in a circular fashion, freezing the product while reducing lumps and supplying the highest quality product possible.

The result preserves many of its natural properties, such as appearance and nutritional value. The entire processing line is designed to be highly efficient. Recirculating water and air as part of the process ensures energy efficiency is high with the help of adjustable fans’ airflow. Despite the high speed at which products are processed, it’s possible to ensure exceedingly high yield by reducing product dehydration with this technology, along with the ability to exchange bedplates routinely or as necessary on the go, thereby ensuring maximum productivity. 

OctoFrost’s IQF machinery is continuously developed and perfected, leading to exceptional results regularly. Installation is quick and effortless on your part, with guaranteed maintenance as part of the agreement. The main advantage IQF provides is the ability to quickly and effectively create large volumes of premium-grade frozen products, to keep up with global demand. With easy storage and great profitability, IQF products are consistently on the rise in terms of popularity and frozen food market shares. This creates many opportunities for experienced and new business-oriented minds to take matters into their own hands and create an enterprise for themselves.

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