What is IQF Chicken? It’s Benefits for the Food Service Industry
Today is one of those busy days. You’re in the kitchen prepping food for this evening’s menu. Grilled chicken breast is the main course. You bought several packages last week, it should be enough to cover the evening dinner rush.
Opening the package you find the chicken meat stuck together in one large, unappetising mass. You try to break it up by banging the bag on the countertop. It doesn’t work so you grab a knife and begin to chip away, prying loose pieces from the frozen chunk. The package slips and you cut your hand. Your restaurant will soon be full of customers, but you’re standing in your kitchen, running cool water over your hand, wishing life wasn’t so difficult.
Maybe you’ve found yourself in a similar situation, your dinner plans compromised by poor packaging or some other fault in the production process.
Not to worry, you can avoid nightmares like this one by choosing the right chicken supplier.
Individual Quick Freezing (IQF) is a method of food preservation unlike any other. Using advanced technology, individual pieces of meat (or poultry, fish, vegetables, etc.) are rapidly frozen, retaining both quality and taste.
The quick freezing time makes sure your products will be as fresh as ever, from the moment you open the bag to the time you serve your guests.
Individual Quick Freezing is so fast and effective that no ice will form on the product. Direct ice on any product will damage its composition and ruin the outer layer. But with IQF, taste and nutrients are preserved.
You might ask yourself, how is IQF different from other freezing methods? The answer is all in the technology.
The Tech Behind IQF
As mentioned before, IQF uses extremely fast freezing. This stops bigger ice crystals from forming, which can harm the product. Slower freezing methods allow bigger ice crystals to develop, which will damage the product at a molecular level.
When food frozen by slower methods is defrosted, part of it ends up being damaged by those large ice crystals. IQF freezing is simply too fast to allow these big crystals to form.
Ice crystallization occurs at a specific temperature range, between 30 and 25 degrees F (-1 to -4 degrees C). Freezers using IQF technology work so fast that they essentially skip this potentially dangerous temperature zone. In this way the product is frozen before large ice crystals have the time to appear, preserving the product’s quality.
With such quick freezing, the cells of the product itself remain unharmed and keep their original freshness.
Benefits of IQF
- Portion control
- Saves time
- Waste reduction
There are a few benefits to IQF when compared to other food preservation methods. First, portion control. IQF makes taking your product out of the bag a whole lot easier. Remember our example with the chicken meat? They were frozen into one big chunk because of sub-par freezing methods. With IQF, however, each piece of product is individually frozen, ensuring that they won’t stick to one another or the bag, allowing you to take exactly as much as you need anytime.
Second, using IQF products will save you a lot of time in the kitchen. Individually frozen pieces stay separated, which allows them to thaw faster than one big frozen lump. So when you stick your product in the microwave, it will take you considerably less time to defrost.
Lastly, IQF will help you to reduce waste in the kitchen. Since you can remove and use only what you need when you need it, you won’t waste food by taking out too much at one time, only to later throw away the excess.
IQF Compared to Other Freezing Methods
When it comes to wholesale chicken preservation, IQF is more cost effective than Cold Store Freezing. IQF will give you:
- Better quality
- Improved appearance
- More vitamins and minerals
- More product when defrosted
IQF reduces the amount of ice crystals on meat. Since it freezes fast it produces smaller ice crystals than does Cold Store Freezing. Slower freezing means bigger ice crystals, which stretch the cell walls and harm the meat. IQF reduces this process to a minimum, giving you a higher quality frozen meat with improved appearance.
Cold Store Freezing is also notorious for reducing color. Although it may appear okay when first frozen, by the time the meat thaws it becomes discolored and even gray. This is a result of dehydration in Cold Store Freezing, which saps the product of its natural vitamins and minerals. IQF preserves color even when defrosted, evidence that the product has retained its nutrients.
Finally, Cold Store Freezing products undergo product reduction, appearance reduction, and reduction of vitamins and minerals after the meat is thawed. This is caused by water within the meat evaporating. Because the process takes longer, the product is susceptible to damage by water loss through sublimation. Ultimately, this renders some of the product inedible. With IQF, dehydration is avoided because the freezing process is so quick, ensuring that all your product will be edible when defrosted.
Whether you’re a parent buying chicken meat for your family, or a restaurant owner buying wholesale chicken, chicken meat frozen with the IQF method will give you quality meat every time you open the bag. Visit us at poultryeu.eu to find out more about IQF and what our company can do for you.