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Blast chiller/freezers use a powered refrigeration system that fiercely drives cold air to pull down the temperature of hot food quickly to a low temperature that is relatively safe from bacterial growth, whilst maintaining food quality. Bacteria multiply fastest between +8°C and +68°C. By reducing the temperature of cooked food from +70 °C to +3 °C or below within 90 minutes, the food is rendered safe so it can be safely stored in chilled or frozen form for future reheating. Food temperature and chilling time must be able to be controlled and monitored simply in order to control these decisive factors in order to comply with the current requirements to chill food items from +70°C to +3°C in 90 minutes in a cook-chill operation.
A blast chiller is an integral part of any cook-chill operation, as the time taken to cool products is major factor in preserving the appearance and taste of the food, preserving the vitamins and nourishment value and preventing the growth of bacteria. Cooling hot foods in a fridge already containing chilled foods is very dangerous as it will raise the temperature of all of the food in the fridge and pose a major food safety risk.
With Blast Freezing current European guidelines recommend that food be reduced from a temperature of +70ºC to –18ºC in no more than 240 minutes. With blast freezing colour, texture, flavour, structure and nutritional value is locked in. Delicate food surfaces such as pasta and fruit are protected, as rapid chilling stops an “ice skin” forming which otherwise dehydrates and damages the products’ appearance. Blast freezing also helps to keep food looking good. The slower food freezes, the larger the ice crystals formed; and large ice crystals can damage food, dry it out, and break down the physical structure leaving you with an unusable product. Air chill/freeze temperatures are fully adjustable, depending on the food to be chilled, to ensure your end product is of the best quality.
Blast chilling/freezing of food also makes it possible to separate the preparation and cooking activities from the serving. This enables the kitchen to utilise preparation and cooking equipment in a more even manner throughout the day, resulting in a reduction in stress at peak periods.
Kitchens with blast chillers and freezers throw away less food. Food left over, from a hot servery for example, can quickly and safely be chilled for later use, with complete confidence in its quality and safety. Once prepared and chilled, only the correct numbers need be reheated, as legislation states that chilled food can be safely kept below +3ºC for up to 5 days after production. Blast chillers can even be used to chill wine, cans or other drinks, buffet dishes, salads and serving dishes.