From Farm to Freezer: How Freezing Locks in Nutrition, Flavor and Taste of the Foods We Love

Nearly every household in America buys frozen food. Many, however, may not be familiar with how today’s freezing technology ensures the nutrition and quality that we expect. A new report released by the American Frozen Food Institute (AFFI) explains  how frozen food makers are able to lock in the nutrition of food by simply lowering a food’s temperature state, and why innovations in freezing create a quality product.

Continue reading to get an inside look at freezing:

The Science Behind Freezing

  • How Freezing Works

Freezing preserves food by solidifying naturally-occurring water in foods. The solid water pauses nutrient degradation, bacterial growth, and enzyme activity. By simply lowering a food’s temperature, frozen food makers can stop these steps and prevent the degradation of food.

  • Individual Quick Freezing

Frozen food makers frequently use a method called Individual Quick Freezing (IQF) to quickly extract heat from just-picked, just-cooked and just-crafted foods. IQF technology uses extremely low temperatures (-40°F) and turbulent airflow around the food to freeze it in a matter of minutes. In addition to quickly freezing food, IQF is highly effective at preserving individual foods such as blueberries, corn, and shrimp.

  • Speed Matters

When food freezes more quickly, smaller ice crystals will form. Smaller ice crystals mean less damage to the food’s cellular walls, which results in better texture and flavor of the foods we love – whether produce frozen at the peak of ripeness or freshly-prepared meals.

Freezing Locks in Quality

  • Sensory Experience

By pausing enzymatic activity with a low temperature state, frozen food makers can stop the processes that cause food to lose their color and delicious taste. That’s why we still enjoy colorful produce, sweet fruit or savory meals from the freezer.

  • Prevents Soggy Food

Starches such as rice, pasta, and quinoa also benefit from IQF, as the smaller ice crystals prevent these foods from becoming mushy when thawed. Producers of grains such as pastas or rice will blanch or par-cook the grains to stabilize the moisture and enzymes of grains to ensure even freezing and texture.

  • Don’t Get Burned

“Freezer burn” is dehydration of the outer surfaces of a frozen food and related development of large ice crystals on frozen foods. Frozen foods exposed to air inside the freezer will suffer damage from oxidation and dehydration. This dryness in the surrounding air can cause the moisture inside the food to escape and form these large ice crystals that comprise the color, texture and flavor of foods. To help avoid this, make sure to follow package directions for storing frozen food and use it within the suggested time. If you do experience freezer burn, just remove the “burned” portion and eat the food that remains – it is safe to eat.

Nutritional Benefits of Frozen Foods

  • Farm-Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

Frozen food makers will freeze fruits and vegetables just after they are picked at the peak of ripeness. Freezing them at this stage helps to lock in vitamins and minerals. For instance, frozen berries are a great source of vitamins C and K, while frozen spinach is rich in iron and calcium. In fact, frozen fruits and vegetables have the same nutrient profile as their non-frozen counterparts.

  • Nutrient-Rich Proteins

Research demonstrates that freezing saves the levels of protein and vitamins A and D in meat, seafood, and poultry.

Frozen Food Provides Big Benefits

Freezing provides significant benefits for consumers. By capturing produce at its peak freshness, freezing makes fruits and vegetables available year-round to families. It also allows for shoppers to enjoy delicious meals without the added preparation time required to cook from scratch. Additionally, once food is frozen, it remains safe for a long time, reducing food waste and extending the value of consumers’ food budgets.

Click through to learn more about how today’s frozen food makers provide quality and safe food thanks to the act of freezing.