Frozen Food is becoming more and more used in our daily lives. Frozen food comes packaged in a frozen state to our tables. Therefore it is important to know the frozen food manufacturing process and also how to preserve these frozen foods.
In fact, I personally make several frozen food recipes for lunch or dinner. Frozen foods also provide a lot of dinner or lunch options to cook.
Apart from that, frozen foods are easy to cook as well. It is as easy as just frying or baking them after taking the food out of the freezer.
The main reason the foods are frozen is that to extend the longevity of the food. Mainly, food that is frozen is deprived of moisture and water which is the main reason for the growth of bacteria which is halted in the case of frozen food.
Also, these frozen foods are mainly bought by restaurants and large-scale food manufacturing industries where they store the frozen food in a freezer and use it for their requirements at a later point in time.
Note: In this post, raw material refers to fresh vegetables or any fresh non-veg food such as chicken, fish, prawn, etc.
Step By Step Process in Manufacturing Frozen Food
Frozen Foods are manufactured in frozen food processing plants where the fresh foods are taken in and after the food is processed then cooled to very low temperatures.
Also, Frozen food eliminates the usage of preservatives because the low temperatures of the food inhibit the growth of bacteria which is the main reason for food spoilage.
The First step in the frozen food manufacturing process is that the food whether it is vegetarian food or non-vegetarian food should be sourced locally. This because the plant requires a constant supply of raw materials in order to keep the processing plant up and running.
The raw material (fresh food) is manually picked up and stored in a plastic container and is sent directly to the frozen food processing plant. Then each container is checked whether the raw material contains any defective units.
Some of the types of frozen food include:
- Sweet Corn Kernels
- Green Peas
- Diced Chicken Blocks
- Chopped Lady’s Finger/Okra
- Sliced Fish
- Chicken Kebab
- Green Beans
- Tater Tots
- Ice Cream
- Chicken Breasts
- Green Broccoli
- Ready To Eat Foods
- Baby Potatoes
- Ready To Fry Mini Samosas
- Pizza Dough
- Lamb Chops
- Hot Dogs
- Ripe Mangoes
Then the food is sent for manual inspection where workers in the factory manually check each and every unit of the raw material. Every worker in the factory is sanitized before handling the food.
Then, each and every worker cuts the useful part of a food and discards the part which is not suitable for consumption. Once the fresh food is cut and manually inspected, then it moves to the larger conveyor belt where the belt moves the processed food to different stages of processing units within the plant.
The conveyor belt moves the food to a sorter where the unit separator sorts the good material and discards the damaged or small pieces of raw material. This sorting process help to maintain the size and integrity of the fresh food.
After the sorting process, the conveyor belt drops the raw material into the freshwater, where foreign materials like soil and dust are washed away from the fresh food. The water is treated with UV to eliminate any bacteria present in the water.
Blanching and Cooling Process
The next step in the frozen food manufacturing process is the blanching and cooling process. This process helps to kill enzymes in the food and also maintain the color of the fresh food.
The conveyor belt moves the fresh food to a heated container where heated water is sprayed on top of the raw material(vegetables or any non-vegetarian fresh food) for a short period of time. This removes any enzymes in the food which helps to prevent the proliferation of microbes in the food.
Once the food is heated, the conveyor belt moves the heated food into cool containers. Here cooled water ranging from 10 to 14-degree Celsius is sprayed on top of the raw material to cool the processed food to low temperature.
Once the processed food comes out after the blanching and cooling process, workers inspect the blanched and cooled food to remove the defective food pieces.
Individual Quick Freezer
Individual Quick Freezer is a machine in the frozen food factory and this where the food gets frozen.
Once the blanching and cooling process is over, the dewatering process is done. The blanched and cooled food contains water because of the hot and cool water being used in the process. But to freeze the food, the excess water must be removed from the raw material.
The dewatering process is done by transferring the raw material from a normal conveyor to a vibrating conveyor. The vibrating conveyor vibrates the raw material to shake off any excess water from the food. This helps to prevent any extra ice layers while freezing the raw material.
Thus by the dewatering process, excess water is removed from the blanched and cooled raw material. The Individual Quick Freezer freezes the raw material to -18 degrees celsius.
This Frozen Food from the Individual Quick Freezing unit is rock hard and very cold to touch. Hence care is taken while handling frozen food. Workers use protective gloves to handle the frozen food coming out of the frozen conveyor.
Inspection Of Frozen Food
Once the freezing process of the food is complete, then it is moved to Food Quality Inspection Unit. In this unit, there is a team of food quality auditing workers constantly monitoring the quality of food coming out of the frozen conveyor belts.
The auditing workers take safety precautions and ensure high-quality food comes out of the processing plant. Also, they are very careful not to contaminate the food furthermore from their end. They use gloves and coats while handling the frozen food.
In this process, any deformed or mushed pieces of food are carefully analyzed, picked, and eliminated.
Packing Of Frozen Food
Once the quality inspection is done, the frozen food is packed in HDPE(High-Density Polythene) plastic bags. The product name, batch code, and weight are printed on the plastic bag. Each plastic bag holding the frozen food should be of equal weight throughout the process.
Hence each and every plastic bag is weighed on a weighing machine. If some plastic bag weighs more than the prescribed weight, then some of the food is removed from the bag so that each bag weighs within the prescribed limit.
Two to three workers are usually assigned to handle the packing department.
Automatic Packaging Unit
The final stage in the frozen food manufacturing process is the automatic packaging process.
The frozen food from the plastic bag is poured on a conveyor belt where the frozen food moves towards the automatic packaging unit.
The whole frozen food packaging process is automated. The frozen food conveyor belt moves to the automatic weighing machine where the frozen food is separated based on weight. The conveyor belt pours the frozen food into several small containers.
Once the weight reaches the predefined limit, the small containers send the fallen frozen food from the conveyor belt to the integrated automatic packing machine where the frozen food is packed into branded plastic bags.
Finally, they are weighed if the packaging falls within the prescribed limit. Also, the packaged frozen food is moved to metal detectors where the metals in the frozen food are detected. They are automatically picked and eliminated.
What is the temperature of Frozen Food?
The temperature of the frozen food is -18o C or zero Celsius (Source). The frozen food should be stored at low temperatures in freezers. Once the frozen food is stored in the freezer, check the temperature of the freezer using an industry-grade thermometer. This is done because the temperature should be kept constant within the freezer. If the temperature is not kept constant, the cycle of frosting and defrosting occurs which may spoil the texture of frozen food.
Frozen Food Vs Cold Storage
The main difference between frozen food and cold storage is that frozen food is directly frozen when coming out of the processing plant whereas cold storage is a place where the frozen food is stored. Frozen food is related to the manufacturing process whereas cold storage is related to the storage process. Once the Frozen food manufacturing process is done, the frozen food is stored in cold storage to maintain the low temperatures of the food which is frozen before reaching the consumer.
Can Frozen Foods Be Prepared at Home?
No, the frozen foods can not be manufactured at home. Only the frozen foods bought from the market can be stored in freezers at home. Frozen foods are manufactured in cold food processing plants through a process called the frozen food manufacturing process.
Frozen Food Tips
- Before using frozen food for cooking purposes, defrost the food before using. This helps to ease the tightness of the food and also the texture of the food is maintained. Defrosting can be achieved by placing the frozen food in an oven or placing the cold food in a bowl and again placing the bowl in a hot water.
- Use proper caution while handling cold or frozen food as they tend to thaw your palms when held longer. Hence use proper gloves while handling cold food.
- Once the frozen food is bought from the store, make sure you place the frozen food immediately in your home fridge freezer as keeping frozen food outside for a long time, tends to spoil the food and degrade the texture of the food.
- Make sure to read the shelf life of the frozen foods in the packaging before buying. Also, it is important to check the expiration date of the frozen food.
Hence we saw detailed step-by-step instructions on how frozen foods are made and it must have provided you some insight into the frozen food manufacturing process.
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