5 Reasons to use a Blast Chiller
Sep 08, 2021 Kitchen Equipment
When it comes to food safety and increased efficiency as well as decreasing food waste, a blast chiller can be a huge advantage to your business. While food safety is certainly one of the most important reasons to purchase a blast chiller, the benefits extend well beyond safe cooling; from better food quality and higher yield, to lower food and labor costs, as well. Yet many operators still consider these units a luxury item when in reality, their value should be weighed across this broad spectrum of benefits.
What is a Blast Chiller?
A blast chiller, also known as a flash freezer, is a piece of equipment that is designed to lower food temperature quickly. Equipped with multiple shelves, a blast chiller can freeze multiple types of foods all at once. While commercial kitchens use the unit to rapidly freeze product, many also use it to thaw and temporarily chill batches of food, such as pastas, breads or freshly made desserts like ice creams and sorbets.
How does a Blast Chiller work?
The operational process of a blast chiller is designed to cool or freeze food rapidly. The trays are placed inside the blast chiller and then a fan blows chilled air over the food, rapidly cooling it down. Unlike a standard freezer, the blast chiller is able to direct cold air over and around the product, which decreases the number of ice crystals that form on the product, limiting moisture when the food is defrosted or cooked.
Why use a blast chiller?
- Food Safety and Preventing Bacterial Growth
Both the cooling process and product temperature play a crucial role in preventing bacteria growth. Bacteria like E. coli and Staphylococcus grows rapidly between 40°F – 140°F, which is commonly referred to as the “danger zone.” Blast chillers are designed to bring the core temperature of food from around 160°F or more down to 41°F or less in about 90 minutes.
Improper refrigeration or freezing can increase the risk of foodborne illness by allowing food to stay in the “danger zone” temperature range for a prolonged period of time. This is why a blast chiller is a major asset. The Blast Chiller's ability to quickly lower food temperature keeps any product out of that danger zone. In addition, blast chillers report and log temperatures automatically and keep your records for you in order to remain HACCP compliant.
- Maintain Food Quality, Taste and Texture
Food often changes the way it tastes the longer it is left at room temperature. There can be many reasons for this – oxidation, the breakdown of the food through other chemical reactions or even it continuing to cook if it retains its heat for too long. But the quick process of blast chilling protects against this, so your food tastes like it has just been prepared.
Blast chillers also often protect the structure of your food if you are freezing it. Rapid cooling minimizes loss from evaporation compared to a normal cool process (like within a refrigerator). In addition, blast chilling helps decrease the size of ice crystals that form in food when it is cooled and frozen. Larger ice crystals damage food when the food is defrosted and cause excess moisture release that can ruin flavor and texture.
- Increase the Efficiency of your Kitchen
Regardless of who’s in the kitchen, blast chillers also yield some important time-saving benefits for chefs and their teams. There are manual ways of quickly reducing a dish’s temperature to a safe range within an allotted time frame such as soaking the food in an ice water bath or separating portions into smaller containers. While effective, these methods require significant effort and attention from staff—resources that could be applied to other kitchen activities.
With a blast chiller, crews can quickly set foods into the chamber and be confident they will be brought down to the proper temperature in the right amount of time, at which point they can be moved into a conventional refrigerator or freezer.
- Buy In Bulk – Regardless of the Season!
As blast chilling or blast freezing maintains the fresh quality of your ingredients, you can buy larger quantities of produce when it is in season, readily available, and priced at its lowest. You can then store it for long periods of time, without compromising the quality or freshness.
It is widely accepted that in-season premium quality products that have been blast frozen and thawed are often better quality than a fresh product that is available out of its peak season. Blast chilling and blast freezing equipment simplifies your overall commercial kitchen ordering process, and enables you to plan more effectively, without too many disruptions to your menu caused by a lack of availability.
- Reduce Waste & Save Money
Standard freezing may cause items to suffer from product deterioration, freezer burn, and shelf life reduction leading to discarding the damaged food and creating waste. Blast chillers eliminate the temperature fluctuations found in standard freezing units and come with alarms to warn if the chilling process is interrupted, so that they can be quickly rectified.
Blast chilling increases the shelf life of your food product, ensuring you have more time allowance to serve/sell/allocate your food products, resulting in a large reduction of waste, meaning less money being thrown away.
Which Blast Chiller is Right for you?
Blast chillers are typically a purchase made in addition to traditional refrigeration and freezer units. Your needs and operation type will determine the correct size for your blast chiller:
- How much product will you need to process at once?
- What size containers will you need?
- What is the setup of your kitchen?
- Will you be preparing food in your blast chiller?
The above considerations are all extremely important when deciding which blast chiller would best suit your needs. Would you require a roll-in blast chiller? An undercounter? Or a reach-in unit?
Afinox blast chillers range from the 5-tray model, ideal for small businesses, up to blast chilling 120-tray cells destined for large distribution, canteens and collectives.
Additionally, the INFNITY model is much more than a blast chiller; it is a 6 in 1 multifunctional assistant with touch screen system that guarantees the best performance throughout the entire Cook & Chill process, from the blast chilling of the product to its cooking.
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To learn more about Afinox Infinity Blast Chillers, click here.