by Martin Johnson
The Origins and Benefits of Flash Frozen Food
The idea of freezing our food in order to preserve it, dates back centuries. One of the very first methods we know of to freeze food were ice cellars built by the ancient Chinese to preserve goods in the winter months. Another early method of preservation employed by the Romans was to use compressed snow in insulated cellars.
What marked the beginnings of the modern frozen food industry were the observations that Clarence Birdseye made on a fur trading expedition in Canada in the early twentieth century. He saw that the local people had discovered that it was possible to preserve fish and meat by letting it freeze quickly in the arctic temperatures. This method was able to preserve the quality and taste of food whilst allowing it to last for much longer than fresh food at normal temperatures.
He introduced the idea to the United States when he returned and spent many years working on perfecting the ‘quick freezing’ of food items. This means to rapidly freeze produce using very cold temperatures. Water within the food forms into small ice crystals and this prevents cells within the food from becoming damaged. Quick freezing and thereafter storing the produce at below -18 degrees Celsius prevents the food from degrading as would happen naturally at normal temperatures.
If this method is used and the goods are stored properly the foods color, nutritional value, texture and taste will all be preserved. It is important to remember that quick freezing is not what our common household freezers do to our food. This is a commercial freezing method that is used to freeze products that are then sold on to us from supermarkets. The freezers which we have in our houses do not freeze food quickly enough for it to retain its quality in the same way as it does when having been flash frozen. The purpose of the freezers which we have at home is to store frozen products which we buy from the supermarket, not to freeze fresh food.
There are many benefits to freezing our food. It is proven that certain types of frozen vegetables contain more vitamin C then their fresh counterparts. This is because the flash freezing process occurs straight after the food is harvested which means that they are frozen at their optimum quality. Some fresh goods take around a week to even get to shop shelves and all of the time they are slowly losing their nutrients. It is not often thought to be the case but in some cases frozen can indeed be better than fresh!
It pays to keep your household freezer in good condition so you can reap the benefits of healthy frozen goods.