WHY FLUIDIZATION MATTERS IN IQF FREEZING | A BRIEF INTRODUCTION TO IQF
WHAT IS IQF?
IQF stands for "Individually Quickly Frozen" as each individual piece of food is frozen fast and individually. It is a well-known and efficient technology used for quickly freezing products such as vegetables, berries, seafood, meat, dairy, and pasta. This is the most common method of freezing individual pieces of small food items in order to achieve a high quality, natural looking IQF product—even after defrosting.
The method of IQF freezing involves sending the individual food pieces on a bedplate into a tunnel freezer that will freeze the food items very fast. Since the individual food items are separate when they go in, they stay separate even after they have been frozen. IQF food processors prefer this method of freezing as they get a premium, loose product that is easier to work with instead of a large, frozen lump of product.
FLUIDIZATION FOR A PREMIUM IQF PRODUCT
In order to achieve a well separated frozen product, you need one key element, fluidization. Fluidization is when you make the product act like a fluid inside of the freezer. This happens with the help of an upward airstream. This is what separates the product during the freezing process.
To understand fluidization, the region around the food product is where we should look. Most traditional IQF freezers use a metal mesh belt to transport and fluidize the product but we at OctoFrost use a bedplate instead. There are a number of advantages for doing so. The bedplates are perforated for excellent fluidization and in part what contributes to the optimal aerodynamics of the OctoFrost™ tunnel freezer.
FOR OPTIMAL FLUIDIZATION YOU’LL NEED TO AVOID:
- Dead zones on the bedplates where the product doesn’t move at all
- Excessive turbulence which can damage fragile products or even blow the product away from the product zone
- Too little movement of the product on the bedplates
THERE ARE FOUR MAIN ELEMENTS THAT INFLUENCE FLUIDIZATION:
- The air pressure built up under the bedplate by the fans
- The actual bedplate configuration (thickness, the material used, and the holes)
- The bedplate movement (which can either shake or vibrate)
- The product characteristics (product size, water content, texture etc)
OctoFrost™ IQF tunnel freezer benefits include reliable food safety, natural appearance of the frozen food product, energy efficiency, and a high yield. Each of these benefits is a direct result of the ingenious design features and technology of the OctoFrost™ IQF freezer. The natural appearance of the frozen products is possible due to the gentle fluidization on the OctoFrost bedplates which use asymmetrical movement to gently separate the products and efficiently freeze them.
To learn more about the IQF process, make sure to subscribe to the OctoFrost YouTube channel where we create videos highlighting everything in relation to IQF food processing.