When it comes to popularity, the IQF frozen peas have made substantial progress over the past couple of years, which can be seen in the frozen food section in the supermarkets all over the world. People are realizing that frozen peas can be just as tasty and nutritious as fresh peas.
The timeframe in which fresh quality peas are available is usually quite limited according to Yuqiao Xiehultin, marketing assistant for OctoFrost: “Food producers need to sell their fresh peas fairly quick, as they might get spoiled and leave the producers with a net loss. The natural appearance of fresh peas can easily be lost, as can their crunchy texture and overall quality if you transport them over a great distance or store them for long periods of time.”
Although IQF peas might be considered as one of the easier products to freeze, obtaining premium quality IQF peas can be somewhat challenging. “To achieve the best quality of IQF frozen peas, one must optimize and adjust with care each step (blanching, chilling and freezing) along the process.” Xiehultin explains.
“A vital part of the process is blanching. This is required to deactivate the enzymatic activity in vegetables which speeds up their spoilage. Short blanching for peas is crucial to intervene with this process. It’s easy to over-blanch peas, but thanks to our OctoFrost™ IF Blancher the chance of over-blanching can be completely avoided,” Xiehultin says. “By using our IF Blancher, processors have complete control of the temperature and time when blanching. What’s more, the blanching time can be flexible, designated to the precise amount of blanching minutes that is preferred by the processors.”
Another improvement in the equipment is its lower energy requirement, says Xiehultin: “With the IF blancher, the core temperature of peas can be achieved in a shorter amount of time. This means less energy is required for the process. Quicker blanching in the OctoFrost IF Blancher is possible thanks to a combination of the cross-flow water system, the rain-shower system and the high-volume recirculated water that goes through the product layer. As an even temperature in every zone of the IF blancher can be reached, the peas’ nutrition protein and vitamins are preserved. An additional temperature zone is also something peas processors can opt for, to avoid over-blanching. This will make sure the peas’ original texture is retained, while preventing any skin loss of the peas.”
The second step in the process is the chilling of the produce. “The OctoFrost™ IF Chiller has ice-cold water running through its rain-shower system, which always stays under 6°C. This avoids any bacteria growth and ensures food safety,” says Xiehultin. “The quick chilling allows the product’s core temperature to drop below 5°C, resulting in the preservation of the peas’ moisture level and flavor. When a product is effectively chilled like this, it leads to a better freezing result in the IQF freezing stage.”
“For the final step in the IQF freezing process it is important that the product dehydration is minimized. The unique and optimal aerodynamics of the OctoFrost™ IQF freezer ensures that and keeps the snow forming in the freezer under 0.5%. This is achieved thanks to the quick crust-freezing in the very first part of our IQF tunnel which locks in the moisture of the product. If dehydration is forced to a minimum, it results in higher yield without increasing the resources on raw material, power consumption or manpower. Additionally, the frozen peas will retain their natural appearance, texture, color and shape. This means these IQF frozen peas can be sold at a premium price, gaining revenue for peas producers.” Xiehultin explains.
“All the equipment needed for processing premium IQF peas are provided by OctoFrost. The Blancher, Chiller and IQF Freezer equipment are built with high regards to food-safety, as standards in food safety have been increased on a global scale. Peas processors can not only produce high-quality, food-safe final products, but their profits can also rise by obtaining lower energy consumption and lowering manpower requirements.” Xiehultin concludes.