IQF cheese has steadily risen in popularity due to its ease of use and convenience. As a result, there is tangible demand for high-quality, well-produced IQF cheese products out there. You can satisfy this demand. Here’s how:
One of the key traits of cheese is its taste. With an incredible variety of cheeses out there, you must ensure your freezing method can preserve them, all the while preserving their unique taste perfectly. That’s how IQF, meaning individual quick-freezing has been increasing in popularity, as one of the best ways of maintaining the required level of quality.
Creating high-quality frozen cheese using the IQF method will have the following benefits:
- No or minimal changes to the texture. Soft, mushy, or hard – IQF will preserve the texture, without creating a hard exterior, as some other types of freezing are prone to.
- Bite-sized works best – both for sales, as well as for freezing. Soft cheeses that are known for their excellent taste can now be frozen in cubes or shredded while preserving that premium texture.
- Firm quality – sturdier cheeses like gouda and Swiss can be frozen with minimal loss of quality, according to the National Dairy Council. Expect the same texture and flavor before and after freezing for this type of cheese.
How to achieve optimal processing?
At the center of this question lies the freezing technology used. If IQF is the approach taken towards achieving excellent frozen dairy, then the IQF cheese processing machine is your way of tangibly making it a reality.
With so many IQF Freezers to choose from, the high investment cost, and niche processing goal, how can you choose the freezer perfect for your goals? Here are a few guiding factors that we’ve identified that will help you pick out the best solution for your IQF cheese processing.
Preserving natural color
One of the main factors that decide the quality of your IQF product is its ability to resemble its pre-frozen form. First, the cheese should preserve its original color. In nature, food changing in color to be different from what we would typically associate it with tends to be a bad sign, and customers will take that knowledge with them.
To ensure that your frozen product is appreciated, choose equipment that can preserve the natural color of the cheese. When processing cheese specifically, optimal airflow and pressure are key elements in preventing browning or other types of color alterations to the product.
The second visual aspect you must take into consideration is separation. IQF provides excellent food separation as part of its freezing approach. If the frozen cheese product has clumps or the pieces are hard to separate from one another, this signifies two things:
- The freezing process isn’t working as well as it should, which makes it ill-suited for IQF freezing.
- The quality of the frozen product lowers, as product separation is one of the reasons your customers will especially enjoy IQF cheese.
Make sure your chosen freezing equipment provides quick crust freezing, as it is one of the most reliable methods of maintaining the product’s appearance while minimizing dehydration.
While impossible to completely prevent, no matter how you approach it, there are ways to lessen product dehydration during IQF Freezing. Dehydration leads to product weight loss and worse quality, which is bad for your bottom line. How can you avoid it? There are a couple of ways of going about it:
- A shorter freezing time – the less time is needed to freeze the product, the better. Compare IQF’s ~ 5-minute freezing time, to an equivalent 48 hours using cold storage, and you can notice the difference in terms of dehydration.
- Better aerodynamics – with minimal disruption to the flow of air and improved airspeed you can avoid dehydration from strongly impacting your product.
- Minimizing ambient moisture – reducing dehydration is also a matter of avoiding precipitation and sublimation.
- Monitor snow formation – once you’ve identified an excessive level of snow formation, your next approach is to reduce it by adjusting freezing parameters. That can be done though adjusting air velocity, pressure, and relative humidity. That way, less snow is formed, and dehydration stays manageable.
The best processing of IQF cheese also needs operational ways of saving costs, in parallel to introducing ways of enhancing product quality. Here, three factors are crucial in ensuring that your equipment for processing cheese is as effective as possible.
- Energy efficiency – by decreasing fan speed automatically, installing frequency converters, and introducing heat-transfer systems outside of the freezer, it’s possible to create a more comprehensive and efficient freezing. This allows defrosting to happen at less frequent intervals.
- Fast freezing – quick crust-freezing and effective fluidization can both speed up processing and provide a more visually appealing frozen product.
- Food safety – introducing food safety elements into your freezing line will increase the overall quality and quantity of the output, done right. Taking the example of Octofrost’s innovations further, such as the patented bedplate technology will put you well ahead of industry food safety regulations. They will also improve your freezing process efficiency, by creating fewer moments where production needs to be halted. Thanks to the Cleaning-in-place (CIP) system, no human intervention is needed inside the freezer, adding to food safety.
Optimizing your processing of IQF cheese involves selecting the right equipment and freezing methods for your business. They can provide a product of excellent quality, while also minimizing associated costs.