Freezer helps preserve crop freshness
The Center for Innovative Food Technology (CIFT) is exploring new markets for produce through a state-of-the-art freezer.
Regional buyers have expressed their purchasing desires associated with local produce throughout the year. Freezing product is one method by which to address the seasonal limitations of Ohio while including “local” into menus.
Located at the CIFT-managed Northwest Ohio Cooperative Kitchen (NOCK), the unit, along with the development of a blanching/freezing process, was added to allow for testing of the process variations associated with different crops.
Information is provided to growers to assist with crop selection, as well as potential buyers searching for locally-produced products in the off season. Not many existing locations offer both blanching and cryogenic freezing capabilities at the same facility. Crops such as strawberries, green beans, peas and raspberries have already been processed through the freezer.
The cryogenic freezer uses liquid nitrogen as a medium to “flash freeze” products. Temperatures as low as 50 degrees below zero are achieved in a very short time, which prevents large ice crystals from forming and enables nutrients and other desired characteristics to be captured, maximizing freshness and taste.
The service is helpful for growers with excess product at end of season; those wishing to grow more product for new clients and those interested in expanding current crop selection.