When one thinks of food establishments using frozen food, it is easy to think of fast food restaurants where most items are delivered frozen in their kitchen.
With that same thinking, most people find it hard to imagine that even first-class restaurants may still need to use frozen food from time to time. After all, most restaurants focus their attention on serving only fresh food products.
Nevertheless, why do restaurants use frozen food?
For whatever reason, an establishment must resort to this method; frozen food primarily helps cut food costs. And the supporting reason for it is that it minimises the waste of food prone to quick spoilage.
If resorting to using frozen food is a possibility in your commercial kitchen, here are some essential things to know:
Freezing food doesn’t kill bacteria.
Temperature plays a critical role in altering the stability of any product. It is a well-known fact that freezing or even chilling food slows up the spoilage of any food. Unfortunately, most people think this is a permanent process that will keep food edible as long as in a frozen state. Food still spoils, albeit gradually: The low temperature of food:
- slows the activity of existing microorganisms in their pre-frozen state
- slows the food’s enzymes to change and deteriorate chemically.
Highly perishable foods like fish are easily affected by ambient temperature. Depending on a restaurant’s location, the availability of fresh fish may be limited. You can read more about how to prevent fish from spoiling fast in this post.
Frozen food can be indefinitely stored if they have been stored continuously at 0 °F or -17°C
Does this mean you can keep frozen food for a long time, and it will still be safe to consume?
According to FoodSafety.gov., yes, you can. But only if food has been stored continuously at 0 °F or -17°C. But because purchasing and delivering frozen items to the restaurant kitchen involves time out of the freezer, it is best to observe the food’s shelf life. Shelf life is the length of time when food items can be consumed, used and sold. This is important to ensure you use the food item at optimal age.
The shelf life of some frozen foods is mentioned below:
- Vegetables – 3 to 4 months
- Fruits – 4 to 5 months
- Fish – about 4 months
- Meat – 4 to 6 months
- Ready Made food – 3 to 4 months
- Dairy products – 2 to 3 months
The refreezing issue
The practice of refreezing a previously thawed-out item is dangerous – unless thawing has been done the right way. Frozen foods thawed in the fridge can be returned to the freezer.
It is the unsafe practice of thawing the food on a counter that cannot be returned to the freezer. When food is unsafe, it is between temperatures 5°C and 60°C (considered a danger zone).
At this temperature, bacteria proliferate and can make people sick from the bacteria that live and multiply on raw meats, such as E. coli and salmonella. Consider throwing it out entirely.
However, it is essential to know that refreezing can sometimes affect the flavour and texture.
RELATED READ: Safe Thawing Tips From Pro Chefs That You Should Know
Frozen fruits and vegetables can sometimes be a better choice than fresh ones.
It is interesting to know that sometimes, frozen fruit and veggies can be more nutritious than fresh varieties.
Think about it. Fresh food is typically picked BEFORE the fruit or vegetable is ripe. This procedure ensures that they are in the proper ripened condition after they undergo packaging, shipping and stocking on shelves. This could mean weeks before they are purchased or used in a kitchen. By then, the food has already lost nutrients. Whereas with frozen food, they are harvested at their pick ripeness and are flash frozen within hours.
According to a 2013 study from the University of Georgia, fresh and frozen food are nutritionally the same on the date of purchase. Yet, after five days in the fridge, the fresh food had less Vitamin A, C, and Folate than the frozen food.
You can freeze eggs.
In my previous post, I wrote that eggs are not ideal for freezing. The egg shells will likely burst during thawing. If the shell is the problem, remove it from the equation. Crack and beat the eggs or separate the white from the yolk if you need one of the other on dishes. And then, you freeze them. But do note that egg yolks don’t freeze well as the texture gets compromised and doesn’t return to normal.
Frozen food can be cheaper.
Earlier, I mentioned that frozen food is a way to cut costs. Depending on the season, some vegetables and fruits are likely cheaper pounds for pounds than fresh.
In reality, it can be unavoidable, and at some point in time, most, if not all, restaurants may have needed to use frozen food products to fill an immediate demand in the kitchen or to save them for future use.
Your Chef and kitchen staff must uphold the proper handling of frozen food items to avoid any health concerns arising from eating them.
And if you are looking for skilled chefs and kitchen staff based in Perth and Western Australia for your staffing needs, give us a call at Anytime Staff.
We have a roster of professional chefs and kitchen staff that are available as short-term hires for :
- peak periods
- events/private parties and celebrations/pizza chefs
- fill in for an emergency or annual leaves
- start-up team for opening venues
As part of our team, we have polite, professional Kitchen Stewards to assist you in cleaning and organising your kitchens.
Anytime Staff can also assist you in looking for permanent hires by facilitating your recruitment process.
We also offer a Consulting Service to assist you in opening or running the cafe or restaurant of your dreams.
That’s it for this week.
As always, professional chefs are on call at Anytime Chefs!
Ciao for now,