IQF Rice Preparation and Packaging

a bowl of rice Rice is one of the most popular items on the worldwide market. With the fast-growing market for ready meals, the demand for rice is expected to grow significantly between 2017 and 2022. Along with the growing market, comes the increasing number of rice varieties available. Wholegrain, wild rice, and black rice are some varieties that have gained popularity due to the growing trend for healthier meals. While the demand for rice and rice varieties is increasing, there is still the challenge of processing rice for freezing which needs to be addressed.

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Blueberries: A True Superfood

a bowl of frozen blueberries

Blueberries are a fast-growing product in high demand. From bakeries to your local supermarket, frozen blueberries have endless potential. They are often eaten fresh, frozen or juiced and also used in a variety of baked goods, jams, jellies and for flavorings. This berry is truly a superfood, containing several vitamins, beneficial plant compounds, and antioxidants. A low-calorie food that is also sweet to the taste, it is not surprising that the demand has increased. However, frozen blueberries present their own challenges. It is overcoming these challenges that create a high-quality product.

Health Benefits of Blueberries

Blueberries may have benefits for heart, brain, and blood sugar health. Studies have found a relationship between berries and improved heart health. They also suggest that blueberries have significant health benefits for people with high blood pressure. This is because blueberries inhibit oxidation of LDL cholesterol, a step in the heart disease process.

A higher intake of flavonoid-rich food is also associated with better brain function. Consuming blueberries can prevent oxidative stress, which plays a role in the aging process. They may also improve brain function directly. One study states drinking blueberry juice every day for 12 weeks improved memory in 9 older adults with early memory decline. Another six-year study found that blueberries and strawberries delayed brain aging by up to 2.5 years in older adults.
People with diabetes are sensitive to rapid changes in blood sugar. They need to be cautious when they eat foods rich in carbohydrates. Blueberries contain moderate amounts of sugar, but do not have adverse effects on blood sugar levels. This is due to their high content of bioactive compounds. In fact, blueberries can have beneficial effects on blood sugar control. One study found that two blueberry smoothies a day for six weeks helped improve insulin sensitivity in obese people who were at a high risk of developing diabetes. They may also affect blood sugar levels directly after a high-carb meal by blocking certain digestive enzymes and reducing blood sugar spikes.

Freezing Blueberries:

When freezing blueberries, the common challenges are with appearance, yield, and dehydration. For appearance, you want to avoid surface cracks and burns that occur due to slow freezing time and/or usage of metal belts. You also need to keep dehydration at a minimum, while keeping yield and profitability high. Washing and destemming are also common practices for blueberries.

After pretreating, the blueberries are ready for freezing. Because of the delicate nature of blueberries, it is imperative to choose the right freezing equipment if you want to preserve the natural appearance after freezing. The optimum result should be well separated, natural looking blueberries. High-quality IQF blueberries can be sold easily at a premium price.


Choose AFE

Achieve high quality with AFE. Together we can choose the best freezer and features that can contribute to a natural appearance, low dehydration, and high yield. While being highly hygienic, our freezers also have adjustable fan speeds for optimal airflow. The result is a gentle, but quick crust freeze with minimal snow formation. Minimal snow means less dehydration of the product, resulting in higher yield and more profit.

High efficiency, easy maintenance, and cleaning make our IQF Freezers the ideal choice. Our equipment is fabricated with stainless steel and expert welding for exceptional sanitation and durability. Each piece far exceeds industry standards for health, cleanliness, and energy savings to give you the best results for your business.

The Science Behind Freezing

The Science Behind Freezing


an overflowing cup of blueberries Freezing is used as a preservation method for almost all foods. From fruits and vegetables to meat and seafood, freezing is a popular way to keep food fresh after harvesting. With an extended shelf life and more nutrients, frozen products are frozen when they have the most minerals and vitamins. However, what exactly happens when food is being frozen?

Chemical Changes

We all know that fruits and vegetables start to deteriorate right when they are harvested. Freezing happens right after harvesting to seal in the taste and texture of the product at its peak degree of ripeness. However, the chemistry behind this is a little more complicated. Fresh produce contains enzymes, which cause the loss of color, loss of nutrients, flavor changes, and color changes. These enzymes have to be inactivated to prevent these reactions.

For vegetables, enzymes are inactivated with blanching. Blanching exposes vegetables to boiling water or steam for a short period of time. Then the vegetable is rapidly cooled in ice water to prevent it from cooking. Blanching also helps destroy microorganisms on the surface of the vegetable and it makes some vegetables, like broccoli, more compact.

With fruit, the enzymes cause brown colors and a loss of vitamin C. Because fruits are normally served raw, they can’t be blanched like vegetables. Instead, these enzymes are controlled with chemical compounds that interfere with the enzymes. Ascorbic acid, vitamin C, is the most popular chemical used and can be used in its pure form or mixed with sugar. Soaking in dilute vinegar and a coating of sugar and lemon juice is another option.

Textural Changes

With fruits and vegetables, the textural changes have to do with water. Water makes up 70-90% of the weight of most fruits and vegetables. It and other substances are stored in the rigid cell walls which support the structure and texture of the product. When you freeze a fruit or vegetable, you are freezing the water contained in the cells. As the water freezes, it expands, and ice crystals cause the cells walls to rupture. This causes the texture to be much softer when it is thawed than when it was raw. This is why some vegetables, like celery and lettuce, are not usually frozen. In order to control the extent of cell wall rupture, you have to freeze the produce as quickly as possible. With rapid freezing, a large number of small ice crystals form compared to slow freezing which forms fewer larger crystals.Because of the soft texture when thawed, most frozen fruits are served when they are not completely thawed. In a partially thawed state, the effects of freezing are less noticeable. It is also less noticeable for products that are cooked before eating because cooking also softens cell walls.

Individual Quick Freezing

Don’t go for the one-size-fits-all approach. Individual Quick Freezing is the ideal choice for high-value produce. Your produce will maintain its natural appearance, texture, and color when frozen in an IQF Tunnel. An IQF Tunnel will not only lock in nutrients but also ensure the highest quality product that can be sold at a premium price. At AFE each piece of equipment is crafted with full dedication to hygiene, quality, and cleanliness. Fully Welded Stainless Steel enclosures will ensure the highest degree of sanitation in the industry and long-term durability.  Cleanliness and hygiene are critical considerations when it comes to food processing and preservation. Our IQF Tunnels can be fabricated using fully welded stainless steel panels or stainless steel clad panels that provide exceptional sanitation and durability. Each piece far exceeds the industry standards for health, cleanliness, and energy savings to give you the best results for your business. For any of your freezing needs, look to AFE for a wide variety of freezer and cooler products.

What Happens After Harvesting

What Happens After Harvesting

a small basket of carrots and onions
We all know that once a vegetable is harvested, it begins to release heat and lose water in a process called respiration. This natural process has an impact on the nutritional qualities of the vegetables we consume. However, the real culprit behind the loss in nutrition is the time between quality control, transportation, handling, and the moment our vegetables reach the shelf. Once they are ready to buy and on our kitchen tables, our products may have already lost half of the original amount of nutrients.

From Tree To Table

Fruits and vegetables are major sources of macronutrients, like fiber, and micronutrients, like Vitamin C. They are often at their most nutritious when they are harvested at peak maturity. However, most people do not have home gardens capable of providing the recommended 5-13 daily servings year round. This is where supermarkets and distribution come into play. Fruits and vegetables grown locally may spend up to 5 days in transit after harvest before arriving at the distribution center to be processed. For fruits and vegetables grown in other countries, this time varies from a few days if transported by air freight to several weeks if sent by refrigerated ship. Once at the store, your food may spend 1-3 days on display before being purchased by the customer, who then may store them up the 7 days before consumption. This amount of time from harvest to consumption can mean significant nutrient degradation.

The Argument For Freezing

Most fruits and vegetables are composed of 70–90% water. Once separated from their tree, plant, or vine, they undergo higher rates of respiration, resulting in moisture loss, quality and nutrient degradation, and potential microbial spoilage. This often depends on the particular nutrient, the commodity, and the postharvest handling, storage, and home cooking conditions. In an attempt to keep food fresh for longer, canning, freezing, pickling, dehydration, fermentation, and other methods of preservation are carried out. Their goal is to deliver processed products that are safe and retain desirable quality attributes similar to fresh products. Freezing is the most simple and natural way of preserving vegetables. In fact, studies show that frozen fruits and vegetables have just as many nutrients as fresh ones. Enzymes in fresh fruits and vegetables cause loss of color, flavor, and nutrients as soon as they are harvested. This reaction can be stopped when food is frozen. Freezing deactivates the enzymes responsible and locks in nutrients inside the vegetables. The fruits and vegetables are able to keep the same amount of nutrients for a longer period of time.

Freezing and Vitamin C

Still not convinced? Take into account Vitamin C. Both water-soluble and sensitive to heat, light, and oxygen, Vitamin C is susceptible to loss during home cooking and thermal processing. This makes perfect as an index of nutrient degradation. When fresh products undergo minimal storage and are handled at proper temperatures, they have high amounts of vitamin C. However, after harvest, this vitamin quickly degrades. This continues during storage as Vitamin c losses in vegetables stored at4°C for 7 days range from 15% for green peas to 77% for green beans. However, if these products were frozen, then their Vitamin C loss would be lower. Influenced by the particular commodity along with the blanching and freezing conditions, frozen fruit and vegetables were found to have little nutrient change if storage temperature was well maintained.

IQF Freezing

The most popular freezing method for vegetables worldwide is the IQF freezing method. With the growing demand for frozen foods, consumers have become more particular about the quality of the frozen food they buy. They not only want the frozen items to retain all their nutrients, but they also want the natural appearance, taste, texture, color, and shape of the products to be preserved as well. The way you treat your products is critical to the quality and safety of each finished product. Choosing the right industrial refrigeration equipment streamlines your process for higher quality, healthier products.Processing and preserving vegetables properly is essential to creating delicious, fresh, and safe products for your customers. From spinach processing to vegetable product freezing, you can look to AFE for a wide variety of freezer and cooler products to meet your specific commercial cooling needs. As for fruit and products created with fruit, they can be very delicate. Without proper processing, these products spoil rapidly or can become contaminated. Look to us for a wide variety of exceptional quality equipment to keep your fruit and fruit products cool during processing, or frozen after creation. From space-saving design to site-built equipment for higher product needs, we can help you find the equipment that is right for your needs.

The Advantages of Frozen Food

a closeup of frozen peas
Now more than ever, consumers are willing to pay a premium price for organic, healthy food products. Not wanting pesticides or synthetic fertilizers in their food, organic food lovers are looking towards fresh products. However, consumers are realizing that frozen products are as good as fresh ones. With the frozen food industry expected to reach 363.9 billion by 2024, the frozen food industry is growing rapidly. However, consumers still prefer to use fresh ingredients over frozen. They are unaware that frozen food comes with a number of advantages. With an extended shelf life and more nutrients, frozen products are frozen when they have the most minerals and vitamins. Read on to understand why freezing is better.

Nutrition and Waste

The problem with fresh vs frozen food comes from a lack of awareness towards food waste and eating. In terms of nutritional content, freezing doesn’t damage food. Rather it preserves vitamins and minerals. Fresh fruits and vegetables, when harvested, continue to undergo chemical changes which can cause spoilage and deterioration of the product. For fresh vegetables, within three days of being pulled out of the ground, 80% of vitamin C is naturally lost from them. They also have a useful nutritional lifespan of up to five days. A quarter of all food intended for consumption is lost in the distribution chain. This waste can be avoided by improving our buying, storing and cooking habits. Studies show that consumers create less waste from using frozen fruits, berries, and vegetables.

Organic and frozen

It is easy to see why fresh products may seem to be the better choice. Produce bought from the supermarket greengrocer section is full of color and crunch. In fact, many stores use fine mist sprays to give the “just picked” look. Supermarkets are convincing shoppers to pay a premium for food they believe is tops for health and taste. However, with no synthetic modifiers, frozen food maintains its nutrients and natural flavor. Frozen food products do not require any additives in order to preserve the food. The main way to ensure long-lasting organic products is by freezing them. Growing populations and urbanization are factors that require more food resources. But there is also a big challenge in reducing waste and the growing trend for fast, convenient meals. With frozen products, healthy, flavorful, quality meals are easy ways to get a fast, organic meals without sacrificing health.

Freezing Technology

There’s no arguing it — frozen fruits and vegetables are convenient. Being pre-washed, and sometimes pre-chopped, they even come in little bags or boxed that wait in your freezer for use. On top of that, they are also often cheaper than their fresher counterparts, savings that increases when you throw out two-day old fresh broccoli that has started to brown before you could use it. The main question is “How do you convince people to consume more frozen food?” There is still a bit of guilt associated with buying frozen It is not enough to list all the benefits of frozen produce. The only way is to offer premium quality frozen food that has a natural appearance and better convenience than fresh ones. Choosing the right industrial refrigeration equipment streamlines your process for higher quality, healthier products. At AFE, we offer hygienic design standards that routinely outperform our competitors. We know different food products require different freezing methods.The type of cooling and freezing equipment that is right for you depends on the type of products your business produces. With over 150 years of combined experience, our knowledgeable team is prepared to help you understand the various options available to you so you can equip your business effectively.

AFE and Farm Frites: A Higher Hygiene Ranking

frozen fries on a conveyor belt

The European processing industries investment in their deep-freeze capacity and strict legislation around the use of the refrigerants means there is more of a demand for frozen fries than ever. There is also a call for increasing standards regarding continuity, capacity, hygiene, and natural energy use. Last year Farm Frites invested millions of euros in a new  IQF Freezer. What freezer did they choose? AFE with their state-of-the-art line of the freezers with the highest hygiene ranking in the industry.

Why is AFE the number one choice for freezers?

Continuity:

This is probably one of the most important features of a modern IQF Freezer because the profit is in the availability of the machine. Every second that the production line at Farm Frites is not operating costs them about 1.5 euros. After eight hours, that amount equates to 43,500 euros lost. With an IQF Freezer from AFE, production only stops to do the necessary cleaning between lots. The machine operates for multiple weeks around the clock without stoppage and is perfectly capable of running many more weeks if other surrounding conditions allowed such.

Electricity Saving:

With modern evaporators, Farm Frites is saving a lot of energy. While many suppliers use a cooling agent of -32°C, AFE uses evaporators at -25°C. Every degree lower in the evaporator requires 3% more energy, meaning AFE freezers can save 21% on energy. With electric prices at 6 euro cents per KWh, Farm Frites can save 160,000 euros in one year. Additionally, the 39 centrifugal fans in each IQF Freezer can be operated with frequency regulators, thus being able to operate with lower energy usage. With the reserved capability to process 40 metric tons per hour, these savings will substantially increase.

Ready-Made Modules:

AFE provides IQF Freezers as ready-made modules.This means AFE only needs to weld the large modules together at the factory site minimizing significant installation time and resources in the field. However, these giant freezers require some organization to transport to the facility. With an inland craft, the enormous modules can be delivered to the nearest port to curtail road transport.

Hygenic Demands:

Fully welded enclosures with raised self-supporting fully welded floor systems slopped to integral drains focused on the elimination of nuts/bots and ‘sandwiched pieces” help to ensure optimal hygienic conditions. Cleaners can reach every spot of the freezer. Plus, with the addition of LED lights, the freezer can also be inspected everywhere.  AFE’s Cleaning in Place system automates the cleaning process making cleaning easier and faster. The evaporators are cleaned with spray pipes while the tunnel is cleaned with special spray balls with nozzles installed in the IQF Freezer and under the conveyor belt. After spraying, the entire space is heated to 78°C in order to pasteurize the inside.

[button href=”https://www.afellc.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Potato-World.pdf” style=”flat” size=”large” color=”#0f2b8e” hovercolor=”#1e73be” textcolor=”#ffffff” texthovercolor=”#ffffff”]Check Out AFE’s Article In Potato World[/button]

AFE provides the most hygienic and efficient Individual Quick Freezing (IQF) freezing and cooling machines for ALL food products. Our goal is to provide the most hygienic, energy efficient and reliable equipment available in the world.

Don’t Lose Nutrients or Value! Choose AFE to Freeze Your Broccoli!

a piece of broccoli

Vegetables are big members of the frozen food industry, but not every freezer will freeze produce while keeping freshness. Processing and preserving vegetables properly is essential to creating delicious, fresh, and safe products for your customers.

Broccoli: The Queen of the Frozen Vegetables

Broccoli is the queen of the frozen vegetable industry. Found in restaurants and on dinner tables around the world, you want your broccoli to keep its freshness from the time it’s picked to when it arrives on the table. The moment broccoli is harvested, the respiration process begins. This means that the broccoli will start to lose water and release heat. Additionally, it starts to lose vital nutrients. The moments from transportation, to quality control, to handling, to the supermarket, to your home, your broccoli will likely lose more than half of its minerals and vitamins.

Individual Quick Freezing

Don’t go for the one-size-fits all approach. Individual Quick Freezing is the ideal choice for high-value produce. In order to ensure the moisture, shape and freshness of small food items, AFE utilizes mechanical IQF Tunnels utilizing Ammonia or Freon. Your normally fragile broccoli will maintain its natural appearance, texture and color when frozen in an IQF Tunnel. An IQF Tunnel will not only lock in nutrients, but also ensure the highest quality broccoli that can be sold for a premium price. AFE IQF Tunnels can be fabricated using fully welded stainless steel panels or stainless steel clad panels that provide exceptional sanitation and durability. Each piece far exceeds the industry standards for health, cleanliness, and energy savings to give you the best results for your business.  For any vegetable processing, look to AFE for a wide variety of freezer and cooler products.

We service the industrial sector by providing cooling and freezing equipment for food processing facilities. Our goal is to provide the most hygienic, energy efficient and reliable equipment available in the world.

AFE Approach

AFE Approach

Since 1990, AFE has been providing a full array of exceptional refrigeration, cooling, freezing and processing equipment. Whether you need refrigeration, meat processing, produce processing, or other equipment, let AFE help you find all the equipment you need to help your business thrive. With customer collaboration, we will provide a proposal specific to the processing of your product with a machine integrated into the constraints of your specific requirements. Your unit will be fabricated in the Netherlands, completely assembled in the workshop and transported to your site. Because our units are pre assembled in the workshop, installation time is very short.

C.S.A., U.S.D.A., and O.S.H.A. standards are strictly followed when designing and building all of our refrigeration equipment. Our equipment has a very hygienic design consisting of a fully welded enclosure (10 year warranty), belt support, side guiding, sloped floor and led lights. We also have in-house testing of food products to confirm our freezing or cooling machinery results.

Advantages Through Preparation

Ready for Transport

Disassembling To Transportable Modules

Lifting of Modules into Plant on Site

Efficient Delivery Logistics

When it comes to getting the most dependable performance from your food processing equipment, the quality of the equipment is only one part of your needs. Put your confidence in the AFE approach. We will be there for you to provide the guidance, answers, and recommendations you need to find the ideal equipment for your business. Give us a call for a FREE estimate and to learn more about the equipment we have to offer. AFE also has an office in Europe to better serve the European region.

Exemplary Crafting

Exemplary Crafting

Here at AFE, our equipment is designed and built to the highest sanitation and energy standards within the industry. Each piece is crafted from high quality stainless steel with expert welding for durability. Field proven since 1990, our continuous-seam-welding provides an industry-leading 10-year warranty. Continuous-seam-welding seals each freezer, thus preventing bacterial growth and providing greater cleanability. Not only can AFE build your enclosure to the highest standards in the industry, but our experienced and efficient technicians can also efficiently rebuild, improve, modify or fix most any manufactures cooling or freezing machines.

Enclosure Integrity

  • Seamless Welded inside and out Stainless Steel Construction
  • Inside finish, outside polish.
  • Strong structural panels with internal fire barriers
  • High density insulated foam, continuous welded & bead blasted seams, heavy gauge stainless sheeting inside & out, integrated supporting structure and techniques to avoid thermal transfer.
  • Field proven for many years (Since 1990).

 Have confidence in the quality, safety, and durability of your food processing equipment with us. Give us a call for a FREE estimate and to learn more about the equipment we have to offer.

AFE: The Hottest Thing in Keeping Cool!

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AFE: The Hottest Thing in Keeping Cool!

It seems that so many manufacturers seem to treat industrial freezers like a one size fits all product. When it comes to commercial food processing, flash-freezing and storage, you need a freezer that fits you unique needs and space. Your freezer needs to be energy efficient, cost effective, hygienic and easy to clean. AFE listens to your wants and needs when they design, engineer and manufacture a perfect freezer just for you. 

Customized Machinery

At AFE we specialize and focus on cooling and freezing machinery. Our equipment is designed and built to the highest sanitation and energy standards within the industry.  Utilizing the latest in technology and design, our engineers work with you, taking into account your requirements to the space you are working in. This means that a top-of-the-line piece of equipment will be designed and built just for you. It is important that we work in a constructive collaboration with our clients. We try our best to achieve the best solution for production goals while ensuring the utmost quality.

Experience

AFE has been designing and building custom freezers for over 20 years, providing every customer with the best equipment and the best service. Since 1990, AFE has installed over 400 freezers in North America, South America, Europe, Asia and Africa. Our key employees have over 150 years combined experience.

The Latest Technology

We use the latest in technology and design methods, using 3D modeling, laser cutting, robotic welding and automatic bending equipment. The results are custom machines that are build quickly and efficiently with non-proprietary parts for easy maintenance and repair. Most importantly, our continuous seam welding method seals each freezer to prevent bacterial growth and provide greater clean ability. Each freezer has an industry-leading 10-year warranty. At our primary fabrication facility, (VDL systems in Uden, Netherlands) is specifically focused on design and fabrication of stainless steel food processing equipment. We have a high level of engineering staff focusing on mechanical design, 3D modeling, and high efficient fabrication methods, techniques and processes. The lean structure of AFE and VDL produces leading designs at competitive levels.

So, if you are looking for the most innovative and sophisticated freezers custom designed by the best in the business, and guaranteed to stay clean, look no further than AFE! The hottest thing in keeping cool!

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