• Freeze-chilling of ready-to-eat meal components

      Redmond, Grainne; Gormley, Ronan T.; Butler, Francis; Dempsey, Alan; Oxley, Eamon; Gerety, Ailis (Teagasc, 2004-03)
      Freeze-chilling of food consists of freezing and frozen storage followed by thawing and then retailing at chill storage temperatures. It offers logistic, transportation and storage advantages to food manufacturers. Freeze-chilling has particular application to ready-meals and their components. Mashed potato (three cultivars), steamed carrots, steamed green beans and beef lasagne were found suitable for freeze-chilling and their quality and sensory properties compared favourably with their frozen, chilled and fresh counterparts. Modified atmosphere packaging was combined with freeze-chilling but it had little impact on shelflife extension for the product range with the outcome similar to that for samples packed in air. Tests on the freeze-chilling of white sauces showed the importance of using freeze-thaw stable starches. Best-practice thawing procedures were established and the importance of stacking configurations for outer boxes (each with a number of lasagne ready-meals) was highlighted in the case of the commercial tempering unit. Trials on the re-freezing of freeze-chilled products indicated that re-freezing is an option provided the normal storage protocols for frozen and chilled foods are observed.