Shock freezing of seafood

How do brine freezing and cryogenic freezing work?

The way in which fish and seafood are frozen has a significant influence on the quality, texture and taste of the products. Innovative freezing methods such as brine freezing or cryogenic freezing guarantee the best quality and taste, as if freshly caught from the sea. Here you can find out how these methods are practiced, what advantages shock-frozen products have and how they improve your seafood enjoyment.

What is brine freezing?

Brine freezing is a contact freezing process and refers to freezing using salt water or a salt solution. If water contains salt, e.g. sodium chloride or other salts are added and saturated, the freezing point is below the freezing point of pure water, namely -22°C. This means that salty water only freezes at lower temperatures. This means that salty water only freezes at lower temperatures and can therefore act as ‘liquid ice’ as a better contact refrigerant, as the food is completely enclosed.

This technology is often used in the advanced food industry. When freezing food, a salt solution is often used in which the products are immersed in order to achieve faster and more even freezing.

The general rule for freezing techniques is: the faster the freezing, the smaller the ice crystals and the better the quality of the seafoodLarge ice crystals can break through the cell walls and affect the texture and flavour of the seafood. The preservation of the cell structure by small ice crystals means that the fish has a better texture and a fresher flavour after defrosting. This is referred to as sensory freshness.

Brine-freezing of the Bavarian shrimp

What is cryogenic freezing?

Cryogenic freezing is a state-of-the-art but very costly technique for preserving food based on extremely low temperatures. In this process, the food is quickly brought to temperatures well below freezing, often by using liquid nitrogen or other cryogens. Typically, temperatures of around -80°C to -196°C are reached. The freezing time can vary depending on the food and application, but is often only a few minutes.

The advantages of shock freezing at a glance

  1. Faster freezing: Shock freezing allows extremely low temperatures that cause seafood to freeze much faster and more efficiently than traditional methods, increasing quality and freshness.
  2. Sensory freshness: The extremely low temperatures used during shock freezing preserve the sensory freshness of the seafood, including colour, texture and flavour.
  3. Maximum quality: Rapid freezing at ultra-low temperatures prevents the formation of large ice crystals, which keeps the cell structure of the seafood intact and preserves its quality.
  4. Preservation of vitamins and nutrients: The rapid freezing process during shock freezing minimizes the degradation of vitamins and nutrients in the seafood, resulting in a more nutritionally valuable product.
  5. Prevent freezer burn: The extremely low temperatures and rapid freezing reduce the risk of freezer burn by minimizing the formation of ice crystals on the surface of the seafood.
  6. Extended shelf life: The combination of rapid freezing and minimizing quality losses keeps seafood fresh and shelf-stable for longer, improving storage and availability.

FAQs about shock freezing

How does shock freezing differ from conventional freezing?

In contrast to slow freezing in a freezer, shock freezing occurs much faster and at lower temperatures, which preserves quality better.

Are there any disadvantages to shock freezing?

Shock freezing itself has no disadvantages as long as the products are stored correctly afterwards. However, the equipment for this process is expensive to purchase.

Is flash-frozen seafood more expensive than normally frozen goods?

Yes, due to the more complex process and better quality, flash-frozen seafood is usually a bit more expensive than conventional frozen products.