We’ve covered a few of the obvious differences between coolrooms and freezers. The two labels actually clue us in to those surface features, but now it’s time to get down to details. It’s no longer enough to point at one and think ‘cool,’ then gesture at the opposing model while thinking ‘freeze.’ So, without further ado, let’s tag these two cold storage forms with some hard numbers. A coolroom floats ambient temperatures above freezing point, sending the mercury level of the storage thermostat down to between +2°C and +4°C. We’d define this storage space as cool or cold and use it as an appropriate area to hold food, thus extending the life and freshness of perishable meat and produce.
It’s common practice to place storage units within coolrooms. Stacks of Tupperware containing sauces and soups are often seen here as kitchen staff stroll down the narrow aisles. Alternatively, pharmaceutical research labs assign this same area to the storage of sensitive chemical compounds because this below room temperature but above freezing point zone is seen by laboratories as an ideal environment for fluid storage.
The +2°C to +4°C scenario fits all forms of organic material, which includes food, organic chemical compounds, and even suits the floral industry, but what about scenarios that require more dramatic cooling? Freezers adopt a subzero chilling factor, therefore requiring a plummeting freezing range that seldom deviates above the -18°C to -24°C sweet spot. Water ceases being a fluid at this frosty temperature range and transforms into ice crystals. Due to this transformative phenomenon, it’s critical that the manager of the freezer knows how different commodities will react at this temperature point. For example, the soft tissues of certain delicate fruits will rupture when water crystals form.
Hooks and rods of stored raw meat are frozen for several months at a time in a freezer, with the cellular structure of organic matter slowing to an invisible crawl as ice forms. As such, the auxiliary structure of a freezer tends to be more complex than the coolroom equivalent. Defrosting cycles are incorporated within the freezer. Other extra features could include drip alarms and drainage systems to address the issue of ice buildup. In fact, this environment can be seen in action by opening an ordinary domestic refrigerator and seeing how ice builds on the freezing section. One final note, one that doesn’t align with our refrigerator example, is that both of these rooms require substantial wall insulation, but the freezer, obviously, will require that much more insulation to ensure subzero temperatures are maintained.
C&M Coolroom Services has a responsibility to manufacture high-end coolrooms and freezers. These walk-in rooms and cupboard-sized spaces are expertly sealed and professionally fabricated to adhere to hygiene standards while fulfilling their principle role. In the case of an efficient freezer, these design factors keep temperatures low, maintaining a climate that would be drawn as a flat line if a record of internal climate changes was to be monitored. Such design examples are patently desirable if the multiplication of bacteria is to be outright annulled. All of the above factors are part of the design specifications of the unit, which is why the strategy can fail after the unit is installed and far from the domain of the manufacturer.
In keeping the freezer fully-functional and deserving of its purpose, store only the products that are intended to fall under the scope of freezer climate-control, a temperature range that typically begins at -20C. Here’s an easy-to-read list of products that are safe to be kept in a freezer.
• Bread (Less chance of drying out and going stale when frozen)
• Fruit and vegetables
While brief, this list represents a core selection of products that are safe for freezer storage. Of course, the work doesn’t end here. Each category of food has an associated storage time that must be kept in mind. A catering company would keep track of this culinary calendar to ensure the food doesn’t begin to spoil, and the kitchen manager is going to have to reinforce this line of thought by keeping a schedule of how each product will spoil over this period of time. A wall-mounted poster containing a table of these products and their storage times is the time-honoured means of keeping track of stored frozen food.
Additionally, preparation routines are initiated within working kitchens to minimize aging effect and the possible development of sub-microscopic organisms. This includes the blanching of vegetables and the following of guidelines as set by the relevant food authority. Systematic storage routines are essential in this situation. These procedures will safeguard hygiene and protect the consumer. For instance, use a freezer cycle that freezes meat, fruit and vegetables quickly, thus reducing the possibility of ice crystal formation. Any cryogenics engineer knows the danger of these tiny crystals and how their introduction will effect the delicate texture of organic produce.
Finally, the fun and obvious products are kept in freezers, the ice cream and desserts that are sold in bulk and kept frozen for months at a time. But keep organization in mind, delicate produce away from the fan unit, and assign meat to low shelves or hooks, keeping space between each grouping to maximize the circulation of that frosty atmosphere.
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