Fast refrigeration and freezing are the two fundamental technologies on which are based blast chillers that, starting from the professional world, are gradually conquering also the domestic ambit.
If we want to extend the life of foods, either raw or cooked, as long as possible, preserving their original characteristics and without altering their taste, aroma and nutritional values, the best method is cooling and freezing foods quickly using a very technological and performing appliance such as the blast chiller.
A technology conceived and diffused in the professional kitchens of restaurants and of commercial activities more in general, like ice cream makers or patisseries but that, thanks to the endless potentialities, is spreading also in dwellings due to increasingly compact and smart models.
The blast chiller is essentially used to cool hot, or even boiling, foods quickly; once lowered the temperature, the food is ready to be preserved in the refrigerator or in the freezer. This treatment allows extending the average life of food because the cold has the capacity of contrasting the growth of bacteria; bacteria, in fact, multiply faster at a temperature included between +8 °C and + 68 °C.
Generally, however, blast chillers also allow “freezing” a product, both in case of raw material and when the food has been cooked. The fast freezing performed by the blast chiller allows respecting the organoleptic qualities of food.
An extraordinary machine
Therefore, we can also say the blast chiller is a freezer that, anyway, exploiting forced air at -40 °C, rapidly cools the food, lowering its temperature from about 90°C of cooking to 3°C, also at the core, in around 90 minutes, while it freezes at -18°C more or less in 4 hours, avoiding the formation of ice crystals that alter the consistency and the taste of food, breaking its cellules.
The advantages that derive from the use of this machine are extraordinary indeed, starting just from the main function, the perfect conservation: cooling rapidly, immediately after the cooking, inhibits the evaporation, thus reducing the loss of water and preventing the dehydration of aliments.
Another important benefit is undoubtedly the consistent saving of time – and of money -, feature that has decreed its success first in the professional sector and then in domestic ambit. The foods “chilled” and conserved at the right temperature have on average a much longer life cycle; it is then possible to prepare in advance bigger quantities of dishes or semi-finished foods, anyway preserving their excellent quality.
Technology from the professional world
Nowadays the blast chiller is an indispensable instrument and it has radically changed the way of working in the kitchen, sharing in partly modifying the programming and the methodology of the food preparation.
Today this appliance plays a role of primary importance in the professional catering sector. Precisely for this reason, we have asked some manufacturing companies to illustrate us the advantages offered by its use and to explain us, from the technological point of view, what are the main novelties that concern the design of these machines.
According to Massimo Caudillo, sales manager in Coldline, Italian company specialized in the implementation of professional refrigerating appliances, “The blast chiller is an appliance that has changed the way of working of those professionals who have understood its potentialities. The use of the immediate cold after cooking or for the conservation of raw materials and of semi-finished products allows organizing the work, extending the food life, optimizing costs and the personnel’s management.
Our blast chiller Vision replaces more traditional appliances, integrating in a small space the functions of chilling, freezing, leavening, unfreezing, conservation and crystallization of chocolate. A further technological innovation consisted in offering the total control of temperature, ventilation and wetness percentage to chefs and pastry chefs. Our machine can work 24 hours a day: during the day, it chills, freezes, unfreezes and crystallizes the chocolate while at night it leavens with delicacy bread and croissants, making them ready for the following morning. A really relevant economic advantage”.
Air-o-chill is instead the professional blast chiller devised by Electrolux, leader company in the household appliance sector, “Air-o-chill allows treating all pastry products or ice creams in delicate modality, with particular focus on the final quality. An appliance that gives the opportunity of blast chilling the food, in a determinate time, to prepare and to serve it afterwards, permitting a better programming of the work and improved service. Besides, thanks to a broad choice of chilling cycles, Air-o-chill® permits to organize the workflow at best in the laboratory, saving time and especially money”.
According to Irinox, the designed blast chiller combines cold functions (refrigeration, freezing, unfreezing and chocolate) with hot functions (low temperature cooking, regeneration, pasteurizing, leavening and maintenance) in a single appliance: “The operation principle of a blast chiller consists in the extraction of warmth from foods, which must be as fast as possible. The unrivalled performances are the result of the perfect balancing of the main refrigerating components: the Irinox Balance System – condenser, evaporator, compressor and fans – designed and implemented by Irinox to extract hot from foods as quick as possible, even from boiling products. The care of the technical-manufacturing details is part of Irinox know how that in MultiFresh has introduced its countless patents: MultiRack, the adjustable patented tray rack to double the capacity of trays in each model; Multisensor, the probe with 5 detection points for a perfect control of the food temperature and equipped with an automatic hooking system to the door and Sanigen, sanitizing system of the chamber that annuls the bacterial load and eliminates also possible unpleasant odours”.
Glauca Vesperini, Product Manager of Sagi, company operating for a long time in the design and manufacturing of refrigerated equipment for the professional sector, confirms the trend towards the multitasking of these complex appliances: “The new generations of blast chillers-freezers are more and more multipurpose machines: they chill, freeze, unfreeze and conserve, besides being provided with automatic and/or customizable programmes to satisfy all requirements indeed, from the catering to the pastry or ice cream making”.
For Sincold, Alessandro Marangon, Sales&Marketing Manager, confirms the indispensability of a blast chiller in professional kitchens: “Our company has been producing blast chillers for almost 20 years and today we can define the blast chiller not as an operating appliance but as a valid and irreplaceable “collaborator” for all the players of the Italian and international food. The novelties in the use of this instrument today can be endless, according to the fancy and to the product type, we want to process, different the functions and the use modalities that allow attaining a real economic saving, in addition to a really surprising food quality. With state-of-the-art machines, for instance, we can obtain the leavening and the unfreezing at controlled temperature of whatever dish or product in the bread, pastry and pizza making”.
Target, highest performances
User friendliness and ergonomics are two fundamental aspects for a correct operation of blast chillers. It turns out then fundamental and strategic the design phase of these appliances, where it is mandatory to take various key factors into account, such as practicality, intuitiveness as well as parameters that involve the reduction of consumptions that, in machines like these, can remarkably rise.
Concerning this, what solutions have companies devised and how have they set up the control system?
According to Caudillo of Coldline “User friendliness and usability are the passwords that the R&D department must pursue in the design of each new appliance. The Vision chill blaster has been revolutionary also in this ambit: it has introduced the touch display in the professional refrigeration world. The user interacts with a clear and simple textual menu, he is guided by a list of recipes already optimized to process each food typology but he can customize them at will. Once achieved the satisfactory result, he can save the recipe in the personal menu, with the certainty that that processing will be repeatable endless times by his complete staff of chefs”.
Vision multitasking chill blasters rely on a very flexible technology, usable uninterruptedly to perform different tasks. The available functions are the following: chilling, freezing, negative conservation, positive conservation, leavening and leavening-retarding, negative conservation, crystallization and maintenance of chocolate, ice cream unfreezing and conservation. What about consumptions? “We work daily to reduce consumptions and to make our appliances more and more sustainable. We search for new components and innovative materials without losing sight of the refrigerating force”.
In the opinion of Electrolux, equipping the appliance with a control display was an indispensable step to allow the simplified use during all processing phases: “Our chill blasters and freezers are implemented to complete the Cook and Chill process, our fully integrated system of cooking, chilling and regeneration that is based on the use of the oven or of the chiller (air-o-system). The control panel has two luminous displays for the immediate reading of time, core temperature, alarms and service information. Moreover, also all information are registered: date, hour, cycle, core temperature, maintenance temperature, HACCP parameters, 2 customizable cycles and the Turbo Cooling function where the blast chiller works at full power all day long at the wished temperature, ideal for non-stop productions”.
In terms of sustainability instead: “Thanks to a broad choice of Air-o-chill chilling cycles it allows organizing at best the workflow in lab, saving time and especially money. Chilling and freezing cycles are very fast to permit a noteworthy energy saving. The environment protection is one of the fundamental values inspiring Electrolux and supporting its vision in each phase of the product lifecycle: from design to production, from the installation to the disposal. All of our solutions are engineered to consume the least energy, water and detergents, as well as to grant the lowest emissions in the environment”.
According to Irinox, too, the user friendliness is necessarily achieved through the equipment of an intuitive control panel: “The multitasking MultiFresh chiller is equipped with MyA, a touchscreen interface with 7” screen that has made it much more intuitive, with clear icons that allow choosing the most suitable function and cycles for each production. At any time, it is possible to vary the parameters of each cycle – time, ventilation and core temperature – to create the ideal process for each product. The display can be connected by Wi-Fi to software to download the data of the processing cycles executed with the blast chiller every day”.
Several are the devices to keep energy consumptions low, too: “Blast chillers and industrial freezers are conceived to assure utmost efficiency: from the research of the materials with the minor environmental impact to the attainment of the best performances, with the lowest energy consumptions in the category. The choice of the suppliers is made by testing each single component, both from the point of view of the performance and of the declared sustainability. The continuous on/off management of fans electronically controlled and with variable speed, for instance, assures very low energy consumptions, operating only for the necessary time to reach the temperature required in the chamber. The cooling plant is fuelled by 30% of gas less than in the previous versions”.
The Ultra range as well, produced by Sagi, besides having the controls positioned on the plan, slightly inclined, is equipped with double-grip handle and with the RGB MSG LED system, led lighting – blue, yellow and red –that allows the operator to control the operation remotely, too. “Moreover, both the Ultra and Flash ranges have been developed to assure highly sustainable functions, thanks to the patented programme I.F.R. “Intelligent Food Recognition” and the possibility of choosing the load typology (minimum, middle and maximum) that allows operating by adjusting the power according to the type of food and/or the quantity of food introduced”.
“An intuitive touch control card, an excellent system of pre-set programmes and a simple customization of processing cycles are the highlight of the Smartchef system – confirms Alessandro Marangon for Sincold – At the same time, our constant lab tests, the research in the field of the advanced technology make our brand a reliable and durable product. Moreover, the use of Gas R290 and the prearrangement for the connection with the CO2 control units allow us to be in the forefront in terms of eco-sustainability and consumptions”.
Top performances also at home
Several are the household appliances that simplify our life in the kitchen, the blast chiller we have examined directly derives from the professional world, like, on the other hand, several other appliances in the past, and is one of the latest discoveries.
Domestic blast chillers assume however a simpler configuration, are much smaller than professional ones but the operating principle is the same, just with smaller volumes.
What are then the main characteristics and performances of these machines, reviewed for domestic applications? How much can the presence of a blast chiller at home be useful?
The blast chiller KitchenAid, historical company in the production of “domestic” appliances, in addition to an essential look that recalls professional appliances, is equipped with the very clear and user friendly White Display interface. It can cool or freeze raw or cooked foods in few minutes, keeping their aroma, taste and nutritional values intact through three professional functions: fast “Soft” refrigeration that diminishes the food temperature from +65°C to +3°C gradually in 90 minutes; fast “Hard” cooling that reduces the temperature quickly from +65°C to +3°C in 90 minutes and chilling that quickly decreases the internal temperature of foods to -18°C, this function allows keeping consistency and taste unchanged, even after the unfreezing. It is also equipped with a special function: if we are not at home when a refrigeration or freezing cycle ends, this function is automatically set on the modalities “Refrigerator” or “Freezer” and keeps the temperature constant until when foods will be extracted.
Life is the multipurpose blast chiller by Coldline that has introduced into domestic kitchens the technology, the innovation and the experience gained by the company in the professional sector: “Calling it chiller is almost reductive” explains spiega Massimo Caudillo “it would be better to speak of multi-climatic technology since it offers 8 different functions that manage temperatures from -40°C to +45°C: chilling, freezing, conservation, unfreezing, leavening, yogurt, bottle refrigeration and chocolate crystallization. Life is intuitive and user friendly. The touch display provides more than one hundred optimized programmes that accompany the user so that the food is treated correctly and an excellent result is attained”.
According to Irinox, too, the experience gained in the professional world has been determinant to design at best the appliance for domestic use: “The blast chiller is a state-of-the-art household appliance that combines the fast cooling with the slow warming. Conceived for home applications, to conserve the food quality longer and perfectly. It helps with simplicity a good nourishing every day, it allows cooking in delicate manner, also several days in advance, permitting stocks of fresh foods, zero waste and perfect domestic organization”.
On behalf of Fulgor Milano, Paolo Mainardi, Brand Manager of the Vicenza company, explains us the main performances of the machine proposed by the range: “The perfect functional and aesthetical integration of the blast chiller with our compact range, the use of standard trays of our ovens and the combination between conservation and slow cooking”.
“The main target consists in having for domestic applications, then with small sizes, a product with professional-level performances”, states Giusy Maddalena, Marketing and Sales Manager Italia of Smalvic, summarizing the main features of the high-efficiency blast chiller. “Thanks to the electro-sanitizing function, the so called fish-chilling, the blast chiller by Smalvic can keep the organoleptic values and the freshness conditions of fish unchanged, unique domestic chiller available on the Italian market that includes this professional function. The electro-sanitizing is a process that in 24 hours (for 4 hours the temperature is dropped to -20°, then the chilling lasts for further 20 hours) can completely eliminate the bacteria of raw fish, granting the availability of always very fresh fish”.
The added value of the domestic chiller
Are domestic machines anyway precisely the same as those used in professional ambit? Are there any differences from the technological point of view? What are the main characteristics implied in the design of these appliances? In terms of consumptions, have they provided functions that allow saving energy?
“With Life we have introduced the touch screen interface, the patented system of programmes studied for each food typology and the dynamic management of temperature and ventilation inside the same cycle. Freezing sliced fruit, for instance, requires a combination of different parameters from those needed to freeze perfectly a tray of lasagne; likewise, the optimal temperature and ventilation intensity for unfreezing a roast are not the same used for a tuna steak to be tasted raw. Most experienced people can anyway amuse themselves in experimenting new combinations of temperature, cycle duration and ventilation intensity”, tell us Caudillo from Coldline. Moreover, in terms of sustainability, the Life chiller can boast very low consumptions: “We have chosen with great attention the technical components and the insulating materials, this allows us to activate the refrigerating system and the resistances for short periods in the course of a complete cycle. I make an example: a maturation cycle of two litres of yogurt lasts about 12 hours, with cold and hot phases and it costs only € 0.16. The programmes at users’ disposal are optimized to keep the blast chiller in operation for the shortest possible time and to save energy. Besides, it is possible to use the core probe, which is a thermometer introduced into the food that stops the chiller as soon as the set temperature is reached (3°C for chilling or -18°C for freezing). In this way, you attain a further energy saving”.
Paolo Mainardi from Fulgor Milano underlines that “From the technological point of view, our blast chiller is based on various conservation types (chilling and freezing), slow cooking at low temperature with the extra plus of fast refreshing of drinks and for us it is conceived as a saving instrument because it allows conserving, integrated with vacuum, raw and cooked foods, thus eliminating wastes and reusing all the ingredients contained in the dish preparation with the application of the awareness principle”.
The minimal design confirms to be the trend of domestic chillers also for Irinox and it must be combined with a technology permitting to save time and money: “The technology of the fast cooling and slow warming encompasses several functions to cook and to conserve foods healthily. Thanks to the domestic blast chiller, it is possible to cook several days in advance, thus creating a stock of fresh foods ready to be tasted at any time. Moreover, sustainability and consumptions are aspects that Irinox has deemed essential for the design course: the blast chiller for domestic applications consumes 250 W at the maximum power, with an hourly cost of 0.075 Euros, compared for instance to a microwave oven that consumes 2000 W and involves an hourly cost of 0.60 Euros”.
Naturally the importance of the presence of an intuitive interface, thanks to which controlling the processing phases, together with the reduction of consumptions, is one of the pillars on which is based the built-in blast chiller of Linea 45 by Smalvic. Giusy Maddalena specifies that “From the technological point of view, it is worth reminding that the operation starting is accomplished by touch controls and the electronic card for the programming of functions has been purposely designed for the electro-sanitizing function, one of the most advanced of the products available on the market. Our company is always committed to the reduction of energy consumptions, naturally the European regulation is our reference parameter. An example is represented by the electronic temperature control: in case of freezing, the temperature is automatically self-regulated depending on the temperature of the cooked food (it self-adjusts), an automation that permits energy and time saving”.