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Mechanical IQF for maximum food quality

IQF mechanical spiral freezers
DSI Dantech spiral freezer
Individual quick freezing

Mechanical IQF freezing

IQF – or individual quick freezing – is a method to freeze separate food items very quickly. It is also a method that guarantees high food quality, food safety as well as the preservation of size, taste, and cell structure. The principle behind mechanical IQF is fast and cold air circulation that flows horizontally and is guided over individual items to freeze them very quickly.

Our solutions are based on a standard mechanical refrigeration cycle, and our smart design ensures the fastest possible air speed over the product and the fastest freezing time on the market. This results in a higher yield and better product quality – at the same time, our solutions are up to 10% more energy efficient than alternative mechanical IQF freezing solutions.

Fast freezing is preferable to sustain product quality, as it prevents the formation of large ice crystals within the food. Ice crystals are a natural effect of freezing. Small ice crystals have little effect on food, whereas large ice crystals destroy the cell membrane structures and affect the shape, color, smell, and taste. The fast freezing also has a positive effect on the natural occurring yield reduction and saves you 0.3%-1.5% compared to other mechanical IQF solutions on the market.

Individual quick freezing

IQF food processing

Freezing chicken nuggets in spiral freezer

IQF stands for individual quick freezing. It is a freezing method that is used to freeze food products like certain seafood, such as shrimps and small fish, meat, poultry, berries, fruits, and vegetables – whole, diced and sliced as well as pasta, cheese, baked goods, and grains. There are two types of IQF treatment: mechanical IQF and cryogenic IQF. We offer both technologies, and our customers often combine the two.

Freezing meat and patties in spiral freezer
Customized solutions

Mechanical IQF freezing for your production

A mechanical IQF freezing system uses a recirculating refrigerant with an air cooler that exchanges heat from the air circulating within the freezer to reduce the temperature of the food. All of our solutions are customized to fit your production line(s) and can use CO2, ammonia, or other common refrigerants.

Our mechanical IQF freezing solutions freeze 20% faster than other solutions on the market. Our design has a special airflow that is facilitated by oversized evaporators with 40% more lamella space. This results in a lower Delta T and much colder temperatures – which, of course, allow products to freeze much faster.

We recommend mechanical IQF freezing for large scale and high-volume productions of both raw and finished goods. The starting cost for a mechanical IQF freezing solution is higher than a cryogenic one, but for large-scale productions with high-volume products, it will break even rather quickly due to the extremely large freezing capacity and the efficient, cost-effective, and energy saving mechanical IQF technology.

IQF cooling, heating, and heat exchanging

Our mechanical cooling and heating equipment can also be used to cool and chill food and for long duration cooking or very high-volume production food such as poultry, meat, prepared foods, and baked products. The IQF treatment preserves original moisture, content, and flavor, and achieves rapid heat transfer without dehydration or cold spots. It also maintains product yield with the lowest cost per kg of cooked product and lowest kW consumption. Our product range includes spiral ovens, steam cookers, spiral sous vides, and pasteurizers.

Freezing of quality chicken breast
Fast freezing

Sustain food quality

Fast freezing is the best way to sustain food, especially when it is frozen at its peak freshness. It reduces the activity of microorganisms, chemical and enzymatic reactions, and it sustains a high degree of nutritional value. It also results in less yield loss and better product quality.

This is also the case with mechanical IQF food processing. During any freezing process, ice crystals will form inside the product. Different foods freeze differently based on the amount of water, sugar, muscle tissue, and air in the product. However, common for all types of food is that the faster food freezes, the smaller the ice crystals are. Small ice crystals are preferable; they do less damage to the cell walls than large ice crystals that punch through the membranes. As a result, when foods with small ice crystals thaw, there is less drip loss of liquids and fewer changes to the product’s shape, texture, and color.

IQF freezing is an energy friendly choice
A mechanical IQF freezing solution is not only good for food quality and safety. It also benefits the environment. The many days of operation without defrosting results in less water consumption, wastewater, and chemical usage. Tests show that whether you work with meat, poultry, fruit & vegetables, or ice cream and ready meals, our IQF solutions will benefit your bottom lines, operational savings, and environmental footprint as our solutions are 10% more energy efficient than other mechanical IQF solutions.

Minimized defrost

Minimized defrost affects food safety and cleaning costs

Cleaning and defrosting of a spiral freezer

With our mechanical IQF freezers, we can run hot breaded and fried products for 144 hours without defrost. The fact that we can keep freezers cold for a whole week without defrosting minimizes bacteria growth, which affects your food safety. On top of that, the rather few stops that are required for cleaning minimizes the cleaning costs as well as maximizes production.

It is also possible to include smart and safe cleaning by steam in all our individual quick freezing equipment. This is much more efficient than sequential defrosting; it takes up 31% less energy consumption.

Frequently asked questions

What does IQF stand for?

IQF stands for individual quick freezing. As the description suggests, it involves the freezing of individual pieces that don’t merge during the freezing process. It is the opposite of bulk and block freezing.

What is IQF freezing?

The mechanical IQF freezing system uses a recirculating refrigerant with an air cooler that exchanges heat from air circulating within the freezer. This reduces the temperature of the food inside the freezer.

When is it relevant to use mechanical IQF freezing?

It is relevant if you have a large scale production of food that needs no further processing. Sometimes it is beneficial to combine it with a cryogenic freezing solution, but in most cases, the mechanic IQF solution will cover all your needs.

Why is IQF favorable?

The IQF freezing process ensures very good product quality for high value products that are sold as individual portions to the lowest possible price, especially in case of large scale productions.

How fast does mechanical IQF freezing work?

Roughly, it takes a mechanical IQF freezer 1 minute to freeze 1 mm of fresh protein at an air temperature of -36°C. Therefore, in case you have a 40 mm tall fresh chicken breast, it will freeze from +4°C to -18°C in 40-45 minutes.

Is mechanical IQF freezing sustainable?

Mechanical IQF solutions from DSI Dantech are 8% more energy efficient than other mechanical IQF solutions on the market and they ensure the best possible yield.

What is the difference between IQF and blast freezing?

Blast freezing is a method to freeze items very quickly by means of cold air. IQF freezing is a method to freeze individual pieces very quickly – and often blast freezing is used to IQF freeze.

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