Cook - Freeze
Cook freeze is the process of cooking meals until they are almost done and then rapidly freezing them.
The process involves the preparation and cooking of meals at a central factory, rapidly reducing temperature to minus 20 degrees centigrade for storage until they are needed.
Cook Freeze foods need to be packed in shallow trays to make the process more efficient. The food is cooled to storage temperature within 90 minutes of cooking and stored at a maintained temperature of -20 degrees Celsius. The meals can then be transported in refrigerated transport to where the food is to be reheated (regenerated) and consumed when needed.
The length of storage depends on the food but typically it can be stored for months. For longer storage the food may be subjected to pasteurisation after cooking.
The main target group for these products are people who have no time to spend cooking. These products are ideal because they are so easy. Typical categories would be schools, pensioners and possibly hospitals.
These processes have the advantage that the preparation and cooking of the meals is not tied to the times when the food is to be served, enabling staff and equipment to be used more efficiently.
A properly managed operation is capable of supplying high quality meals economically in spite of the high initial equipment costs. There are potential problems, however. In particular, careful attention has to be paid to hygiene, as there are a number of points in the process where food pathogens can gain access. This requires careful attention to both the control of the process and to staff training