What is Impingement Freezing?

Malcolm Tatum

The process of impingement freezing is a common means of cooling and freezing foods that are anticipated to undergo further processing before being sold. This is especially true of beef and poultry that will be used to create dinner entrees by using the meats as an ingredient within the recipe. Here is some information about the process of impingement freezing, and what the process does to keep the food fresh and healthy.

Impingement freezing is used for prepared dinners such as TV dinners.
Impingement freezing is used for prepared dinners such as TV dinners.

The basic concept of impingement freezing is to use the power of air to gently cool and eventually freeze cuts of meat that will receive further cooking as part of a finished product. High velocity air jets are used to lower the temperature of the outer layer of the meat, then slowly freeze the entire cut. This allows the meats to remain nutritious during the period in between the freezing and the actual use as part of various types of frozen foods. The jets are directed at both the top and the bottom of the cut of meat, allowing for an even and consistent process of freezing. This is referred to as creating a thermal barrier around the meat that effectively locks in texture, flavor and taste.

Impingement freezing is often used with meats that are slated for use in frozen casserole recipes, as part of prepared dinners, and precooked foods, such as battered chicken breasts and strips. Beef that is used in the preparation of frozen meat loaves and entrees containing a mixture of meat and pasta are also often prepared by the use of impingement freezing. The result is a product that has a longer shelf life in the supermarket as well as in the home freezer.

Using impingement freezing is one of the means used to create quality foods that are similar to freshly prepared home recipes. Because the process helps to maintain the flavor and appearance of the mass produced frozen entrees on the market today, the cost and quality is often favorably compared to creating meals from scratch. As a time saver that still allows for the consumption of healthy meals, impingement freezing helps to make it possible for even busy people to enjoy a nutritious meal without spending a lot of time in the kitchen. From the perspective of economy, impingement freezing also allows consumers an opportunity to enjoy meals that may cost less than purchasing all the individual components separately and combining them for a meal at home.

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