We all want to feel good about the seafood we serve our families. We want items that are nutritious, flavorful, high-quality, and safe to eat. For many people, this means favoring fresh over frozen seafood – if they’ll buy frozen items at all.
Believe it or not, fresh and frozen don’t have to be enemies. In fact, they don’t even have to be opposites!
Flash freezing is an advanced process that uses modern technology to combine the best qualities of fresh and frozen into premium seafood products. Flash-frozen items actually maintain ideal freshness for longer without the use of artificial preservatives, making it a healthy and sustainable way to enjoy your favorite seafood at its best.
What Is Flash Freezing?
Flash freezing is a modern freezing process that uses cryogenic temperatures to freeze products at an accelerated rate. The process uses advanced technology to push extremely cold air across a product at high speeds, freezing it solid as quickly as possible. Most products are then immediately vacuum-sealed to maintain this status until they are defrosted. This results in frozen items that, when thawed, are just as fresh as the day they were frozen.
Flash freezing is widely used across the seafood industry to preserve shrimp, scallops, fish, and more. Almost all commercial fishermen immediately flash-freeze their catch after cleaning to lock in flavor and preserve shelf-life. In fact, the FDA guidelines for selling any fish intended to be eaten raw require a deep freeze in sub zero temperature for an extended period of time to kill off any parasites so the fish is fit for consumption.
What is the difference between flash frozen and frozen?
Don’t let the name fool you – flash-freezing is much different than what happens in your household freezer. It’s done much faster, at much colder temperatures, and takes much less time than traditional freezing. It also has far better results!
Have you ever noticed that icy buildup on some frozen meats? Those are actually ice crystals that form when products are frozen slowly at temperatures near the freezing point, which is what happens in a traditional freezer.
When thawed, these crystals break tissue fibers and strip a meat of moisture, leading to that stale, watery taste.
In contrast, flash-freezing uses cryogenic temperatures to freeze meats in a matter of minutes. This gives your seafood less time to develop those damaging ice crystals, resulting in less damage and better quality.
Manage seasonal changes in volume and supply
Regulate the high cost of distribution
Allows for a slower transport that uses less emissions
Address the high levels of seafood waste
(About 23% of seafood purchased by retailers goes to waste!)
Tackle the unaffordable nature of seafood products for consumers
Sustainable fisheries management is complicated, especially when the seafood market is known for having a history of volatility – with prices, variables, and demand constantly in flux. Being able to store and market frozen product over a range of time means that fishermen can choose to fish in good weather, can diversify into new species of fish, and can sell product outside of fishing season (when prices or demand might be higher).
What are the benefits of flash-freezing?
Flash-freezing has a number of benefits that make it better for consumers, the seafood community, and the environment:
Much like a melting ice-cube, the quality of fresh seafood begins to decline as soon as it touches fresh air. Flash-freezing at sea captures fish in their freshest state to preserve the ideal taste, texture, nutrients and appearance. In fact, flash-frozen fish are virtually indistinguishable from a same-day catch!
The ultra-low temperatures used in flash-freezing effectively kills harmful bacteria. In fact, the FDA requires that fish intended for raw consumption – those used in dishes like sushi or ceviche – must be frozen first to kill parasites.
Fish that are flash-frozen and vacuum sealed can maintain their freshness indefinitely. This means buyers can fill their own freezers with all of their favorites and never stress about spoiling!
Flash-freezing keeps seafood prices affordable by cutting down on shipping costs. Instead of needing to charter expensive planes to quickly move fresh items, businesses can choose longer transport options that cost much less. It also means businesses can affordably ship species to non-native locations, saving you money on your far-away favorites.
Money isn’t the only reason easy shipping options are a big benefit for flash-freezing. Transporting a flash-frozen product by boat, train, etc. produces far less carbon emissions than flying a fresh product across the same distance. The ability to reduce carbon emissions is a major win for sustainability.
A staggering amount of fresh food products are wasted by retailers each year. Stores are forced to dispose of fresh products that aren’t purchased in a matter of days after reaching the shelves. In contrast, products that are flash-frozen can be stored for much longer or even shipped to other locations to cut down on food waste.
Ahi Seafood Market Supports Sustainability
Providing flash-frozen products is just one way Ahi Seafood Market is committed to serving high-quality, sustainable seafood to the Gulf Coast. Our commercial fishing partners use advanced coolant technology free of carbon monoxide to guarantee the freshest taste and highest quality while also protecting the planet. For both our local and non-regional seafood items, we focus on making responsible and informed purchasing decisions that support long-term sustainability for the species, the environment, and our local fishing community.