Thursday, 1 October 2009

Knowing about freezing

Some people in this parish turn out to know more about the freezing process than most people in the world.

There is a concentration of cold stores in the area because the majority of the fish eaten in the country has passed through the Humber at some point. There is also a huge amount of processing, and we get the occasional whiff here of fish fingers cooking: I learnt from television a while ago that these are not cooked and then frozen, rather already frozen fish has a coating which is added and cooked so quickly that the fish inside remains frozen.

So this week I was given a very brief tour of the new Humber Seafood Institute on the Europarc development in Great Coates. Major EU, regional and local authority investment has established a multi-million pound research and education base. Most major firms and the Grimsby Institute of FE and HE (GIFHE) are involved, so that industry’s needs and opportunities relate directly to education and training provision. A research group most recently based at the Bristol University has moved up because GIFHE seemed to be ‘the most interesting and welcoming’ base it could find.

It appears that freezing food produces ice crystals within it which damage it, which is why it is looks and tastes different when it is unfrozen, and which is why the process is the subject of so much professional expertise and academic research. So we were shown a piece of Japanese kit which freezes food in a magnetic field making crystals aligned, smaller and less damaging. And we were told about research on a slow freezing process which keeps some foods beneath their freezing point but unfrozen.

The picture, on the other hand, is another from the walk a little while ago at North Ormsby.

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