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Saturday, 14 March 2015

Frozen Food

The Chinese are known to have used ice cellars to freeze foods around 1000 BC.

The Incas developed the process of freeze-drying food. They stored their potatoes and other food crops on the Andean mountain heights. The cold mountain temperature froze the food and the water inside slowly vaporised under the low air pressure of the high altitudes. The potatoes were then thawed and stomped on to remove excess water.

Clarence Birdseye (December 9, 1886 – October 7, 1956), a Government field naturalist,  was working in Labrador, Newfoundlamd. During his field assignment, which was off and on from 1912 to 1915, he became interested in food preservation by freezing. Birdseye noticed that freshly caught fish, when placed onto the Arctic ice by the Eskimos and exposed to the icy wind and frigid temperatures, froze solid almost immediately. Yet when the fish was thawed and eaten, it retained all its fresh characteristics. He concluded that quickly freezing certain items kept large crystals from forming, preventing damage to their cellular structure.

After years of experimenting after his time in Labrador, with an investment of $7 for an electric fan, buckets of brine, and cakes of ice, Clarence Birdseye invented and perfecting a system of packing fresh food into waxed cardboard boxes and flash-freezing under high pressure.

In 1924 Clarence Birdseye organised his own company, Birdseye Seafoods, Inc. at a plant near the Fulton Fish Market in New York City. There he begun processing chilled fish fillets by packing dressed fish in cartons, then freezing the contents between two flat, refrigerated surfaces under pressure. This was the beginning of the frozen foods industry.

The retail of frozen foods was birthed in 18 stores in Springfield, Massachusetts on June 6, 1930. Birdseye made available 26 different vegetables, fruits, fish, and meats available to consumers in the "Springfield Experiment Test Market.” They were sold  as “Birds Eye Frosted Foods.”

Frozen food went on sale for the first time in Britain on May 10, 1937. UK's first frozen food product was asparagus made by Smedley’s of Wisbech.

The sales of frozen food were boosted during the Second World War as metals for tins were in very short supply.

Source Food For Thought by Ed Pearce

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