Not only do vegetables and fruits retain their natural flavor and texture by freezing, but they also retain nutrients if the production process is properly done. Freezing is, undoubtedly, the most satisfactory method of preserving quality during longer storage periods. Several operations are needed during freezing including sorting, washing, cutting, blanching, freezing and packing. However, these operations vary with the types of vegetables.
Cold Alex ensures that the raw materials are of the highest quality and guarantees the nutritive values of the products. We monitor the whole process which begins in the field with careful utilization of fertilizers and pesticides. We also make sure that everything is done with special equipment. Samples are taken from water and crops to check for heavy metal, pesticide residue, the acidity and alkalinity of the soil.
Picking and Selecting:
We observe closely the process of vegetables being picked after reaching their peak flavor and texture. We also carefully check the selection of the freshest and the ripest crops when they are young and tender as the younger the harvest, the more tender and flavorful it is.
Sorting and Washing:
We use special care in sorting as even a small quantity of inferior material can spoil the flavor of the products. Vegetables like Okra and artichokes are sorted according to size to be prepared for blanching and packing. At this stage, washing is essential to remove soil and grit to wash away foreign objects.
Products are blanched for 1 to 10 minutes depending on the size of individual vegetable or fruit pieces. Blanching time varies depending on the intended product use .Moreover, the process is carried out at 95º using de-ironed and decalcified water to avoid biological pollution. This process is a must for almost all products except strawberries. Blanching has the effect of reducing the activity of derivative enzymes and kill microbes that can cause loss of flavor, natural
color and texture.
This stage is carried out immediately after blanching to prepare for the IQF tunnel so the product can reach its best preserving temperature at -18°C and to ensure better quality. As soon as the cooling stage is complete, products are drained thoroughly as extra moisture can cause a loss of quality when vegetables and fruits are frozen.
To maintain top quality and lock in freshness, the products are rapidly frozen to the core at - 40º c by IQF (Individually Quick Frozen Technology).In Cold Alex, IQF is used to limit expansions of ice crystals in order to minimize cell damage and preserve texture and
Foreign body protection:
We use combination of magnets and metal detectors to eliminate the presence of foreign elements.
Cold Alex processes vegetables and fruits in bulk packs to ensure all year round availability and allow permanent supply for year round deliveries independent from seasons. Bulk storage is done at 18º in temperature controlled warehouses to ensure well freezing till loading containers to reach the customers in perfect condition.
Here in Cold Alex, we use several audits that surpass HACCP standards to guarantee better quality and cost satisfaction. Some restrictions must be taken into account during the design and packaging production process in order to protect products from dehydration and contamination and to maintain product safety, and help preserve it over a longer period of time. In addition to that, quality control is done during packaging and it entails: weight, labeling and sealing control. Above all, we also offer various forms of packaging. Bags include: retail bags, catering and private labels.
Cold Alex uses only the finest vegetables. The entire production process is monitored with a series of important and detailed checks that include the HACCP industry standard control as well as some comprehensive checking producers which Cold Alex food imposes upon self. All raw materials are subjected to quality control process or QC which reviews the quality of all factors involved in production and emphasizes testing of the vegetables to uncover defects. Several quality controls are carried out including:
1) Field checkups.
2) Field database that contains the fields we receive our raw materials from.
3) Making sure that the field managers are up to standards.
4) Testing for GMO’s
5) Checking for excessive use of pesticides.
6) Soil tests for the fields for future harvests
In Cold Alex, all vegetables and fruits must be carefully inspected both before and after freezing to ensure quality. During production process, they go through chemical, physical and organoleptic control where the aspects of food or other substances as experienced by the senses, including taste, sight, smell, and touch, in cases where dryness, moisture, and stale-fresh factors are to be considered.
Finally, all control results are fed into a computer system, which links them to appropriate production and packaging instructions and allows us to perform accurate traceability.