Essentials of Fish Preservation in United States Cold Storage

United States cold storage

This comprehensive guide is tailored for those eager to delve into the nitty-gritty of fish preservation, particularly focusing on the role of United States cold storage in this intriguing journey from the ocean to the dinner table.

Fish Afterlife: Post-Mortem Changes Uncovered

After fish are captured, intrinsic biological changes set in motion a unique post-mortem transformation. Decreasing pH levels, enzymatic breakdowns, and muscle protein contractions lead to a stiffening period known as rigor mortis, affecting the fish’s elasticity and stretchability. Eventually, the fish enters a “hardening” phase, regaining its original firmness while accruing soluble substances due to enzymatic self-digestion. This stage acts as a precursor to spoilage if invaded by bacteria, necessitating immediate preservation ideally in a cold storage facility.

United States cold storage
United States cold storage

Preservation in a United States Cold Storage: Processing & Storage

(1) What is Fish Cold Storage?

United States cold storage for fish is specifically designed to preserve a variety of aquatic foods, meeting the demand for high-quality, longer-lasting seafood. Given the rapid spoilage susceptibility of nutrient-rich seafood, US cold storage provides controlled, cold environments that retain the original taste and nutritional value of the fish, facilitating long-term storage, preservation, and transportation.

(2) Pre-Cold Storage Processing and Temperature Regulation

Before being placed in a US cold storage, fish generally undergo a cooling process. However, this method is unsuitable for long-term storage and is more applicable to short-term storage before transportation, processing, or selling fresh fish.

For a prolonged storage duration, the internal temperature of the fish must significantly drop. If required for only short-term storage, the surface layer of the fish can be frozen to -3℃ to -5℃, indicating a “micro freezing preservation” method, allowing approximately 20 days of storage in a -3℃ warehouse.

For a more extended storage period, the fish’s temperature should drop to -15℃ or lower. At this temperature, 85% of the body water in the fish is frozen, inducing minimal adverse changes and facilitating long-term storage.

(3) Freezing Techniques and Precautions

For freezing fish before placement in the United States cold storage, rapid freezing is typically conducted based on quality requirements. The process involves different methods such as saltwater immersion, contact method, and semi-air blowing method. This freezing process protects fish‘s surfaces from drying and oxidation during freezing, creating an ice film on the fish’s surface, known as “polishing”.

Fish, especially fatty ones with a high level of unsaturated fatty acids, are susceptible to oxidation. Hence, apart from freezing, it’s crucial to maintain a consistent, low-temperature ice coat on the fish’s surface during the refrigeration process.

Proper retention of freshness and nutritional quality in fish preservation calls for an intricate understanding of the post-mortem biological changes and appropriate freezing and storage techniques. As the industry continues to flourish, the pivotal role played by the United States cold storage facilities in seafood preservation becomes increasingly evident, shaping the future of seafood consumption in the country.

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