Guest Author - Jason Hodge
For some, this may be elementary. We use ice baths to shock blanched and or par-cooked foods. We use it to rapidly bring down the temperature of hot dishes readying them for packaging and to immediately stop the cooking process. There are a few great reasons why you want to do this:
Minimizes Potential Food Borne Illnesses
Saves on Loss to Spoilage
Increases Shelf Life of your Prepared Meals
Makes for Faster Turn Around and Clean Up
Ice baths provide flavor preservation. Have you ever made a great lasagna one day and the following day had it for leftovers? I've noticed over the years that having chilled and reheated the lasagna for the following days' meal that the flavor profile is more balanced and intense. I like to look at food as having pores that open up when heated and close down when cooled. By taking hot, well seasoned foods and rapidly bringing down the temperature, you force those 'pores' of the food closed, locking in those rich flavors, almost like a post-marinade. By the time you reheat the dish, it has already absorbed those flavor elements beyond the walls of the pores and incorporated them into the total surface area of the food. You hold onto the original flavors as well as having those flavors go more than on just the surface.
MINIMIZE FOOD BORNE ILLNESS
Ice baths slow down the progression of illness causing bacteria, because it takes the food quickly through the danger zone, keeping the ideal bacteria breeding temperatures at bay. This minimizes potential lawsuits, claims against your insurance and unnecessary monies spent on premiums, possible court costs, etc. When you use your ice bath your main focus is to get your meal cold enough to package without becoming a petri dish for microorganisms to grow on. This in turn Saves on LOSS and SPOILAGE.
INCREASES SHELF LIFE
Ice baths increase the shelf life of your food by not allowing bacteria a safe and comfortable medium to grow on as well as preserving its nutritional values.
MAKES FASTER TURNAROUND AND CLEAN UP TIME
Personally, I prefer the ice bath method to the shallow 2 in pan method. With the ice bath you can have your vessel chilled and ready to go in the fridge for your clients in a fraction of he time it would take for your dish to cool down on its own. You can take a boiling hot pot, with its contents, slip it into an ice bath and bring down its temperature in a matter of minutes as opposed to well over an hour. This means that you could refrigerate/freeze your dishes faster and prep for your next clients earlier.
Now onto the simple way of how to make an ice bath...
Whether your ice bath consists of a small glass bowl for you to chill blanched veggies in or something larger and / or more involved like your kitchen sink stopped up and filled with ice and water all it takes is three main ingredients:
and a Container
Fill the container with ice and cold water submerge your pot, blanched greens, etc. in it, stir to allow the heat to naturally, rapidly, dissipate leaving the colors vibrant, the textures crisp and the flavors in tact. With this information you should be able to increase your productivity, build your own ice bath and you're ready to go!
As always... it's been my pleasure sharing with you efficiency building, health promoting, ice bath information. Until next time...