Top Chef: Thinking IQF At Home

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Bravo exposed the secret science of frozen dinners in last week’s episode of Top Chef. Chef Rocco DiSpirito showed up to help contestants deconstruct frozen dinners.

IQF — individual quick freezing — became the buzzword of the episode. Freezing broth or sauce, pasta, and vegetables separately before combining them in the package is the key.

The TV Zone explains in this way:

Remember the days when frozen peas came in an icy block? That was pre-IQF. Now blanched fresh peas are placed on a conveyor belt and rolled into an incredibly cold blast freezer that instantly freezes each one—that’s why they rattle around in the package. The quicker you freeze something, the less its texture is affected by being frozen and then defrosted.

Of course we home cooks don’t have the fast freeze technology to do true IQF in our kitchens, but the principles remain the same.

This weekend, we froze blueberries on a cookie sheet. That way, each berry froze individually. After they froze, we poured them into a freezer bag. This technique should keep them from freezing into one big blue block ‘o berries. That’s our version of IQF in action … let us know if you have other freezer tricks to share.