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    Posted by Marie Ristic on 25 July 2022

    Food Safety

    cook-chill for extended life things like curries and other ready meals

    How to Cook-Chill for Extended Life

    If you’re not already familiar with cook-chill equipment, you will be by the end of this blog post. You might have heard that cook-chill is the secret to extending the shelf life of your products but don’t know where to start. FPE is here to help. Read on to learn how to cook-chill for extended life and discover all the advantages and disadvantages so you can make an informed decision. 

    Overview:

    What is cook-chill for extended life?

    The cook-chill process allows food manufacturers to cook foods and then rapidly chill them and keep them under refrigeration until the consumer is ready to reheat and eat them. It is used to produce convenience foods like sauces and soups, as well as ready meals, curries and other similar items. 

    Cook-chill is so essential to extended shelf life because the rapid chilling of cooked product through the ‘danger zone’ of 5°C and 60°C hinders bacterial growth. 

    “The Cook-Chill System was developed as an economical alternative to traditional cook-and-serve methods. Food produced using the system retains the taste, texture and aroma of freshly prepared ingredients, yet may have been produced in large volumes up to 45 days in advance.” (DCN Brochure)

    Cook-chill for 5 day shelf life

    Cook-chill for 5 day shelf life, on the other hand, refers to the process used by restaurants and other commercial kitchens whereby food is cooked in advance and then refrigerated for up to 5 days. 

    Shelf life is very dependent on many things post-cooking, such as pack format, storage conditions, temperature, type of product (protein content, water content, acidic). So there’s no hard and fast rule in the restaurant sector regarding the number of days a product will last.

    What does a simple cook-chill system look like?

    The most basic components of an effective DCN cook-chill system are:

    1. Steam Jacketed Cooking Kettle: ensures that all times, temperatures and quality parameters are constantly monitored. 
    2. Pump Fill Station: transfers food at 85 – 95°C into cook-chill bags avoiding particulate damage. 
    3. Tumble Chiller: bags are gently circulated in chilled water to rapidly drop the temperature to below 4.5°C in under an hour (product dependent).

    The sealed bags are then placed in chilled storage at 1.5 – 4°C and can be stored for up to 45 days.

    what does a simple cook-chill system look like? infographic

    Cook-chill for extended life advantages

    The advantages of using DC Norris equipment to cook-chill for extended life include:

    1. Extends shelf life of manufactured foods to a maximum of 45 days.
    2. Production can be scheduled to meet sell-by-date requirements.
    3. No direct human or utensil contact during the cooking or packaging process
    4. Build up a stock of consistent quality food for future use.
    5. Production can be centralised for operations where food is distributed to off-site locations. 

    Now you know how to cook-chill for extended life with DC Norris. If you’d like further details about their systems or the other industrial cooking equipment we supply, please don’t hesitate to contact our friendly team on AUS 1800 882 549 or NZ 0800 100 003.

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