How to Flash Freeze Food for Easy Grab-and-Go Portions

Frozen foods can retain their vitamins and minerals because freezing preserves nutrients

Image credit: Shutterstock/Tatiana Maksimova

It’s not just consumers that purchase frozen food. Catering companies, restaurants, educational and medical facilities, and other organizations also rely on this type of processing to fill out their offerings. In this guide, we’ll be going over the top frozen food suppliers on, as well as the top US processors in 2019 according to their sales for the fiscal year.

DALLAS — JTM Foods, LLC, a portfolio company of Tenex Capital Management, has acquired Cookies-n-Milk, a bakery and frozen dessert manufacturer, according to Pinecrest Capital Partners, which was the exclusive adviser to Cookies-n-Milk in the transaction.

JTM Foods and Tenex Capital Management will support Cookies-n-Milk as it expands operations.

“We are so excited to be a part of the JTM/Tenex family,” Mr. Blasko said. “Their teams bring strong leadership and specific industry experience that will enable Cookies-n-Milk to build off its current momentum and ensure that the company continues its impressive growth trajectory. I was extremely impressed with the process that Pinecrest put together. I cannot thank them enough.”

JTM Foods produces snack pies and other sweet goods out of a facility in Erie, Pa. Last August the company broke ground on a new 195,000-square-footmanufacturing plantin Wichita, Kan., that should double its current manufacturing and distribution footprint.

Sometimes you need just a handful of this or a little bit of that: strawberries for a smoothie, a single hot dog to satisfy a hungry child, or a quick lunch to take to work. If you “flash freeze” small portions of food, that handful of berries or last-minute meal can be ready and waiting in the freezer.

So what is flash freezing? In the food industry—or on fast-paced cooking TV shows—this term means freezing foods at extremely low temperatures with circulating air. (It’s also sometimes called “blast freezing.”) This quick-chill method keeps ice crystals small, which prevents moisture loss in the food when it thaws.

For the home cook, however, the definition is different: Flash freezing refers to the practice of freezing individual pieces of food, usually spread out on a baking sheet to keep them from fusing together, then packing them in airtight containers for longer storage. This method allows you to thaw and use just the amount of food needed, rather than pulling out larger amounts from your freezer.

To get started, you’ll need a baking sheet or tray that fits in your freezer and freezer-safe containers or resealable bags. Depending on what you’re freezing, you may need plastic freezer wrap or heavy-duty aluminum foil.

Prepare Food for Flash Freezing

  • Most foods don’t need to be washed before flash freezing. However, you should always rinse berries (or any fresh produce) and pat them dry.
  • If applicable, divide food into small, individual portions or pieces. This step makes sense for preportioned or easily divided foods, such as dinner rolls, chicken breasts, meatballs, and cooked meat loaf.
  • Place the food on a baking sheet or tray. Make sure the edges of the pieces do not touch, as this can cause them to fuse together while they chill. Freeze for 2 to 3 hours, or until firm.

Test Kitchen Tip: For easier cleanup, line the baking sheet or tray with parchment paper, waxed paper, or plastic wrap before adding the food.

Seal or Wrap, Label, and Freeze

  • Remove the food from the baking sheet and wrap it in either plastic freezer wrap or heavy-duty aluminum foil. Alternatively, transfer it to resealable freezer bags or freezer-safe food-storage containers with tight-fitting lids.
  • Label the package using a wax crayon or permanent marker, indicating the name of the item, the quantity or size, and the date it was frozen.
  • Return the food to the freezer.

Test Kitchen Tip: Do not use foil to wrap foods that contain acidic ingredients, such as tomatoes or lemon juice, since acid reacts with aluminum foil. Instead, use plastic freezer wrap.

Top Featured Frozen Food Suppliers on Thomas

Below we’ve laid out the top featured frozen food suppliers on In addition to the company name and headquarters location, we’ve also included each company’s business activities as well as its year founded.

Table 1: Top Featured Frozen Food Suppliers on Thomas

Top Featured Frozen Food Suppliers on Thomas—Company Summaries

Cargill, Inc. is headquartered in Wichita, KS. The company offers beef, turkey, chicken, and egg products for food manufacturers, retailers, and food service companies. They also provide food and beverage manufacturing ingredients.

Top Frozen Food Suppliers in the USA by Revenue

Table 2 shows details on the top frozen food suppliers in the USA, ranked by estimated annual revenue as found on Details include company headquarters location, year founded, and brief company summary.

Table 2: Top Frozen Food Suppliers in the USA by Revenue

Top Frozen Food Suppliers in the USA by Revenue—Company Summaries

Nestle USA in Rosslyn, VA, offers frozen food service products including frozen dinners, as well as offering flavor bases and beverages. The company also offers retail products such as entrees, side dishes, ice cream, and dough.

In Minneapolis, MN, General Mills manufactures over 100 brands of retail food products. Its products include baking products, cereal, pastries, fruit, ice cream, pasta, pizza, snacks, meals, pet food, soup, vegetables, yogurt, and spices.

Based in Austin, MN, Hormel Foods Co. supplies frozen meat products for the food service market, including bacon, ham, beef, turkey, chicken, sausages, pepperoni, sliced meat, barbecue, and gyro meat. They also own over 50 brands of consumer retail foods.

Conagra Foodservice in Chicago, IL, owns 16 brands of retail food that include frozen vegetables, desserts, vegetarian entrees, and gluten-free meals. Its food service products include frozen meals, side dishes, ice cream, and breakfast products.

Foods That Should Not Be Flash Frozen

Because they lose flavor, texture, and/or overall quality when frozen, these foods won’t do well with flash freezing:

  • Eggs in shells, whether raw or cooked
  • Cooked egg whites or yolks
  • Custard- or cream-based pies or other desserts with cream fillings
  • Cheese
  • Battered and fried foods
  • Stuffed chops or chicken breasts
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables: Most fresh fruits (with the exception of berries) and vegetables are not suitable for flash freezing. They may be frozen but require specific steps beforehand, such as blanching or packing in water, fruit juice, or syrup.
  • Soups, stews, and other soft or liquid dishes. (These are freezable, but are not an option for flash freezing since they can’t stand on their own on a baking sheet.)

How Long to Freeze Flash-Frozen Food

According to the USDA, food stored at temperatures of 0°F or below will always be safe to eat. That’s because freezing prevents the growth of the microorganisms that cause foodborne illness. However, after time, frozen foods might lose flavor, texture, or overall quality. We recommend sticking within the times suggested here:

  • Baked cookies, slices of cake, fruit pies, quick breads, and yeast breads: 3 months
  • Individual slices of cheesecake: 2 weeks
  • Cooked meats, such as pork chops, chicken breasts, and meat loaf slices: 3 months
  • Berries: 1 year
  • Uncooked ground meat patties: 3 months
  • Uncooked fish and shellfish: 3 months
  • Uncooked steaks, chops, and poultry pieces: 3 to 6 months
  • Unbaked bread and cookie dough: 3 months

When ready to prepare or consume, thaw frozen foods in the refrigerator or microwave, never at room temperature (a few exceptions include breads and sweets that can safely be stored at room temperature). Inspired to go a step further? Make freezer-friendly family meals that are great for weeknight eating, and you’ll have a dinner in a flash on busy evenings.

Foods That Can Be Flash Frozen

Whether raw or cooked, just about any food that comes in individual pieces (or can be broken/cut into individual pieces) can be flash frozen. The best candidates, however, are those foods that freeze well in general and are particularly useful in smaller portions. Here are some examples:

  • Fresh berries, such as blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries
  • Individual portions of meats, such as chicken breast halves, steaks, and hot dogs
  • Cooked or uncooked hamburger patties, meatballs, and bacon slices
  • Fish steaks or fillets, shrimp, and scallops
  • Baked cookies, scones, and muffins
  • Baked bread slices, rolls, and biscuits
  • Unbaked bread dough, shaped into rolls
  • Shaped unbaked cookie dough
  • Individual slices of cake, fruit pie, or cheesecake

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