In the early days of seafood production fish quality was a lesser priority than actual harvesting. Over the years technology has improved, innovations have appeared, and the handling and processing of seafood has come a long way. Pughs have given way to brailer bags, and quality pumps have made the transfer of fish rapid and less prone to handling damage. As fish populations around the world decrease, and in order to make fish-farming completely sustainable, both wild and commercial resources must be managed more efficiently. We must get the most out of each and every harvest.
Early methods of preserving seafood used air, salt, and smoke to allow the consumption of seafood when freshness waned. With refrigeration, freezers and ice-generating machines came new and exciting opportunities for preservation. And over time consumers have become educated and more aware of these quality issues, and the benefits of proper preservation. They have come to expect… and demand… better quality. But they are also willing to pay for this, and with improved quality, the fishermen, processors, and retailers alike have all seen profits rise.
Quality is King
Whether the fish or shellfish goes into a can or is flown directly from Alaska’s Copper River fishing grounds to dinner tables in the Pacific Northwest, the condition of the product is of paramount concern in today’s industry. Quality is king.
Snaebjorn Tr. Gudnason, the inventor of NanoICE, comes from a fishing family, and he clearly saw the need for better preservation practices as a means to producing better quality fish. Using a proprietary ice-making method, he developed a revolutionary system which delivers ice particles so fine you can leave your fingerprint on them. The ice fractions are two to three orders of magnitude smaller than the finest slurry or sherbert ice. The benefits and potential ramifications of this invention came to light through rigorous testing on the fishing grounds of the North Atlantic.
Skippers of cod vessels were used to trips lasting 3 – 5 days. This was the limit they could remain at sea for the cod to be fresh upon delivery. For our tests they were to stay at sea until the vessel was full. One tote of fish was shoveled with flake ice. All other totes were pumped full of NanoICE and left for the duration of the trip… 14 days. At delivery, the fish kept in nanoICE were of dramatically better quality. They looked like they had just been pulled from the water. Weight loss through lipid oxidization and drip loss was reduced from a normal 7% - 9% to less than 1%.
The fish held in flake ice shows scale damage, physical degradation from contact with the ice, and gives an unpleasant visual impression. Fish of the same age held in nanoICE looks like it has just come out of the water. The scales are intact and vibrant, and the visual image reflects what is happening… retention of moisture and proteins… which translates directly into flavor.
This salmon, harvested by gillnet off the Pacific Northwest coast and put in flake ice for three days, shows bacterial infection evidenced by a slight discoloration of the flesh. There is a small pool of “drip loss”, which in actuality is largely protein, not inconsequential water. The fin has slipped down and pulled away from the flesh, revealing the onset of dehydration and enzymatic breakdown. The salmon similarly harvested and covered in nanoICE for the same period looks, again, like it just came out of the water. The flesh is red with perfect marbling, there is no drip loss, and the fin is in its original position. The rapid cooling, due to the cold temperature and ability of the extremely small nanoICE particles to establish immediate contact with the salmon’s entire surface, results in a fish held in a state of “freshness”. The visual effect reflects what is occurring biologically.
The nanoICE Machine was Launched
The plan was simple but challenging; take the revolutionary technology developed by Snaebjorn, test it repeatedly under harsh conditions, engineer units which would work under varying circumstances and a broad range of demands, and then make sure we were competitive in pricing and logistics. Our machines have been tested both onboard vessels at sea and in state-of-the-art facilities which can simulate hurricane force storms, earthquakes, and a range of temperatures from -40F to 120F. We wanted the machines to fail first under our testing regimes, so we can design them to withstand real conditions. Add in a dedicated and responsive customer service ethic, and nanoICE was launched.
The nanoICE machines have been sized to fit different needs. nanoICE machines can produce refrigerated seawater (RSW) and nanoICE particles simultaneously (except for the 1 and 2 ton machines, which can do both, but not at the same time). This capability allows the user to choose the right medium for the volume and temperature desired. More volume is possible with RSW for a given time period, but the temperature will be warmer and the benefits reduced from those nanoICE can provide. In this picture we see nanoICE being generated at 15%, 25% and 40%.
The small size of nanoICE particles allows for increased contact with the surface of fish or shellfish, and results in dramatically reduced times for lowering product temperature. This translates into an effective impediment to bacteria, both through temperature and the actual physical barriers nanoICE presents.
The onset of rigor mortis can be delayed significantly by rapid cooling, providing greatly extended times for effective storage before processing, with minimal quality reduction.
Freshness is Ensured
With small units capable of being placed on 30’ vessels, individual fishermen and women can hold fish longer, and ensure freshness for their catch. Tenders with larger units can do the same with delivered fish. Onshore processors can hold fish in pristine condition until they are ready to process, eliminating limits such as those imposed on Bristol Bay fishermen during the season’s peak.
At-sea processors can also schedule processing for optimum times. Labor effort is significantly reduced with no need for shoveling flake ice. New transportation alternatives open, as shipping by ground rather than air (and yet still retaining freshness) becomes possible, potentially reducing the costs of moving product by $1/pound. Retail outlets can keep seafood fresh, at its visual best, and sell the absolute highest quality products to their customers.
The impact on seafood quality that we’ve seen from the use of nanoICE particles is truly revolutionary. It holds the same potential for meats and produce, as well as a whole host of other uses.
Contact the sales office at (888) nanoICE or (425) 984-6050, and we can discuss how nanoICE can help improve the quality of your products.