The University of Missouri Bradford Research Center, the USDA and the Missouri Department of Agriculture want to help local growers expand the marketability of farm-fresh produce. We offer a mobile, shared-use, 195-square-foot approved commercial kitchen to prepare and flash freeze farm-fresh produce.
The flash-freeze/kitchen unit is a gooseneck cargo trailer about 8 feet wide and 31 feet long, designed and built in 2011. It is equipped with:
- Commercial blast freezer with 15 trays that flash-freezes produce at a very low temperature
- Back door that opens, has a screened curtain, and ramp
- 4-prong 220-volt plug or generator to provide electricity
- Standard ¾“ water inlet (150 ft. garden hose),
- On-demand hot water heater
- RV effluent pump with 200’ drainage hose
- 4-burner electric countertop range
- 3-bay sink
- Hand sink
- 50 square feet of stainless steel work surface
- Stainless steel pots, sheet pans, and utensils
- Chest freezer
- Cleaning supplies for sanitizing the workspace before (recommended) and after (required) use
- Farmers benefit from flash freezing by getting a financial return on crops they can’t easily sell due to slight imperfections or over-production.
- Consumers benefit from flash-frozen foods because they have an extended amount of time to consume local produce and the frozen foods have a higher nutritional value than many foods preserved with high heat.
- The flash-freeze unit can be used by local growers at Bradford Research Center located at 4968 Rangeline Road, Columbia, Mo., or on-site at Missouri farms.
- A link to your website on the Mobile Flash Freezer website, your logo and contact information displayed in the kitchen, and mentions of your business via social media.
Although the Mobile Flash Freezer Trailer is an approved commercial kitchen, each client is responsible for obtaining the licenses and permits necessary to legally operate. Please contact your local County Department of Health for further information about food safety and kitchen certification.
New clients will need to provide:
- Copies of the necessary licenses, certificates and proof of insurance at the time of orientation.
- Signed application and Facility Rental Agreement.
- $200 refundable deposit. This will be used for any damage to the trailer, equipment or fixtures, or a commercial cleaning service if the facility is not cleaned in a satisfactory manner.
All new clients must schedule a tour/orientation with the research specialist; please call 573-884-7945 and ask for Kerry Clark or email Kerry at firstname.lastname@example.org. After the initial meeting, clients will have access to an online calendar to reserve the mobile flash freezer or can call 573-884-7945. Reserve only the time you need, at times convenient for you.
- Usage costs will be dependent on your use and market. Contact us to find out more.
- Costs will low enough to make the kitchen affordable for all Missouri farmers/gardeners.
- If used at Bradford Research Center, costs will be to cover electric and water usage.
- If used off-site there will be a small charge for wear and tear on trailer.
- A check-out/in fee of $20 will be charged.
- Trailer must be returned clean with all equipment intact or deductions will be made to deposit.
Tips for Safe Food Handling and Freezing
Bacteria: There are two kinds of foodborne bacteria: One that spoils your food and one that makes you sick. It’s good to be familiar with both, but it is critical that you follow safe food handling practices to keep the second one at bay. Bacteria can spread throughout the kitchen and get on hands, cutting boards, knives and countertops. Frequent cleaning can keep that from happening.
- Wash hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds before and after food handling.
- Use disposable towels for drying.
- Clean and sanitize cutting boards and utensils in a 3-bay system after each use.
- Keep countertops clean by washing with hot, soapy water immediately after preparing food.
Quality: The quality of frozen foods depends on the quality of the fresh produce and how it is handled from the time it is picked until it is ready to eat. It is important:
- To get the product from the garden to the freezer in as short a time as possible.
- To start with high-quality produce, as freezing will not improve the product’s quality.
- To blanch and promptly cool most vegetables, except herbs and green peppers, for freezing.
To prevent contamination of produce by spoilage organisms, wash thoroughly, always keep equipment, work surfaces and personnel clean.
Freezing: Freezing is one of the easiest and least time consuming methods of food preservation. Most food retain their natural color, flavor and texture better than when other methods of food preservation are used. In addition, the kitchen remains cool and comfortable during the process.
Freezing does not destroy spoilage organisms; it merely stops their growth. During the freezing process, microbial growth can occur under the following circumstances:
- When freezing does not occur rapidly.
- When freezer temperature is above 0 degrees F.
Always refrigerate perishable food within 2 hours — 1 hour when the temperature is above 90 degrees F. Check the temperature of your refrigerator and freezer with an appliance thermometer. The refrigerator should be at 40 degrees F (4.4 degrees C) and the freezer at 0 degrees F (-17.7 degrees C) or below.
Cleaning: Wash fresh produce under cold running tap water to remove any lingering dirt. This also reduces bacteria that may be present. Firm produce (like apples or potatoes) can be scrubbed with a brush. Don’t wash fruits or vegetables with detergent or soap. These products are not approved for use on food. You could ingest residues from soap or detergent absorbed by the produce. Remove and throw away bruised or damaged portions of fruits and vegetables when preparing.
Enzymes: Enzymes present in produce help to ripen the fruit. However, after harvest, reactions continue and result in changes in quality including flavor, color, texture and nutrition. For the best preservation, it is important to stop the enzyme activity before freezing!
- Fruit is typically prepared using ascorbic acid (Vitamin C). The acidic solution is effective in preventing discoloration, preserving flavor and adding nutritive value.
- When preparing fruit, do not use galvanized, copper or iron equipment. The fruit acid could react with the metals to form harmful compounds or off-flavors.
Blanching and prompt cooling are necessary steps in preparing practically every vegetable to slow or stop the enzyme action.
- If vegetables are not heated enough, the enzymes continue to be active during frozen storage and may cause the vegetables to toughen or develop off-flavors and colors.
- Blanching also wilts of softens vegetables, making them easier to pack.
- Blanching destroys some bacteria and helps remove any remaining surface dirt.
After vegetables are heated, cool quickly and thoroughly to stop the cooking.
- To cool vegetables heated in boiling water or steam, plunge the basket of vegetables immediately into a large quantity of cold water 60 degrees F or below.
- Change water frequently or use cold running or iced water.
- Use about 1 pound of ice for each pound of vegetables.
- It takes about as long to cool the produce as to heat it.
- When the vegetables are cooled, remove from the water, drain and dry thoroughly.
- Prompt and complete cooling are important to stop the cooking process and help prevent dangerous bacteria growth. Remember the danger zone is between 41-140 degrees F.
Quality for Keeps: Freezing Basics: http://extension.missouri.edu/p/GH1501
Quality for Keeps: Freezing Fruits: http://extension.missouri.edu/p/GH1502
Quality for Keeps: Freezing Vegetables: http://extension.missouri.edu/p/gh1503
Quality for Keeps: Freezing Unusual Fruits and Vegetables: http://extension.missouri.edu/p/GH1507
Food Manager Training: http://www.gocolumbiamo.com/Health/Food_Safety/training_summary.php
Food Safety Training Video: http://www.gocolumbiamo.com/Health/Environmental_Health/food-safety-video.php
Missouri Business Portal: http://business.mo.gov/
Columbia, MO Business License: http://www.gocolumbiamo.com/Finance/buslic.php
Boone County Merchant License: http://www.showmeboone.com/collector/merchantappprocess.asp