Abstract: New freezing methods developed with the purpose of improved product quality after thawing can sometimes be difficult to get accepted in the market. The reason for this is the formation of ice crystals that can give the product a temporary color loss and make it less appealing. We have here used microscopy to study ice crystal size as a function of freezing temperature by investigating the voids in the cell tissue left by the ice crystals. We have also investigated how freezing temperature affects the color and the visible absorption spectra of frozen salmon. Freezing temperatures previously determined to be the best for quality after thawing (–40 to –60 °C) were found to cause a substantial loss in perceived color intensity during frozen state. This illustrated the conflict between optimal freezing temperatures with respect to quality after thawing against visual appearance during frozen state. Low freezing temperatures gave many small ice crystals, increased light scattering and an increased absorption level for all wavelengths in the visible region. Increased astaxanthin concentration on the other hand would give higher absorption at 490 nm. The results showed a clear potential of using visible interactance spectroscopy to differentiate between poor product coloration due to lack of pigmentation and temporary color loss due to light scattering by ice crystal. This type of measurements could be a useful tool in the development of new freezing methods and to monitor ice crystal growth during frozen storage. It could also potentially be used by the industry to prove good product quality.
Practical Application: In this article we have shown that freezing food products at intermediate to low temperatures (–40 to –80 °C) can result in paler color during frozen state, which could affect consumer acceptance. We have also presented a spectroscopic method that can separate between poor product color and temporary color loss due to freezing.