Flake Ice Generation

Experts claim that fresh fish loses one entire day of shelf live for every hour that it remains uncooled. An ice bed made of flake ice is therefore ideal intermediate storage. For cooling of freshly caught fish on board, GEA ice machines produce flake ice from freshwater or seawater. For smaller trawlers or fishing ships, investments in energy-efficient and long-life ice machines pay off handsomely.

Ice engineering excellence

GEA is the first manufacturer of ice machines in Europe. With more than 40 products, it is the largest range available on the market - from 350 kg to 50 tons per day. Designed according to a simple principle, the machines benefit from over fifty years’ technical experience and a continuous policy of development, for unbeatable quality. 

The generators are at the heart of the GEA technology. The design is based on a static cylinder with few moving parts and no rotary seals. The cylinder is fully insulated. This means that all the refrigeration is transferred directly to the water. The reamer harvests the ice continuously with a slow and smooth motion.

Main advantages of the flake ice generation from GEA are:
• Dry and subcooled ice, economical to produce and easy to handle
• Stationary and insulated cylinder
• Few mechanical constraints
• Optimum thermal exchange
• Compatible with all the modern refrigerants
• Food compatibility
• CE and ASME compliant.

With its strong reputation of quality and competitiveness, GEA offers global ice-solutions including production, storage, management, distribution and delivery.

Placed “on ice” in the truest sense

Trawler

It’s not on all fishing ships that the fish are gutted, dressed, frozen, or further processed on board. For such smaller fishing ships or cutters that must keep the catch cool during the entire voyage, GEA offers the matching product portfolio. And flexibility is likewise in demand here: some fishing boats leave port in early morning and return to their home port on the same day. Others are underway for days on end. To maintain freshness quality in any case, the catch should be immediately cooled to around 0 °C / 32 °F. There are two solutions possible here: the ice is either loaded on board when the ship leaves the harbor, or the ice is produced on the ship as needed.

This all sounds easy enough, but it demands considerable expertise. Ice machines dedicated to this purpose cool water in a vertical cylinder until it freezes on the inner wall. The ice is scraped off and falls into an ice container located below. The flake ice gained in this way is ideal for use on the high seas, especially since it is “fish-friendly”.

Despite the name “flake ice”, the small curved pieces of ice have no sharp corners – which protects the thin, delicate skin of a fish. Flake ice is even softer on fish skin when it has been made from seawater: the salt content makes the ice even “softer”. In addition, fish does not swell when it is stored on ice. The cool mass has just the right consistency – not too hard and not too liquid – and can be easily handled on a ship, since it can be heaped up.

Cold: yes. Too cold: no. There is a temperature below which fish cannot be stored. Otherwise, dreaded freezer burn will take place and will rob seafood of its taste and its attractive color. The purpose of the ice, however, is not only to keep the fish at a particular temperature. As the ice slowly melts, this automatically washes the fish – and the natural mucous layer and the moisture of the skin will remain.

Ensuring that good things reach the customer in good shape

Flake ice

The eyes eat along as well. On board a trawler or cutter, the optical aspect plays no major role – but at the fish counter in a supermarket or fish store, fresh seafood just has to look good. Appetizing and clean as a whistle – when these characteristics prevail for goods offered at the fish counter, then gourmets will not hesitate to choose.

For this reason, flake and slurry ice have for many years played a major role at the fish counters of supermarkets. GEA can claim the same: for example, GEA has equipped several stores of the French supermarket chain Leclerc with ice machines. The advantages of this kind of ice are apparent: it can be easily formed and distributed. It does not form clumps, and it does not stick. Specialized sales persons find it easy to give their products an attractive ambience – one that lasts the whole day and does not shrink to an unappealing mass. Sales staff can model little ice hills or valleys – and can attractively arrange each fish, each clam, and each shellfish so as to appeal to the appetite of their clientele. In addition, staff can form a sales surface sloping toward the customer, so that he or she can optimally inspect the delicacies. Elements purely serving for decoration can also have a stable base in the ice. No basket with clams will fall over, nothing will collapse, and none of the items on sale will slide apart.

The pure white of the ice flakes naturally forms a charming contrast to the vivid colors of the seafood on display – an effect that should not be underestimated in effective presentation of goods. A dash of psychology is also involved here: after all, in most cultural circles, the color white has long symbolized cleanliness and purity. Flake ice has a temperature of around - 7 °C / 19.4 °F and melts much slower than other types of ice. The continuous rinsing of the seafood with meltwater reduces the formation of microorganisms. The ice is relatively dry, but still moist enough to prevent the fish from drying out. The thin and delicate ice flakes also guarantee that the sensitive skin of fish remain intact, and that neither pressure points nor freezer burn will compromise quality. With these benefits, flake ice represents the perfect basis for healthy freshness that lasts and lasts – and eventually supports solid business relations between fishmongers and their customers.

Every morning, seafood salespersons must provide fresh ice for their displayed wares. Staff of Leclerc supermarket in France have it particularly convenient in this sense. They often have access to an ice dispenser over the counter – they simply press a button, a flap opens, and the ice falls directly to the counter where it is needed. This sophisticated technology saves ice transport in special vehicles, and it eliminates the need to shovel ice. This means fast and hygienic work: the less the ice must be handled, the less the danger of contamination of the ice by staff and tools (such as shovels). But it is not possible to implement such technical sophistication in all supermarkets: no one shop is identical to another. But GEA can in any case offer ice at the push of a button – even if ice maker and ice storage are a few steps away.