So-Low Installed

Will Lifting So-Low on Tractor

We just installed the So-Low ultra-low freezer. The addition of fans turns it into a flash freezer or blast freezer. If you want meat, or anything else, to freeze to the maximum quality you do it as fast. Doing it very cold helps too especially when shipping. The So-Low goes down to -121°F. For comparison, dry ice which is made of frozen CO2 is a mere -109°F. This freezer freezes colder than Hell.

Why you might ask is faster better when freezing? What makes Blast Chilling so appealing? It’s simple: when water freezes faster it forms micro-crystals that don’t penetrate the cell walls. This leaves the meat, and even flowers, at a far higher state of quality when they thaw. It also takes them down below the temperatures where any organic activity is happening thus further improving quality. The next level down would be using liquid nitrogen at -195°C but that is beyond what we need, or can do at this time.

Getting the So-Low into the building was a little nerve wracking. It’s bulky and it weighs about 500 lbs. We’ve done this before with the bandsaw and heat pump which are similarly heavy machines but each time it is an adventure. Fortunately, the So-Low has little caster wheels on the bottom which made it a lot easier. The hardest part was the transfer from the tractor’s forks to the little platform on the stoop at the front door. Once we had it through the doorway we just rolled the freezer down the hall to its resting place in the inspector’s office. Easy-peasy.

The reason we got the So-Low is to not just do a better job of freezing meat but also avoid buying dry ice. With dry ice the best I’ve been able to do is push the meat down to -60°F. While the dry ice itself is -109°F you can’t actually get the meat down that cold. It’s always a matter of compromise. However with the So-Low we’ll be able to push the meat all the way down to -121°F inside a special stainless steel carrier. We’ll then transfer it to a pre-chilled insulated box for shipping Kickstarter rewards.

The So-Low is only five cubic feet of chest freezer space. It’s for that quick freeze of about one pig’s worth of meat. I would love to have something like this in a big room size, which they have at big facilities, but that is not cost effective for us. This little lab blast freezer will do what we need. When we build out our final walk in refrigeration and freezer spaces they will not go this cold although there will be a blast section that quick freezes product using a hurricane of wind. Stand out on the mountain in the winter and you’ll get the idea – Skin freezes quickly from exposure to the high winds at low temperatures.

The cost savings of not buying dry ice just for the upcoming Kickstarter shipping will pay for half of the So-Low – the machine cost $5,500. Because the meat will be so much colder I anticipate also being able to use three or four day shipping instead of faster shipping and that will save additional money probably paying for the rest of the So-Low. Additionally, we will save a lot of time not having to go and get dry ice – it’s a two hour trip so there is more savings there. We also lose some dry ice with each trip – sublimation happens.

I expect we’ll see a fairly quick payback for the investment leaving us with a blast freezer that can do a better job of providing high quality for customers.

Outdoors: 15°F/-4°F 2″ Snow
Tiny Cottage: 66°F/62°F

Daily Spark: I went to ask my neighbor for some flour. She asked how much. I suggested half a buttercup.

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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2 Responses to So-Low Installed

  1. anita Evans says:

    Hi Walter, I used to use liquid nitrogen in anther life (when I was a cell biologist) and I would avoid it at all costs! Is the bast freezer to be used for just freezing down smaller cuts before longer storage or just to aid with shipping orders? We’re hoping to attempt a home kill next time and were going to rent a mobile cool room. Should we set this as cold as possible for the whole carcass for a few days, what would you recommend? Thanks for all the giggles, my friend once licked in the inside door of a -20 oC cold room! Silly girl!

    • After the kill you want to let the meat hang in the 30’s for passing through rigor mortis. We dry age a week as that gets us into the sweet zone. Then cut the meat. It will now be easier to cut and of higher quality. When freezing one wants to move through the freezing zone as fast as possible to get the micro-crystals of ice. In a home freezer space the meat out, ideally on metal pans, rather than clumping it together. Moving the air around with a fan helps achieve more convection cooling.

      You have a silly friend. I bet she learned a lesson!

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