The first four stages of cook-freeze are the same as cook-chill, namely bulk storage, preparation, cooking and portioning, packaging and labelling. The fifth stage is blast-freezing. Pre-cooked, lidded packs are loaded onto trolleys which are wheeled into tunnel-type blast-freezing which reduce the temperature to -20°C in less than 90 minutes. Rapid freezing is essential to avoid the formation of large ice crystals which result in poor texture and loss of nutritional value on regeneration. The frozen containers are kept at -20°C and may be stored for up to 12 months.
The exact number of meals required can be removed from the storage on demand and forced-air convection ovens.