Mackerel is only fished during a short season in autumn at the same time as the pelagic industry wishes to use mackerel as an ingredient for much of the year. This requires mackerel to be frozen and defrosted for further processing. To produce the best possible quality for defrosting and filleting, the mackerel must be quickly and efficiently frozen without being deformed.

Sales Manager of MMC First Process, Petter Kåre Grytten, explains that they have now developed a system for single freezing and brine freezing of mackerel that makes it better suited to filleting, and in a much more energy efficient way to boot. The brine freezing system’s energy consumption is half that of tunnel freezing of twenty-kilogram packages. The system also requires fewer workers because mackerel that is brine frozen does not become deformed.

‘For efficient filleting, you need mackerel that has not been curved or deformed. The tests have shown that the brine frozen mackerel receives top scores for shape, while around half of the traditionally tunnel frozen mackerel scores less.’

Extended season and increased value creation

The brine freezing system has been developed in collaboration with Pelagia AS, Ukap AS and Møreforsking. The project received funding from the Norwegian Seafood Research Fund (FHF) which endeavours to increase both the degree of processing and value creation in the pelagic industry, under its 'Pelagisk løft' (‘Pelagic boost’) programme.

‘We are delighted about the good results and hope the system can help to increase the pelagic industry’s mackerel processing as well as extending the mackerel season. This is one of several of our research and development projects in collaboration with FHF and the industry, and also here, we can clearly see the benefits of the interaction between users, researchers and us as developers,’ says Grytten.

The system has proved to be very satisfactory in both tests in our own premises and at fish processing plants.

‘The goal of the project has been achieved and we are ready to develop a brine freezer with a production capacity adapted to the industry’s needs. This technology will help the industry to achieve a greater turnover on the production of mackerel fillets and a more even production over a longer season.’

In photo: Petter Kåre Grytten,. Department manager, MMC First Process. Photo: Havyard