If you’re tackling food waste in your establishment you’ve probably already waded through your fair share of how-to guides on the subject.
What’s harder to find, however, is the inside line on the tools that can really help you get the job done.
To that end, we’ve pooled our knowledge and asked some of our top equipment and design partners to wade in on the subject.
Blast chilling is really coming into its own as a game changer in the commercial kitchen. Its value for tackling food waste and improving returns is seeing it become a cornerstone asset everywhere from local patisseries to the kitchen at Google.
At their core, blast chillers freeze food so rapidly that the size of the ice crystals in the freezing process is reduced. The smaller the crystals, the less chance there is for the food to be damaged.
The results don’t just hold in the flavour and smell of the food, they allow it to be stored safely for longer. It’s for this reason that blast chillers are becoming increasingly common mainstays in modern commercial kitchens.
Put simply, you don’t have to make as much food to create the same income.
"A typical investment by a small to medium-sized café in a 25Kg IRINOX blast chiller, used in the right way, should result in payback within 6 months"
Given the amount of food which is prepped and then wasted every day, a blast chiller can have a tantalisingly short payback period depending on the volume of food you produce.
Richard Bennett is SKOPE’s Technical Product Manager for IRINOX, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of blast chillers.
“Blast Chilling or shock freezing allows for much faster cooling with far greater benefits over traditional methods,” he says.
“The IRINOX Multi Fresh range, for example, prevents the proliferation of bacteria, retains freshness, taste, colour, appearance and quality of foods for much longer.”
The speed and method of IRINOX cooling also assists any food business in their daily production planning by allowing for reduced hours, labour and energy costs with very little waste.
“A typical investment by a small to medium-sized café in a 25Kg IRINOX blast chiller, used in the right way, should result in payback within 6 months,” Richard says.
SKOPE - The Irinox Blast Chiller range
“I'll never forget something an executive chef said to me during a job interview,” says Brodie Hiller, Project Consultant at Hiller, one of Queensland’s top food service specialists.
“He said the most under-rated appliances in a kitchen today are blast chillers and vacuum sealers.”
Brodie is part of the Hiller Fitout Team and has 15 years’ experience advising Queensland food service businesses about the essential equipment they need in their kitchens.
“Simply put, once the benefits of these two products are truly understood first hand, it's very difficult to go without them.”
"External vacuum sealers are a great budget option, however, I regularly recommend a commercial grade chamber model"
Vacuum sealing preserves your food product anywhere between two to six times longer by removing the air and sealing it for storage. It stops freezer burn and prevents cross-contamination.
But vacuum sealing really comes into its own when it’s combined with a blast chiller and freezer. The vacuum sealer can dramatically cut down on labour and food wastage by enabling you to batch prepare weeks of food at once while controlling portions to suit your specific food service times and volumes.
“External vacuum sealers are a great budget option, however, I regularly recommend a commercial grade chamber model” Brodie says.
“Chamber vacuum sealers allow for the use of liquids, larger sizes and quantities, and provide the option of a gas-flush for enhanced food safety. Vacuum Sealers also open the door to methods like marinating under pressure - reducing the process from hours to minutes - and the world of sous-vide cooking.”
Hiller Supply - Orved Evox 31 High Line Vacuum Sealer
Let’s get down to brass tacks. In fact, let’s get right into the corners of the issue by discussing the value of going with Gastronorm.
Gastronorm – or GN as it’s often referred to – is a system of measurement for containers. But for something so small and so simple it has a big impact on reducing food waste.
How? It just helps you maximize every square centimetre in your fridge, freezer and oven.
Originally a Swiss system, it took off in the 1970s after it was adopted in other European countries and is now the global standard outside of the US. Bakers often prefer another system called Euronorm, but by and large Gastronorm is the universal bar used by all the top kitchen equipment manufacturers.
"When it comes to safely and productively squeezing in as much food as possible into your key kitchen equipment, then the use of Gastronorm pans in any kitchen is a must"
It’s easy to understand, so measuring how much food you can preserve at any one time becomes a breeze, and it also features standard cut-out and grid sizes for easy serving estimates.
“When it comes to safely and productively squeezing in as much food as possible into your key kitchen equipment, then the use of Gastronorm pans in any kitchen is a must” says Chef Peter Arnold, Reward Hospitality Equipment Category Manager.
Chef Arnold further states, “Be it cooking, chilling, blast freezing, storing, serving from, or transporting in, all credible equipment manufacturers make their products GN-compatible, so it’s a very versatile system to adopt when figuring out how to efficiently run your kitchen.”
The Gastronorm pan replaces in many cases the need for other pots/pans and storage containers.
If used productively, the GN pan can be used to cook in, then the same GN pan is transferred to the blast chiller, then is lidded for storage in a GN pan rack in the coldroom, then is later regenerated once again in the same GN pan, and potentially even served from the same pan.
Combine the use of the GN pan with labour saving devices such as the pansaver panliners from Reward Hospitality, and the wash-up of the GN pan at the end of this cycle is even minimised to it’s greatest degree.
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