Think all you want that blast chillers are for specialty restaurants and hi-speed services. With great increases in food contamination, this equipment is steadfastly becoming a necessity for any establishment. What exactly does a blast chiller do?
First, a little history about food contamination, which is based on the relationship of time and temperature. The longer food sits at improper temperatures, the more prone it becomes to causing illness. Without strict regulation of quick-cooling foods, restaraunteurs and caterers risk hefty fees and payouts for violations and medical bills.
Many food handlers (especially lower-paid non-professionals – that is, people who are not establishing a career in the food service industry) lack appropriate training. They, along with many managers, know little more than what most every does: cooked foods should not sit at room temperature.
The Department of Health guidelines call for temperatures to be reduced from approximately 158°F (70°C) to 37°F (3°C) in 90 minutes or less. It’s a vastly different guideline than years back, where times of up to 4 hours were considered acceptable.
Unfortunately, standard walk-in or reach-in refrigerators, though a staple for every food business, cannot cool foods quickly enough. It can take up to 5 hours for a 2"-deep steam table pan of broth to reach the ideal temperature. The deeper the pan, the longer it takes.
How Blast Chillers Work
Unlike refrigerators, which rely on refrigerant liquid circulating cooling bars and fans which evenly spread cool air throughout the cabinet. Of course, commercial refrigerators are harder-working and better insulated, built to withstand frequent door opening. Freezers best work with food that is already chilled, as introducing hot food to sub-zero temperatures can cause damage to all other food contents.
A blast chiller fiercly drives cold air throughout a tightly sealed cabinet. They use significantly more powerful compressors than like-size refrigation units. While they’re more expensive, they can actually save money by allowing larger batches of food to be pre-made.
A blast chiller is a temporary holding place for food. Once the food is chilled to the proper temperature, it is transferred to either refrigerator or freezer. This means the size of the unit needed is commonly much smaller than it’s sister storage cabinets.
Blast chillers have varying features, and some offer all of the following:
- Blast Chilling – chills foods by generating single-digit temperatures to bring food temperatures down in about 90 minutes
- Soft Chilling – chills foods using lower temperatures; ideal for foods that need special care
- Shock Freezing – by using temperatures sometimes -40°F, the goal is to reduce a food’s temperature to 0°F; the process allows food to be stored for longer time periods
- Holding – this cycle holds food at a specific temperature, though it’s not cost effective to use it for this method for prolonged periods of time
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