There is a huge assortment of restaurant ice machine on the market these days. Selecting the right one for your business is about more than just finding the one that fits the space. You have to consider your restaurant’s needs to determine which unit will work best. Here is a quick guide explaining what to look for in an ice machine.
Type of Ice
Ice can be made into several different shapes, so you need to get the machine that makes the shape you want. The two most common forms of ice are cube ice and flake ice, which are used in drinking glasses. Another less common form of ice is nugget ice, which is the kind you might find in bags at a gas station. Consider your desired shape of ice and get an ice maker that accommodates that.
Air Cooled vs. Water Cooled
Your ice maker will either be air cooled or water cool. Air cooled units take in air from their surroundings and use that to keep their temperatures low. Water cooled units pull water from a separate water line and use that to cool the interior. Air cooled units are usually cheaper than water cooled units, but they are also louder to operate. Water cooled units use less electricity than air cooled models, but they also use more water. You will need to weigh the pros and cons to determine what you need.
Make sure you buy an ice machine that can handle the workload you’re giving it. If you go through 300 pounds of ice a day, you won’t benefit from a device that produces 200 pounds maximum. Of course, larger output units are going to cost more, but at least they will get the job done. As with anything in the restaurant business, function trumps price every time.
Do you need your ice maker to act as a bin or dispenser? If so, you will need to factor that into your selection. You can easily get an ice machine that has a dispenser or bin built into it. You could also buy the bin separately and just place the machine on top. This is a good idea if you need your bin to be a specific width and height.
Consider all of your options before buying an ice machine, and you will get years of use out of your device.
By Lee Davis
I’d like to share a story with you about a friend we’ll call “Tom” who was recently hired as a prep cook-trainee at the local family restaurant in town. Early on during his time there, Tom was told to thaw six chickens. Tom went to the freezer, retrieved the frozen birds, placed them neatly on a sheet pan and left them on the prep counter. Later the chef walked by and explained to Tom that the birds needed to be thawed in the walk-in, not the prep area. So Tom took the tray into the walk-in and put it on the third shelf up.
Thawing frozen meat in a refrigerator is an important “best practice” for anyone, but especially foodservice operators. Frozen meat left out on a counter runs the risk of entering the “temperature danger zone,” a range between 41 ̊F to 135 ̊F (5 ̊C to 57 ̊C) where bacteria grow particularly well. But merely putting frozen meat in the refrigerator is not enough.
Two days later when Tom went to retrieve the chickens for butchering, he noticed debris from a produce box had fallen onto the chickens, and the chickens had been sitting in their own thawed juices for two days. When he moved the pan, the juices spilled down over several other containers of food that had to be discarded.
What Tom needed was a Cambro Safe Thawing Kit, or at least that’s what Patricia Guerrero, Food Safety Expert for Cambro, calls it. She explains that a Safe Thawing Kit consists of a Cambro Camwear® Food Storage Box, a like-sized Cambro Camwear® Colander Pan and a Camwear® Sliding Lid™. Guerrero went on to explain just how simple the kit is to use. For Tom all he would have had to do is drop the colander in the food box, place the frozen meat into the colander, and cover it all with the sliding lid. Then place it on the bottom shelf of the walk-in. Thawing juices drain down through the colander and spills are virtually impossible, unless the food box is turned over or damaged. The meat doesn’t sit in its own juices and everything is safely covered and contained. The sliding top allows easy access without moving the box from the shelf.
This is really a new application for products operators may already have in their kitchen but have been using for other purposes. All the components are available from Cambro together or separately. They all come in 18″x26″ or 12″x18″ sizes and have many uses. For more on food safety best practices with Cambro, visit www.cambro.com.