This year we have written many pieces highlighting ways to really optimize your use of your commercial refrigerator, freezer, walk-in, etc. Being so close to the end of the year we have rolled some of the favorites into a tops tips guide here.
Tips for Taking Care of Commercial Refrigeration
Have you ever noticed that little things done right can turn into big benefits? It’s definitely that way in the kitchen, so we have a short list of tips that will help you get the most out of your commercial refrigeration equipment. Teach your employees to follow these tips and you’ll see the benefits pretty quickly.
1. Turn the power off before leaving the door open to load or clean the refrigerator. Whenever staff is propping the door open for an extended period of time without turning the equipment off can make the condenser ice up and this will cause operational problems.
2. Resist the urge to lower the thermostat so that it is lower than the recommended temperature settings. Commercial coolers should usually be set at 38 degrees Fahrenheit so that they will hold food at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or lower so that you are holding food within safe temperature ranges.
3. Prior to moving hot items into the refrigerator, hot foods should be cooled safely. This will conserve energy because you won’t have the hot food elevating the temperature within your refrigerator so that it needs to work to cool everything down, but it ensures that foods pass through the temperature danger zones rapidly enough to eliminate any food safety risks.
4. Use several trays for food within your refrigerator to allow for cold air to circulate over all the products without any hinderance. Ideal trays are 4” deep or less so foods will chill faster.
5. Be sure that you cover all acidic foods including onions and tomatoes. The acid from these foods will circulate through the box and it will settle onto the coils causing deterioration.
6. Check the way you are storing foods to be certain that you are not blocking circulation within the refrigerator.
7. When placing refrigeration equipment in your kitchen layout be sure to keep this away from any food prep or commercial cooking equipment that is a source of heat like an oven or a commercial grill.
Following these easy tips will help you to get the best performance from your commercial refrigeration equipment and prompt staff to pay attention to food safety guidelines for food storage.
Commercial VS Residential Refrigerators
Commercial refrigerators, like other types of foodservice kitchen equipment, are constructed to withstand heavier demands of institutional or restaurant usage. Most commercial refrigerators will have a stainless steel exterior and the interiors will be designed to withstand continual humidity. They can also stand up to acidic foods, like vinegar or tomatoes, that may end up being spilled inside.
Additionally, commercial refrigerators are designed with large, efficient cooling systems to function in the high heat environments of a commercial kitchen. Not only will a commercial refrigerator be able to hold food at safe temperatures, it also allows for them to quickly cool air inside the refrigerator down to safe temperature levels. A residential refrigerator most likely will not be able to keep up with the demands of a foodservice kitchen or hold food at temperature safe levels in the high heat environment of a commercial foodservice operation and this may foster the growth of bacteria opening the door to the risk of foodborne illness and warnings or citations from the health department inspection.
Cook’s carries a variety of commercial refrigerators and commercial freezers from manufacturers including FSE, True, Everest, Continental and more.
Tips for More Efficient Commercial Refrigeration Storage
It’s important for the efficiency of your commercial refrigerator, freezer or walk-in cold storage that it is not overpacked. When a commercial refrigerator or freezer is overpacked, it hinders air circulation and proper airflow is critical to ensure that all foods are cooled evenly without hot spots.
In order to minimize the possibility of cross contamination, meat should be stored on the lowest shelves. This reduces the possibility of juices or marinades from any stored meat to touch other stored foods unintentionally. Food spills in freezers, refrigerators and walk-in refrigerators and walk-in freezers can create multiple opportunities for cross contamination increasing the risk of food borne illnesses.
Produce should be stored away from fans because ethylene is generated by ripening fruits and vegetables and this gas can damage other food products. Placing produce in front of a fan causes the ethylene to be circulated through the cabinet and onto other food items. Additionally, fans have the potential for damaging produce or other delicate items.
Finally, when organizing your commercial cold storage, it’s important to follow a first-in, first-out or FIFO system. When you use a FIFO system, your food inventory will stay as fresh as food possible each time by using the oldest ingredients first and you will reduce the potential for loss of inventory through spoilage.