Proper cleaning and regular maintenance can help extend a kettle's service life. Here are nine maintenance tips to help foodservice operators get the biggest return on their investments in steam-jacketed kettles.
- Use non-caustic cleaners when washing and sanitizing these units each day. Refrain from using such items as chloride detergents, steel pads, wire brushes and scrapers.
- Regularly lubricate the trunion bearing and test the pressure relief valve every six months to ensure proper operation.
- Promptly replace missing screws in the control cover to ensure water tight seals and reduce the chance of water infiltrating the control box.
- For kettles with a marine latch, make sure it works properly and is not clogged with starch or other sticky food products.
- The compound gauge should be checked before use to make sure it is in the "green zone" and not in the "vent air zone".
- Replenish internal hemi water with distilled water and liqua-phase rust inhibitor or equivalent product when required.
- Change any steam seals on direct-steam kettles once a year or as required by use.
- Periodically check for any pitting or stress fissures as well as any possible leakage.
- Refrain from spraying water directly or indirectly on electrical or gas components during cleaning.
Here are five considerations foodservice operators should take into account when purchasing a steam-jacketed kettle.
Kettle Type: A two-third jacketed kettle is best for slow cooking, but if time is a factor, a fully jacketed kettle provides more heat on the interior surface, which speeds up cooking time.
Usage: Take into account the types of food being cooked and preparation methods when specifying kettles. For example, items like stew may require a 3-inch draw-off valve so bigger food pieces can be accommodated. Options like baskets should be included for operations boiling different types of pasta at one time.
Batch Sizes: Prior to specifying, operators need to determine the products and batch sizes they will cook. It is always best to size up rather than down. Also take into consideration the future needs of the kettle.
Space Availability: Space is a consideration, since these units are typically large. The applications will dictate whether a shallow or low-height kettle is necessary.
Utilities: Determine the available fuel or power source, such as gas or electric, prior to purchasing a kettle. In addition, confirm the floor drain and trough location, hood height and water availability for filling and cleaning when specifying these units.
Newer kettle technologies are more energy efficient and can save operators money over the long term.
Kettles are more energy efficient than alternate cooking methods, due to the transfer of steam energy via conduction and the increased surface area gained by the lined jacketed construction.
Additional options are available per individual manufacturers specifications for digital temperature read outs as well as food cooling in some instances.
Kettles also are available with better ergonomic designs for easier use.