Operators should keep in mind a number of factors when purchasing a steamer to ensure it can meet the operation’s cooking and heating needs.
Operators should first identify those items currently on the menu that are steamed and potential future menu items that will require steaming. Operators should determine each serving’s portion size, the number of servings per pan that will be necessary during each production cycle. It’s important to look at the current production time for steamed items on the menu, then figure out the desired production time with a new unit and see how many 2-inch-deep pans are needed per compartment to produce the necessary number of portions/servings per pan.
Operators should carefully consider the advantages and disadvantages of the different types of steamers. For example, pressure steamers are best suited for large foodservice operations as these units handle large food quantities, cook at a higher heat and pressure, and are faster than a convection steamer. This type is recommended for starchy foods like potatoes as well as for meat. Be aware that these steamers can be pricey and are not as easy to use as pressureless steamers. These units also are not designed for delicate foods like fish and vegetables due to the cavity’s high-pressure atmosphere. Also, the doors cannot be opened during the cooking process.
By contrast, convection steamers are capable of producing higher-quality results due to lower cooking temperatures, which can preserve more of the nutrients, moisture and texture of food that is being prepared. These units can accommodate more delicate items as well. Other advantages include no taste transfer, affordable purchase and operating prices, and the ability to check on food during cooking. However, operators will need to contend with longer cooking times and typically smaller capacities with lower volume.