The menu will help determine if a foodservice operation requires a blast chiller and, if so, the appropriate size. More delicate food like bakery items may be better suited for a softer, more gradual chill process, while meat and other heartier products can withstand a hard chill that brings food temperatures down to an almost frozen state more quickly.
An operation’s specific chilling needs also must be determined prior to purchasing a unit. Blast chilling food can reduce the temperature of cooked product quickly as well as assist in maintaining safe product temperatures throughout the preparation cycle. Blast chilling not only helps maintain product temperature and minimize the potential of overcooking, but it also helps extend product life.
Operators should determine food volume before deciding which size unit best suits their needs. Blast chiller sizes correspond with the number of pounds the unit can accommodate at one time. Countertop blast chillers hold between three and five pans, while roll-in units can hold more than 200 pounds of food. One common mistake operators make is utilizing too big of a pan for blast chilling product. This can compromise the cooling process as the cold air won’t properly infiltrate the center of the pan.
Check availability when specifying a blast chiller. This will help determine if countertop, stand-alone units, roll-in or a reach-in model best suits the application. High-volume operations may be best served with roll-in units or a blast chilling room built into a walk-in.
Keep in mind clearance when designating a spot for this equipment. Like all refrigeration equipment, proper space is needed around the blast chiller for ventilation.
Operators can decide whether self-contained or remote condensing units work best for their applications. Although some blast chillers require drain connections, catering operations may find that a model with built-in defrost capabilities, which eliminates condensation on condenser coils, works best.
Chilling product with these systems is much different than simply placing food in a refrigeration unit. As a result, accomplishing this process may be more challenging in foodservice operations with entry-level employees or high staff turnover. These units require training for those working with this equipment in terms of how to size, shape and package the food prior to the chilling process.