With temperature-controlled food holding, hot food can be safely held for long periods of time utilizing technology that helps retain food quality.
Operators of all types use temperature-controlled food holding equipment, or hot holding cabinets, for hot food staging, to supplement production and for pickup stations. Operators also can increase food production using less equipment since these units safely hold hot food while freeing up cooking devices.
Today’s equipment helps retain food quality while preventing degradation, allowing items to stay hot and fresh for hours at a time. By preparing food in advance, operators can better prepare for busy serving periods.
Adhering to HACCP guidelines, these units hold food at more than 140 degrees F to decrease the potential for bacterial growth and foodborne illness.
Cabinet sizes vary from small portable units that accommodate 2 hotel-size pans to full-size units that can hold up to 32 sheet pans and large banquet models that can accommodate up to 160 pre-plated meals.
This equipment comes in countertop, undercounter, half-size, three-quarter size, full-size and double-wide formats. Operators can choose from reach-in or roll-in models, depending on the application. Volume and production process will determine the most appropriate interior configuration. These units accommodate sheet pans, steam table pans, roasting pans, wire baskets and wire shelving for pre-plated meals.
A choice of cabinet construction materials is
available. This includes stainless steel, aluminum or a combination of both materials. While stainless is a denser material that is easier to clean, aluminum can be less costly and is more lightweight for easier food transporting. Operators can also choose from doors that are solid, Dutch or windowed. Models offer either digital displays or solid state thermostats.
When specifying temperature-controlled food
holding equipment, operators can choose from three types of heating technology. One option is convection, which utilizes fans and blowers to force air into the cabinet at various cubic feet per minute. These cabinets are designed for holding battered, breaded and fried foods. Temperature-controlled food holding equipment with radiant systems utilize heated fluids or wires. Heat radiates from the side walls, base and sometimes shelves. This gentler heat is best used for vegetables, bread and other starches that need to be kept moist.
The third heating system incorporates either
convection or radiant heat along with humidity from a water tank or bain-marie built into the cabinet’s base. This creates a controlled humidity environment to hold moist foods, such as those that are smoked or baked. The humidification feature also helps maintain food quality by balancing the environment’s moisture, ensuring that food retains its natural juices.
Operators may also choose from Energy Star-rated units that promise to reduce utility consumption, among other benefits.