Consultant Q&A with Juan Martinez, principal and founder of Profitality, Miami
FE&S: What are the main considerations when purchasing a food rethermalizer?
JM: Operators need to decide on the menu items being retheramlized, how best to accomplish this, how much capacity they require, the price or budget and the space available in the kitchen for the equipment. Combis and cook-and-hold ovens are pricier than water-bath rethermalizers.
FE&S: Are there limitations in terms of applications for the different types of rethermalizers?
JM: From a functional and cost perspective, water baths are the easiest and most economical way to rethermalize products. This method can be used in all types and sizes of operations but typically can’t be used with all types of products, such as breaded food. Some contend this rethermalization method is preferable for vegetables as opposed to certain meats, but it depends on the individual unit’s capabilities. Steamers are best for retherming meat and vegetables together.
FE&S: What are the heating times and quality considerations with the different units?
JM: With combi and cook-and-hold ovens, if the intent is to retherm to order, it is more difficult than with a water bath. These units need to work harder to get items back to proper temperatures. Combis use steam to retherm since the convection mode will dry out food. Steaming is a soft way to heat but takes more time, so it wouldn’t be recommended if retherming to order. This method is better for batch reheating a large number of items that will be held hot before serving. Also, combi retherming isn’t recommended if large batches of different items requiring different reheating temperatures need to be prepared.
FE&S: Are there other aspects of rethermalizers that operators should consider?
JM: These units are driven by capacity and application as well as demand, so operators need to look at the different settings of retherm ovens to ensure these can meet their needs. Because products have different heating time requirements, this can wreak havoc with the production schedule, so it’s important to plan accordingly.
FE&S: How does humidity and moisture factor into the rethermalization process?
JM: Steamers heat in a certain ratio and utilize 100 percent humidity, just like a water bath. Combi oven rethermalization is not as moisture-laden, so it provides a higher-quality result with some products. Still, wet heat is desirable to maintain product quality, with the exception of breaded products.