As you conduct repairs and maintenance in a wide variety of commercial kitchens, you’ve probably noticed more blast chillers are making their way into these spaces. The units are specialized, rapid-cooling freezers that don’t over-frost product, maintaining quality and taste of your customer’s food. But how does a blast chiller work?
Knowing the purpose and function of this unit not only can help technicians with repairs, but it also can help explain the benefits of planned maintenance to customers. Let’s break the basic functions and benefits of a blast chiller.
The Basics of a Blast Chiller
A blast chiller, also known as a flash freezer, is designed to lower food temperature quickly. Equipped with multiple shelves, your customer can freeze multiple types of foods all at once. While commercial kitchens use the unit to rapidly freeze product, many also use it to thaw and temporarily chill batches of food, such as pastas, breads or freshly made desserts like ice creams and sorbets.
The cooling process of a blast chiller is designed to cool or freeze food rapidly. Unlike a standard freezer, this unit decreases the number of ice crystals that form on the product, limiting moisture when the food is defrosted or cooked. When large amounts of ice crystals melt, they increase the amount of moisture and effect the overall quality and taste of food. By decreasing moisture, the blast chiller’s cooling process helps maintain the best possible quality and taste.
The unit’s temperature varies based on manufacturer and model. According to Foodservice Equipment Reports, most commercial blast chillers help food reach a core temperature of “around 160°F or more down to 41°F or less in about 90 minutes” and can “freeze food for four hours or less.” This rapid temperature decrease plays a key role in preventing the growth of bacteria, which we address next.
Preventing Bacterial Growth
Both cooling process and temperatures play a crucial role in preventing bacteria growth. Bacteria like E.coli and Staphylococcus grows rapidly between 40°F – 140°F, which is commonly referred to as the “danger zone.” Improper refrigeration or freezing can spur this on if it allows food to stay in this temperature range for a prolonged period of time. This is why a blast chiller is a major asset. Its ability to quickly lower food temperature keeps any product out of that danger zone.
A brand-new commercial blast chiller can cost anywhere from $10,000-$40,000, depending on the capacity and features. So how can you help your customer get the best out of his/her investment? Setting up a planned maintenance schedule is a great first step. Below are some tasks you can include as part of a routine maintenance checkup:
- Cleaning evaporator and condenser coils
- Cleaning drain lines
- Checking and cleaning air lines, gaskets, hinges and fan blades
- Checking and calibrating thermometers
- Checking fan motors and electrical components
As JR Weber from General Parts said during a February episode of the Service Calls podcast, showing customers “how they’re going to get the biggest value and ROI on their equipment” is vital when setting up a planned maintenance program. Remember to emphasize that the tasks above not only keep a blast chiller stay in peak condition, but they also help keep food safe and at its highest possible quality.