Let's kick things off with a little word association exercise: when we say a word or phrase we want you to shout out the first thing that comes to mind. Ready?...Blast chilling. Now, we're sure about 95% of you said some form of the term "leftovers." We only know this because that is the most common correlation people think of when they think about blast chilling. And you're not wrong! This is a major benefit of utilizing blast chilling technology. But, that's just scratching the surface of what a commercial blast chiller can provide.
Blast chilling helps free up your labor giving you the time to check off that never-ending prep list way ahead of schedule. You'll finally have the spare time to test those new menu items you've been trying to get to for the past two weeks and really start expanding your menu. And this is all being done without sacrificing the quality of your offerings. Because let's be honest - your customers can definitely see the difference in some poorly kept leftovers.
What exactly is blast chilling? We like to think of it as the "anti-convection oven," in terms of what it's designed to do. The blast chiller's chamber contains a fan that constantly disrupts the air inside allowing the cold air being produced to better penetrate the food product. This chills down the food much more rapidly compared to traditional chilling methods, in turn extending the food's shelf life by reaching that safe temperature faster.
Why is speed important when it comes to chilling down food product? Bacteria thrives and grows in temperatures ranging between 140° F - 40° F (also known as the "Danger Zone"). So, the faster product is chilled, the less it deteriorates and the longer it can be safely preserved. A blast chiller can bring a product's internal temperature from 165° F down to 38° F in just 90 minutes, spending as little time as possible in the danger zone, compared to traditional freezing methods that can take hours to get down to 38°F.
Now, don't get us wrong - having the ability to safely chill and re-use leftovers for additional service is such a blessing when it comes to finding cost savings by eliminating food waste. That being said, we view this as a "free" benefit only because that's sort of what blast chillers are designed to do. There's no question that this technology brings much more to the table than just leftovers.
Here are 5 reasons blast chilling is more than just a one-trick pony:
CUTTING DOWN ON TICKET TIMES
During those high volume hours it can become extremely difficult to stay on top of your ticket times, especially when it comes to those larger protein items (i.e. chicken, beef, pork, etc.). Throwing products that take 20-minutes or more into the mix can create a hectic environment in the kitchen. This is where the blast chiller comes in!
Picture this: you cook 4 or 5 days worth of chicken breasts or steaks during your morning prep and chill them down in your blast chiller. Instead of having to fire those big proteins from raw you're just re-therming them to the appropriate temperature and voilà - you just cut down your cook time by upwards of 80%. No loss of quality, just faster tickets.
SAVING ON LABOR
See above. The only thing you have to ask yourself is what you're going to do with all of that free time?
IMPROVING FOOD QUALITY
One of the key benefits of being able to quickly chill your food product is capturing those original qualities without sacrificing anything. The rapid chill capabilities allow your product to hold its texture, flavor, aroma and overall aesthetic leaving your customers satisfied and unaware that this food may have been cooked a few days ago!
How does blast chilling help improve your food quality?
Well, since food is largely made up of water molecules, chilling those molecules as fast as possible is crucial. Take fruit for example: if you've ever stuck fruit in your freezer at home (or bought frozen fruits) we're sure you've noticed how they lose their pizazz when you take them out to thaw. That's because the slow chilling process allows these macro-crystals of ice to form and compromise the food tissues, resulting in a loss of texture, taste and smell.
By reaching those cold temperatures quicker you're avoiding quality loss in your food!
ELIMINATING FOOD WASTE
In attempts to save ticket times (without utilizing a blast chiller) you might find yourself prepping and cooking up a large amount of what you think you're going to sell during that service, only to find out it was a slow service or you just didn't sell what you thought you would. Now all of that food is no good.
Had you cooked up a few days worth of product and blast chilled it down, you would've been able to eliminate a ton of food waste by re-thermalizing only what was ordered. Goodbye, food waste!
EXTENDING SHELF LIFE
We have worked with restaurants, colleges and universities, and even K-12 programs that have created some amazing seasonal fan favorites that their customers can't get enough of. When we saw how popular their items were and wondered why they weren't serving this year-round, they stressed the difficulty of getting a certain key ingredient out of season. This is where blast chilling can bring extreme value to your operation.
It's so simple. Stock up on those seasonal ingredients. Blast chill them down. Store them properly, and there you have it - your seasonal offering just became a staple on your menu!
On top of being able to extend the shelf life of your leftovers, blast chilling gives you the ability to safely chill down your food items and get the most out of them without losing their original quality. What's not to love about that?
There's an immense amount of power that can come with blast chilling if you're utilizing it to its fullest potential. This should help get you off to a great start if you're currently working with a blast chiller, or get you off your butt to go get one if you're not. Let us help you crush more volume faster, and with better quality than your existing processes!