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A Very Brief History of Kitchen Utensils

A Very Brief History of Kitchen Utensils

We Homo sapiens have been using kitchen utensils for quite awhile now. How long? Since the dawn of the Stone Age, nearly three million years ago!

Then it was mortar and pestles. Now it’s mortar and pestles and rice cookers sporting the Android operating system.

What happened in between? Let’s turn back the clock …

With the start of the Bronze Age, around 3600 BCE, wealthier households in the Middle East and Mediterranean regions ditched their stone and wood implements in favor of utensils made of—you guessed it—bronze. (And also copper.) As the archaeological record tells us, the Bronze Age was followed by the Iron Age, and more sophisticated forms of metallurgy produced more useful tools for food preparation.

But things really started to get interesting around the 8th Century BCE, with the start of Roman Empire. The Romans popularized a variety of kitchen utensils, including meat hooks, meat mincers, spatulas, colanders/strainers and ladles, frequently made of iron, as well as pots and kettles made of bronze and terracotta.

Side note: What ever happened to the meat hook?

The Middle Ages, despite having a reputation for darkness, was a pretty bright time in terms of kitchenalia. Slotted spoons became popular, as did frying pans, pepper mills, tongs, mallets and (one of my favorites) waffle irons. The medieval kitchen also had weighing scales, roasting forks, rolling pins and even cheese graters.

With the start of the early modern period you begin to see even more specialization with tools like apple corers, cork screws and later, with the proliferation of canned food, can-openers.

And at some point, we ditched the meat hook.

The 19th century, particularly in the United States, witnessed a dramatic expansion in the number of kitchen utensils available on the market, such as labor-savers like potato peelers, jelly molds and salad spinners.

Signs of dissatisfaction with copper utensils, which reacted with acidic foods, were emerging, and other metals gained popularity. By the turn of the 20th century, kitchen utensils were commonly made of (tinned or enameled) iron and steel, nickel, silver, tin, and aluminium.

As predicted by Mr. McGuire in The Graduate, the latter part of the 20th century witnessed the proliferation of petro-based utensils—plastics.

See also: The humble spatula’s linguistic origins – The Week

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Tundra: Catering to Caterers’ Needs Nationwide

Tundra: Catering to Caterers’ Needs Nationwide

Whether you specialize in destination weddings, buttoned-up corporate conferences, fast-paced event concessions, high-volume school lunches, or a little of everything, Tundra has what you need to grow your catering business and keep your staff, clients and patrons happy.

Get What You Need—Fast

Our Catering and Buffet Specialty Shop, located at eTundra.com, offers best-in-class parts, equipment and supplies from top brands like American Metalcraft, Cal-Mil and Winco, and provides several handy filters to help you quickly find what you’re looking for and get back to what matters—running your business.

To keep the shopping experience simple and painless, we have several top-level catering and buffet categories to choose from: beverage station, buffet supplies, displays, equipment, serveware, serving utensils, and storage and transport. From there you can drill down into a variety of sub-categories. Or, if you’re more inclined to type than click, just enter your query into the search bar, and we’ll serve up relevant results faster than you can light a can of Sterno.

And since time is a caterer’s most valuable—and scarce—resource, our Catering and Buffet Specialty Shop lets you shop for items that are eligible for Quick Ship, so you get what you need right when you need it, because no one wants to deliver bad news to Bridezilla.

Save Money

Every catering business, no matter the age, size, or specialty, wants to save money. A penny saved is a penny earned, right? To help cost-conscious caterers, Tundra provides competitive pricing, frequent discounts, free shipping on dozens of items, and a low-price guarantee.

Tundra exists to help your catering business thrive and prosper, and we take that commitment seriously. Whether you’re in the market for an $0.90 salad bowl or a $9,000 Refrigerator Transport Cart, we’ll treat you with respect, courtesy and prompt service.

Head Over to Our Catering and Buffet Specialty Shop!

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Rosseto Catering & Buffet Supplies With Style

Rosseto is not like your average catering supplier.  They strive to bring a sense of style and elegance to the catering and buffet world that is unlike most.  With clean-cut lines, their eye-catching products help display the beauty that is in catering, the food.  From dry food dispensers to some of the most versatile catering displays, here are a few of our favorite products from Rosseto.

Riser System

Rosseto Catering & Buffet Supplies With Style

Rosseto’s riser system is a mix of different size towers and tempered glass in multiple shapes and sizes that can be fit together to make different types of display layouts.  It can be setup for a simple breakfast bar, or built out to include warmers at one end and fade to beverage holders at the other end.  The crisp look ads style to the table without hiding the beauty the chef worked so hard creating.

Notice how in the picture above there are slits in different areas of the risers?  This allows for different bends and shapes so that the display can fit in multiple areas, rather than just in a straight line.

Warmer Solutions

Rosseto Catering & Buffet Supplies With Style

The trend in catering has long been turning to food being cooked in front of the customer.  It helps make the food more enticing when customers can see it, smell it, and talk to the cook that is preparing it.  With Rosseto’s warming solutions, you can build the warming station into the riser system, so everything flows and looks incorporated.  There are square solutions, like the ones pictured above, and round solutions where a pot can sit on top, or sunk into the display.

Dry Food Storage

Rosseto Catering & Buffet Supplies With Style

If you’re running an ice cream or frozen yogurt shop, you know that even adults get excited by seeing the toppings displayed and self-served.  With Rosseto’s line of dry food storage dispensers, you not only get to display those toppings in an impressive way, but you also get portion control technology that saves you money.  From 1.5 tbsp to 1 tsp, each portion delivered can be measured to within 1 gram of what is dispensed, which means controlled portions that saves from unintentional spills.

Dry food storage is also great for cereals, coffee beans, tea, spices and bar snacks.  Since the storage containers are sealed, it keeps the product fresher, longer, which means no more stale peanuts or cereal or tea and spices that lose their flavor.

Dry food storage containers can be wall-mounted or placed on the table top, depending on what option you select.

Cooler Solutions

Rosseto Catering & Buffet Supplies With Style

Have product that needs to stay cool: drinks, tapas, cheeses, fish, etc.?  With Rosseto’s cooler solution, you’ll be amazed at how beautiful a bowl full of drinks or display of tapas can look.  Mixed with other catering solutions from Rosseto, or alone, the cooler solutions help bring chilled beverages and foods to the table without compromising décor.

Beverage Dispensers

Rosseto Catering & Buffet Supplies With Style There are beverage dispensers and then there are artfully created beverage dispensers.  In multiple color varieties, the beverage dispensers also integrate with the other display stands from Rosseto.  There’s also an ice chamber that floats atop the beverage, to make sure it stays cool as it sits.

Bakery Cases

Rosseto Catering & Buffet Supplies With Style

Last, but not least, Rosseto also offers bakery cases, beyond its riser system.  With sliding drawers that are clear, and design detail to help showcase food, the bakery system helps keep baked goods fresh, while adding grace, even with their tiered clear displays that come in two-three stacks.

Have you invested in Rosseto products for your catering business or buffet display?  Share your story with us below.

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Product Spotlight: Vollrath Food Prep Equipment

Product Spotlight: Vollrath Food Prep Equipment

Jacob Vollrath started the Vollrath Company in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, over 135 years ago, manufacturing pots, pans, plates, cups and other kitchenware by coating cast iron with ceramic glaze.

Since then the company has switched to stainless steel and grown into a major manufacturer with a fan base that spans the globe. And despite their size, the family-owned company has stayed true to its Sheboygan roots, with a commitment to craftsmanship and innovation that chefs, managers and proprietors everywhere know they can rely on.

Food Prep Equipment for Every Task—Small, Large and Industrial

With Vollrath in your kitchen you can slice, dice, chop, mix, whisk, wedge, shred, grate, core, grind, cube, agitate, extract, scrape, and vacuum seal on a professional, take-no-prisoners scale. Whatever you need processed, from apples to zucchini, Vollrath lets you work with an efficiency that Henry Ford would admire. Plug it in or crank it by hand—it doesn’t matter: their equipment motors through tasks just the same, making your kitchen quicker and your establishment more profitable.

Redco Manual Food Processors

Vollrath’s food-prep line features industry-leading Redco Manual Food Processors, which offer exceptional value and help your business bring more to the table. Redco slicers and cutters are prized for their ability to boost kitchen productivity, improve consistency and reduce food waste, giving you more time and energy to focus on delighting your customers and providing value.

Durable Products That Stand Up to Daily Abuse

Keenly aware of the needs of busy restaurants and the exacting demands of professional chefs, Vollrath has designed their line of food-prep products to withstand heavy use (and abuse) day in and day out, without complaint and without any loss in performance. With the support of strong materials and precise engineering, restaurateurs and chefs know that an investment in a Vollrath is an investment in the success of their business.

Dedicated to Your Success

Vollrath’s commitment to the food service industry is legendary, and that commitment is evidenced by their vast library of free resources for buyers and owners. Whether you’re looking for a product attachment or tips on streamlining your kitchen operations, the Vollrath University website is a fantastic resource to keep at the top of your bookmarked sites.

If you’re looking to provide a better experience for your customers while streamlining your back-of-the-house operations, you really can’t go wrong with Vollrath.

Shop all Vollrath food prep equipment at eTundra.com »

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Product Spotlight: Sharp Commercial Microwaves

Product Spotlight: Sharp Commercial Microwaves

Did you know that Sharp Corporation started in Japan in 1912 with a line of groundbreaking mechanical pencils?

Over a century later, Sharp is still on the technological vanguard, and their stellar lineup of commercial microwaves is a perfect illustration of their pedigree and enduring commitment to innovation.

Combining reliability with power, simplicity with sophistication, Sharp commercial microwaves have earned fans in high-output restaurants and home kitchens.

Large Capacity, Compact Design

Sharp microwaves manage a paradoxical feat: they have a small footprint AND a roomy interior. How do they pull it off? With clever design, Sharp microwaves deliver evenly cooked food without the space-wasting turntable of domestic ovens, allowing every inch of space available to be used.

What’s more, without the usual merry-go-round to complicate cleanup, the inside is easy to keep sanitary.

Two Grades to Choose From

  1. Sharp Heavy-Duty Series microwaves, ranging from 1200 to 2200 watts, are the workhorses of the bunch. They’re great for big jobs requiring maximum efficiency and output. Choose from models with up to 11 power levels and 20 touch-pad memories.
  2. Sharp Medium Duty Series microwaves, each packing 1000 watts, offer the durability and simplicity of a stainless steel interior, with a tough handle that will endure a lifetime of abuse. Whether you choose the spartan R-21LCF or the feature-rich R-21LTF and R-21LVF models, you’re going to enjoy rock-solid durability and peak performance.

Efficiency-Boosting Controls

Streamlined programming means streamlined kitchen operations. What’s more, Sharp offers models with Twin Touch capability, an innovation that features dual control panels on the top and bottom so the buttons can be reached wherever the microwave is placed, making it easy to use in small places.

Sometimes you need options, but other times they just get in the way. Whichever camp you’re in, Sharp has a microwave for you, from a pared-down model with just one power level and handful of memories to an all-the-bells-and-whistles-included model with 11 power levels and even more pre-programmed memories.

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Why Aren’t You Weighing Your Dry Ingredients?

Why Aren’t You Weighing Your Dry Ingredients?

Most bakers will tell you that one of their must-have-kitchen tools is a good scale that is capable of measuring in precise increments.  That’s because they rely on the scale to weigh out their ingredients, rather than simply scooping it up.  For example, take flour that has been packed in its 10 pound bag, quickly fill a 1 cup measuring cup, level it on the side, and then throw it in a bowl on the scale.  Because the flour was pre-packed and compressed, odds are it would be much heavier than the suggested 130 grams (that’s for all-purpose flour, other flour types have different suggested weight).  Now, swirl the flour around to unpack it a bit and spoon the ingredient into the same measuring cup.  Measure in the same bowl on the same scale and, guess what, odds are you’ll get a different number than the first time.  In fact, it’ll probably be less than the 130 grams you’re looking to reach. On average, measuring ingredients this way leads to anywhere between 30% more or less of the amount of flour you’re actually looking to get.  The point is, the collection of measuring spoons and cups isn’t needed, just the scale, because you can spoon in the flour until you reach the weight you are looking for.  If you go over a bit, that’s fine, scoop a bit out. 

Chefs and bakers like to weigh their dry ingredients for more than just the accuracy – it’s also easier to just fill a bowl on a scale. 

It’s important to note that you can measure ingredients in either grams or ounces, both units are okay to use; however, you should be aware of what aspect of the ingredient is being measured with regards to ounces – volume (fluid, liquid) ounces or weight (dry) ounces.  A liquid ounce of water (29.74 grams) is not going to be the same as a dry ounce of water (28.03 grams).  The majority of scales can measure weight in both ounces and grams, so you can switch back and forth depending on what your recipe is calling for or what you prefer.

Finally, if you need to convert things from ounces to grams (or vice-versa), simple type in “ounces to grams” or “grams to ounces” in Google and a calculator will load at the top of the screen.  From there, you can change the numbers as you need to, to find the right calculation.

Although not an exclusive list of weight conversion, here’s an example of a few dry ingredients and their weight in grams and ounces:

Why Aren’t You Weighing Your Dry Ingredients?

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Recipe Measurement Converter & Equivalents

As the holidays start coming closer, we thought it would be a perfect opportunity for our blog team to work together with the graphics team to put together some printable material that would make great gifts for those Chefs in your life. 

Our very talented Audrey Diaz and I thought a recipe measurement converter and equivalent infographic would be a perfect piece to frame and gift.  It would look great in the home kitchen or office;  either way, it’s our free gift to you.  Enjoy.

Recipe Measurement Converter & Equivalents

Click on image for larger view, and PDF version.

Embed This Image On Your Site (copy code below):

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Shopping Guide: Commercial Toasters

Shopping Guide: Commercial Toasters

Unless you’re in the bread business, the likelihood of you having to dig into the logistics of toasters probably isn’t high on your list.  But for those delis and breakfast joints, making sure the bread is toasted just right is essential to business.  Besides, what would a great burger be without a buttered, toasted bun?  This toaster guide goes through several factors you should consider when investing in a new toaster for your restaurant or food service business.

1.    Brand and Cost

Brands aren’t as important to some people as other factors, but for others, the difference in the brand can make or break the deal.  The good news is that there are many different well-known brands that manufacture different types of toaster ovens.  And because there are different types, sizes, manufacturers, etc., the price is dependent on a lot of factors that we’ll go through below, but for reference, a toaster can go from $75 to $3,000.  But that beefcake of a toaster at the high-end is able to produce 1,000 slices of toast per hour!

2.    TypeShopping Guide: Commercial Toasters

There are essentially 2 types of toasters: a pop-up toaster and a conveyer toaster.  The pop-up toaster is what most people are used to seeing in their homes, but a commercial pop-up toaster is made to hold up in a kitchen where it would be used much more than a home toaster ever would.  In fact, even though it’s our smallest toaster, the Waring WCT702 is capable of doing 30 slices of toast per hour. 

A conveyer toaster can toast bread on one-side or both sides (or can be adjusted to do either), and is capable of producing anywhere from 350 slices per hour to 1,100.  Some conveyer toasters even come with a butter roller so that you can butter the buns easier.

3.    Dimensions

Like home toasters, commercial toasters are made to fit on the counter, but they do have dimensions that you should think about before investing. 

Equipment Size

First off, make sure the toaster will fit the space you’d like to have it placed.  Our smallest toaster is the size of a regular home toaster, but our largest one is 24”H x 34”W x 26”D.  Remember to always measure the space before you buy any piece of equipment. 

Slot Width and Conveyer Width

Depending on the size of bread you’ll be toasting, you’ll want to pay attention to the width of the slots of a pop-up toaster and the width and clearance of a conveyer toaster.  There’s a big difference between a normal slice of white bread and a slice thick of Texas toast; just like there’s a difference between the size of English muffins, bagels, hoagies, etc.  Ranges for slot width and conveyer width and clearance are as follows:

  • Slot widths range from 1” to 1 5/8”
  • Conveyer widths range from 10 ½” to 14”
  • Clearance for a conveyer toaster range from 1 ½” to adjustable (usually up to 3”)
    • Clearance is for the amount of space the bread has to pass through the conveyer

Shopping Guide: Commercial Toasters 4.    Chambers & Slots

As you probably know, a pop-up toaster has different numbers of slots: they can come with 2 slots, 4 slots, or 6 slots.  But conveyers have chambers, which is the place where the bread is laid to enter the toaster.  Conveyers can come with 1 chamber or 2 chambers, and the toasters that come with 2 chambers have variable heat controls so you can toast sliced bread at one heat setting, and buns at another.

5.    Heat Control

With pop-up toasters, you usually won’t have the option to adjust the temperature.  You can adjust the time the bread is in the toaster, so that it doesn’t cook as long, but the temperature stays consistent. 

Conveyer toasters usually have more options when it comes to the heat source, including being able to adjust the temperature or turn one element off so that you can toast only one side of the bread.  Conveyer toasters specifically for bun grilling only heat on one side, but the temperature for that element is typically still adjustable. 

The importance of being able to adjust temperature, is because it will give the bread a different affect (flavor if you will), which may be important for some recipes.  The temperature setting also has an effect on how much bread can be toasted per hour.

6.    Slices of Toast Per Hour

The number of slices the toaster puts out per hour is highly dependent on how much you will be using the toaster.  If you’re running a continental breakfast, a pop-up toaster would work out fine, but a burger joint would fit better with a conveyer toaster. 

Think to yourself, how much toast are you really going to need every hour?  Is the business going to grow, and need more toast in the future?  The answer to these questions will help you find if that toaster that is capable of doing 30 slices per hour is the right for your business, or if the one that does 1,100 slices per hour is better.

7.    What Kind of Bread Can it Toast

This fits with slot width, conveyer width, and heat control, but the type of bread you’ll be toasting is important to think about too.  The toaster has to have enough clearance so that the bread will fit Shopping Guide: Commercial Toasters into the equipment.  If the slot width is 1” and you’re cooking 1” Texas toast, well, that’ll be a tight fit. 

Also, if all you’re going to be toasting is buns, then a conveyer toaster with only one heating element will do you good.  But always remember, if you’re planning on expanding into other recipes in the future that may need two heating elements, you may want to go with a conveyer toaster with adjustable heating elements (where one side can be turned off, and turned back on when needed).

8.    Volts, Amps, and Watts

And we can’t end this without reminding you to always take a look at the voltage, amps, and watts of any equipment, before you make a purchase.  We don’t want anything bad to happen, but if you need a quick rundown on what to consider, take a look at this how-to guide on watts, amps, and volts.

In Closing

If you still have questions on what toaster is right for you, give our sales team a call at 888-388-6372 or use our Live Chat feature at the top of our main website.

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The Good & Bad of Commercial Grade Equipment & Supplies in Your Home

The Good & Bad of Commercial Grade Equipment & Supplies in Your Home

Question: Is there really a difference between restaurant grade products and products that I can get at other online and local stores?

Answer: It’s kind of hard to answer that question, because the answer is, it depends.

The Bad

It depends on what you’re shopping for, because a commercial oven has many different features than a standard home oven would have.  A commercial oven is meant to be used 12+ hours a day, constantly making meals for the masses.  These ovens don’t have all of the same safety features that you’d expect in your home oven (like the knobs are much easier for little hands to turn, which is dangerous), and they use a lot more power than a residential oven.  Your home exhaust would have to be switched over to commercial grade ventilation, and the flooring would have to be updated to handle the weight of these large pieces of equipment.  Commercial ovens are also not insulated, meaning, they can’t be installed between home cupboards and against normal residential walls.  In fact, the majority of commercial equipment needs special walling and plenty of space on the sides so that there is enough ventilation.

Same goes for commercial grade refrigerators, they use a lot more energy than home refrigerators and only come with the refrigerator section – no built in freezer (you’d have to buy that separately).

And finally, if you’re planning on installing commercial equipment in your home, you need to know that warranty is officially void.  Warranties are not upheld once equipment is installed in residential kitchens.  And any future maintenance and repairs that you can’t do yourself usually calls for a specialized tech that has commercial-equipment-repair-know-how… meaning repairs could be costlier than normal repair techs would charge.

The Good

But, if you’re up for making these changes and are well educated about what a commercial kitchen means for your home, you’re good to go (call our sales team if you need any help).  These large appliances are able to hold a lot more food, cook more meals and look awesome in a residential kitchen.  Not to mention, they’ll likely be the last purchase of its kind for you, because there’s no way your wear-and-tear on them will match what a restaurant does to them!  They’re basically indestructible in a home; well worth the price.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for supplies like a blender or knives, commercial grade will blow your mind!  Seriously, talk about indestructible, have you seen the Blendtec blender do its magic…

These blenders are made for the food service industry, and are strong enough to last a lifetime in residential kitchens.  Seriously, you’ll be handing them down to your kids.

A knife is a knife?  I think not.  The difference is that the steel and metal used in most knifes don’t even come close to the German and Japanese steel used in commercial knives.  They stay sharp longer, and will make you fall in love with chopping and dicing.  Yes, I said love, the majority of our staff can go on for hours about their favorite kitchen knife (and most talk about their sets of knives).

Also, a lot of restaurant supplies come in bulk.  So you may be buying a lot at once, but because of the bulk price, you save a lot of money!

And anyone that’s ever worked in a commercial kitchen will swear by commercial grade plastic wrap.  I personally have a box at home, and it has lasted me forever!  But the best part is that this stuff sticks to anything!  Not like the stuff you get at the grocery store that usually caves in if you put anything on it, this stuff is likely to cling itself to you if you don’t get it on the dish fast enough – seriously, I’m a bit obsessed with the commercial grade plastic wrap.

These are just a few items that we’ve fallen in love with in our homes, but let us know what other commercial grade products you swear by in your home.

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State Fair Must-Haves to Keep Serving Up Good Eats

When you’re organizing a State Fair there are plenty of things you need to have on hand beyond just food and crowds. But we didn’t want to just give you a long list of concession items; instead, we took this great example from Buzzfeed, and gave it our own spin.

1. You’ll need extra janitorial supplies, because you know there’s going to be a mess.  There’s always a mess.

2. You’ll also need plenty of paper towels, napkins, and disposable plates, so hopefully people can maintain their own messes – don’t forget the trash bags to uphold trash levels!

3. To compete for the most extreme State Fair eats, you’ll definitely have to stock up on the right merchandisers and supplies – chocolate covered corn dogs anyone?

4. And fried foods, yeah, you need to be prepared for your next fried food concoction too. Donut hamburgers… may be good?

5. You’re in the middle of State Fair week and something breaks.  This is the time for breaks, because the closest supplier is miles away.  Don’t be jealous that your neighbor thought ahead and made sure he had all the extra parts needed to make quick repairs.

6. Tables? Chairs? Drapes? Booth Equipment?  Why rent when you can buy it and reuse it every year (shh, it also saves you more money this way).

7. Step right up!  Velvet rope isn’t just for corralling the crowds, it also adds a little pizazz to your booth.

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