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Buying Guide: Kitchen Thermometers [Video]

Kitchen thermometers may seem like simple pieces of equipment, but they are available in a wide variety of makes, models, prices, and features. Learn which thermometer is best for you!

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Transcript:

Hi. I’m Chris Tavano for Tundra Restaurant Supply and in today’s episode we’re going to talk about the pros and cons about four different kinds of kitchen thermometers.

The first thermometer we have here is the old fashioned analog probe thermometer. The nice thing about this is that it’s cheap and it’s easy. It’s very clear cut of what the temperature is; however, the downfall with this one is it does take a little bit of time for the dial to actually get to the correct temperature. Also it’s got a limited temperature range. As you can see it only goes from zero to 220 degrees. Sometimes that could limit you. As well, it can get uncalibrated and the more that you calibrate this that little nut on the back can get loose over time and you’ll need to replace it. The nice thing is it’s cheap so it shouldn’t be too much of a burden.

Next we have a digital probe thermometer from Comark. The PDT-300. The nice thing about this is that it’s also cheap. The better benefit is that it’s a little bit quicker. It’s got more of an instantaneous read because it’s digitally driven and it can be field calibrated. The downfall about this one though is it’s also got a limited temperature range. This one can go down to 52 degrees below zero and all the way up to 302 degrees. This one is definitely an upgrade from your classic analog dial.

Next we have a Comark FoodPro Plus Infrared and Probe Thermometer. This is actually a really cool one. We’re starting to get into the more high-end thermometers here. The nice thing about these is when you have your HACCP plans and your health inspectors come in these thermometers are really what’s going to save you. The nice thing about this one, it’s already got a HACCP temperature range indicator so when you’re actually probing with this one you’ll see at the top it’s flashing in the hazardous sign so that means your temperature range right now for whatever you’re taking the temperature of is in the HACCP danger zone. Also it will go to the cold side or the hot side if you’re in the respective healthy areas of those temperature ranges. The nice thing is it’s an infrared gun as well as a digital probe as well so you got two different things here. The probe -40 to 392. The infrared gun itself -30 to 525.

Next here we have what is considered the crème de la crème of kitchen thermometers. We have here the Comark C20 Series K-type Thermal Couple Thermometer. The nice thing about this is that it’s a thermal couple so it’s going to measure your temperature ranges in a completely different manner, much more accurately, and it has a much larger range than any other thermometer. The temperature range on this probe is -328 degrees Fahrenheit all the way up to just over 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit. 1,112 to be exact. Also the nice thing, the feature of this is it’s got a one degree margin of error plus or minus so you’re getting a much more accurate reading and it reads almost instantaneously. The nice thing about this thermometer though is that it’s got some waterproofing around where the probe connector is as well as very durable because of this rubber housing and casing around it. It’ll last much longer than any other thermometer you have.

I’m Chris Tavano for Tundra Restaurant Supply and here’s to a better, accurate temperature reading.

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Test Strips and Sanitizers: A Complete Buying Guide

Are Test Strips Required, and Why?

Commercial sanitizers and test strips are required by health department regulations, and in Colorado those are the Colorado Retail Food Establishment Rules and Regulations.  Why do you need Test Strips and Sanitizers: A Complete Buying Guidethem?  Because test strips tell you if the chemical sanitizing solution is the required concentration.  Section 4-402 reads:

“A test kit or other device that accurately measures the concentration in parts per million (mg/L) of the sanitizing solution shall be available and used.”

What is Sanitization and Why is it Important?

Good questions, and I’m glad you asked!  Here is the definition from Section 1-202:

“Sanitization means the application of cumulative heat or chemicals on cleaned food-contact surfaces that, when evaluated for efficacy, is sufficient to yield a reduction 5 logs, which is equal to a 99.999% reduction, of representative disease microorganisms of public health importance.”

Simply put, if you apply either sufficient heat, or sufficient chemical sanitizer, then nasty microbes that can make you sick are reduced by 99.999%.  That protects you and your customers, and it is important.  The regulations define how much is sufficient, and I discuss that next.

Test Strips and Sanitizers: A Complete Buying Guide

Types of Chemical Sanitizers

The three most common chemical sanitizers are chlorine-based, quaternary ammonia (QA), and iodine- based.  The required concentration ranges are below:

  • Chlorine-based (available chlorine as hypochlorite) | Between 50 ppm and 200 ppm
  • Quaternary ammonia (QA) | Between 100 ppm and 400 ppm
  • Iodine-based (available iodine) | Between 12.5 ppm and 25 ppm

How Do You Use Test Strips and How Often?

Chlorine-based sanitizers:  Dip the strip into the sanitizing solution, then immediately remove and compare to the color chart.  If it reads between 50 ppm and 200 ppm, then the concentration is fine.

Quaternary ammonia (QA) sanitizers:  Dip the strip into the sanitizing solution for 10 seconds, then remove and compare to the color chart.  If it reads between 100 ppm and 400 ppm, then the concentration is fine.

Iodine-based sanitizers:  Dip the strip into the sanitizing solution for 60 seconds, then remove and compare to the color chart.  If it reads between 12.5 ppm and 25 ppm, then the concentration is fine.

If the concentration is either too low or too high, either add sanitizer or dilute as needed in order to achieve the required concentration.Test Strips and Sanitizers: A Complete Buying Guide

How often do you need to check the concentration?  The Colorado regulation does not specify.  But you need to check often enough to ensure the proper concentration at all times.  A minimum of twice a day is my recommendation.

If you have a high temperature dish machine in Colorado, you must provide a minimum temperature of 160 F on the surface of utensils/equipment to ensure that sanitizing has actually occurred.  Since dish machine gauges can be inaccurate, purchase and regularly use hot water test labels.

Fryer oil and pH test strips are not required by the Colorado regulations.

Remember This!

  1. Test chemical sanitizers in all locations.  This includes the buckets for your wiping cloths, the 3-compartment sink, and the low temperature dish machine.
  2. Inspectors will often ask for your test strips and have you test the sanitizing solution, or they will test it themselves. Asking you to provide the strips will show them if you keep them readily available…a manager scrambling to find them is a bad sign!  Secondly, watching you do the test will show them if you know how, so be prepared.
  3. The requirement for test strips is non-critical, and if you violate it, it is marked as an 11C violation on the inspection form. But have the strips, use them, make sure your staff knows how to use them, and keep all your sanitizing solutions at the proper concentration.
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Food Service Equipment: Getting Properly Stocked

A restaurant kitchen is alive with the hum and bustle of life and movement, and while nothing beats a good staff, stocking the right food service equipment can infinitely improve the efficiency and quality of your restaurant. No matter what type of restaurant you own or operate, you’ll need a massive amount of equipment on hand; ovens, ranges, processors, blenders, freezers, mixers, not to mention plates, knives, forks, chopsticks, etc, etc. In this article, we’ll take a closer at everything your restaurant needs to run as smooth as butter.

Food Service Equipment: Getting Properly Stocked

One thing that any kitchen needs, whether it’s a smoothie bar or a sushi bar, is proper commercial refrigeration. You need a fridge to keep things cold, fresh, and legal. From walk-ins to reach-ins, do your research to ensure that you get a refrigerator that best suits the needs of your establishment.

Also, you’ll most likely need to make ice on site, so if you’re looking for your restaurant’s ideal commercial ice machine, take a look at these tips on the importance of the right ice machine.

All things start with prep, so you need to be sure that you’ve got the right tools to get any dish started. There are many specialized food prep machines which simplify anything from making pasta to sausages.

Nothing is worse than old, worn knives that waste your time inefficiently cutting, dicing and slicing, so be sure to have top quality cutlery on hand, and to sharpen or replace them frequently. Look over this cutlery Q & A to find the better blade for you.

Food Service Equipment: Getting Properly StockedOr, you can walk away from the knife and find a new cutting strategy. Using a quality food processor is a multifaceted method to save time while providing consistency of quality. Processors do your slicing and dicing for you, so you needn’t spend time you don’t have choring away at it. Time is money, so don’t waste another minute doing what a food processor could do for you. Also take a peek here to know what processor to buy.

If your restaurant serves food, that food presumably needs to be cooked, so while looking for any or all sorts of cooking equipment, check out this guide to commercial cooking equipment, which includes options for ranges, ovens, steamers and griddles, to find what best suits your needs.

As the American obesity rate continues to grow so does the popularity of fried food, so depending upon your restaurant’s health-stance, you may want to invest in a commercial fryer. While certainly not healthy, fryers make food undeniably delicious, so don’t exclude this enticing addition.

Food Service Equipment: Getting Properly StockedFrom water to wine, your restaurant will need to find a way to appropriately serve drinks, so consider whether you need a beverage dispenser, or frozen drink machine to make the job easier. Or to make anything from smoothies to mixed drinks, stock up with a blender.

After the dish is served, enjoyed and finished, you’re left to clean up the mess, so investing in a commercial dishwasher is essential for timely turn around.

So whether your restaurant is just starting up, revamping, or merely replacing old equipment, be sure to properly stock your food service equipment to ensure the best restaurant experience possible.

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The Importance of The Right Ice Machine

Maintaining any kind of restaurant requires ice, lots of ice, and the only way to meet your frosty needs is with the right commercial ice machine. If your restaurant is stuck with an excessively large ice machine, you may be spending extravagant costs to make ice you don’t need.

This is not only wasteful and inefficient, but it’s an unnecessary financial investment doomed to melt away. On the other side of the cube, an undersized icemaker can be equally disastrous; imagine unsatisfied customers with lukewarm drinks, and improperly chilled food that wilts alongside patron loyalty. Again, a potentially devastating expense to your business.
The Importance of The Right Ice Machine

Icemakers aren’t cheap, so when shopping for your perfect frozen-water machine you need to consider two things: production necessity and storage capacity. You need to ensure that you are making enough ice to meet the needs of your customers and your kitchen without wanton ice cube creation. In order to discover the perfect ice machine for your restaurant, use the following strategy to roughly determine your daily ice needs.

Within the restaurant, have approximately 1.8 lbs of ice per customer; with cocktails, keep 3 lbs ice on hand per expected patron whereas soft drinks require about 8 oz per 16 oz drink. Catering companies and cafeterias usually should have about a pound per person to keep meals ideally chilled. Using your restaurant capacity and average daily visitors, you should be able to calculate how much ice to create per day.

If your restaurant typically serves a hundred people a day and half of them drink cocktails then you should have 180 lbs of ice with an additional 300 lbs for cocktails for a total of 480 lbs of ice daily. Once you’ve ascertained your ideal ice creation quota, direct your attention towards which ice machine is right for you.

The most convenient and space conscious icemakers come with built-in storage bins, whose capacity range from 80 lbs to 1100 lbs so you can find the perfect fit for your icy needs. After calculating the right amount of ice for your restaurant, browse Tundra’s selection of restaurant ice machines.

Like a snowflake, not all ice is the same. It can come cubed, flaked or even in nuggets and the choice lies with you (although the right option is really just a matter of preference). While most restaurants opt for cubed ice, flakes or nuggets can work well with cocktails or soft drinks. Because of its smaller surface area, flake and nugget ice melts faster.

This can, however, be advantageous within the restaurant. Flake ice’s tendency to melt faster makes it a faster cooling agent, and makes it perfect for quickly chilling a drink or for temporarily housing fresh seafood or chicken. Nugget ice is the midway point between the other two and goes perfectly in cocktails or sodas because they cool drinks quickly without melting away too soon. You can find cube ice machines, flake ice machines and nugget ice machines all at Tundra.

Will the ice machine market as vast and mysterious as the Antarctic, make sure you learn what you need and how to meet those needs in your restaurant.

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Induction Cooking: The Future Of Your Restaurant?

Induction Cooking: The Future Of Your Restaurant?The presence of a large multi-burner gas range at the heart of the cooking line is about as fundamental as it gets in any restaurant.  That iron and stainless steel behemoth uses a lot of energy, throws a lot of heat, and requires a dedicated ventilation system just to keep the cooks from getting overwhelmed.

For decades no proper chef would have it any other way.  That’s beginning to change, and the catalyst of that change is the induction range.  Induction cooking works in a completely different manner than traditional gas or electric ranges.  Instead of using a superhot medium like burning gas or an electrically heated element, induction ranges use the energy created by two opposing magnetic fields driven by an electric current to make the metal in the cookware itself become hot.

Sound a little geeky?
It is, in a cool science project kind of way.  For professional chefs, the most interesting thing about induction cooking are the practical advantages it can bring to the process, including:

Precision temperature control.
While there is certainly a steep learning curve in the beginning, once a chef gets an induction range dialed in based upon the numbers on the knob, you can be sure you’ll get consistent, perfectly even heat every time.  This is especially beneficial for low temperature and simmering applications, because an induction range can maintain a much lower heat than a traditional gas or electric range.

Speed. You’ve never seen a pot boil faster or oil heat up quicker than on an induction range.  Because the metal of the pot or pan sitting on the burner becomes the heating agent instead of the medium, induction is by far the fastest way to heat whatever you’re cooking.

Efficiency. An induction range uses a fraction of the energy used by a traditional range.  There’s also almost zero energy waste since the energy used to heat food is created in the metal of the cookware instead of below it.  This energy is also created by a relatively weak electrical current, which can be much more inexpensive than natural gas.Induction Cooking: The Future Of Your Restaurant?

Safety. An induction burner that’s turned on to full heat is still cool to the touch.  As it heats metal cookware it will become hot, but the burner itself creates no heat.  This makes induction much safer than traditional ranges.  Some induction ranges even have automatic detectors that shut off the burner when there is no pan present, when the pan is empty, or when foreign objects fall onto the surface of the range.

Ventilation.
Because induction ranges don’t burn fuel like a gas range, minimal ventilation is needed, and much less heat is created, even if you’re running induction all day on a busy line.  This can save any restaurant a boatload of money on the ventilation and cooling costs normally associated with a traditional gas range.  Make sure you consult the local regulations in your community when deciding how much ventilation you need to install for an induction range.  In general, however, the requirements should be a fraction of those for a gas range.

Induction cooking isn’t for every restaurant.  Some chefs don’t like the fact that cookware cools off rapidly when it’s not in contact with the burner – a distinct disadvantage for techniques that call for using the pan to flip or sautee ingredients as they cook.  Induction also supports only certain types of cookware – usually stainless steel or cast iron – which means your aluminum cookware will be useless on an induction range.

If you are interested in induction cooking, Vollrath has been a pioneer in developing induction rangescountertop burners, and even chafers for the food service industry.  So far another factor slowing the widespread adoption of induction technology in restaurants has been the cost of equipment.  As energy prices, especially natural gas, continue to rise and the cost of quality induction equipment comes down, however, induction cooking starts to make more and more sense.

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