Why every kitchen should have a combi steam oven…….
And how Caterquip UK can save you a lot of money buying them!!
I started to use Rational combi ovens in the 1989 (Other brands are available). They quickly revolutionised not only how we cooked, but massively influenced menu development because they cooked faster and steaming became an everyday method of cooking. Literally, within 2 months, we established a healthier cooking regime, healthier food offering to our diners – which was very well received, and we recognised the future was going to be very exciting and innovative.
A few key benefits for the chef….. and an informative You Tube video
- Steam roasting joints much reduces shrinkage giving better profit and much improved moistness.
- Modern combi ovens have a regeneration function used to reheat plates for large number services.
- The larger 20 & 40 grid combi’s use a roll in trolley which holds 1/1 & 2/1 Gastronorm trays. Perfect for filling, storing in a walk in fridge, then rolled into the oven for cooking.
- Plate trolleys of up to 120 plates in the larger 40 grid ovens can also be used in the aforementioned regeneration mode. Heated plate trolleys use a thermal cover to keep plated food hot at the pass until required.
- Current model combi ovens have a USB port to download HACCP data and monitor the ovens performance and well-being.
- Less cooking times needed, means less power and gas consumed.
- Offers a steamer, convection oven, regeneration and holding oven in one foot print.
- 6 & 10 grid (Shelf) combi ovens can be stacked vertically giving a huge operational advantage, especially where floor space is limited.
A brief overview about Combi Steam Ovens
Combi steamers are cooking assistants used primarily to prepare food for larger numbers of people at one time. Combi steamers replace practically all conventional industrial-scale cooking appliances, such as convection ovens, stoves, pots and grills. They combine the advantages of steaming (e.g., short cooking times, low cooking loss levels, juiciness) with those of convection heat (e.g., intense flavor, appetising colour, crisp crusts).
The steaming function works very well for foods like vegetables, potatoes and fish, while convection or combination (convection plus steam) heat is suitable for roasting, braising and baking. One disadvantage of convection heat is that foods tend to dry out more quickly; depending on the product, it may also require very long cooking times. Meanwhile, steaming alone does not get foods crispy enough. Combining convection and steam heat utilises the advantages provided by each cooking method, yielding tender meat with a crisp outer crust. Users also have complete control over the cooking environment, as the devices allow manual regulation of both temperature and humidity within the cooking chamber.
The variety of cooking programs available, and the fact that they can be combined, provides users with practically limitless options
Combi steamers generate steam using one of two systems:
- Boiler or cauldron systems produce steam within a steam generator located outside the cooking chamber; steam is then fed into the cooking chamber as needed.
- Injection systems generate steam directly inside the cooking chamber by spritzing water onto the heating element within the core of the rotating ventilator, or onto a heat exchanger.
Combi steamers typically contain food racks with dimensions corresponding to Gastronorm specifications (GN racks); these racks may vary in width, so they are only suitable for certain sizes of containers (GN1/1 or GN2/3). Different models can hold different numbers of racks; typical sizes include 6, 10, 12, 16, 20, and 40 racks. Units with six or ten racks are usually stand mounted devices, while those with 20 and 40 are free-standing. The number of racks may also vary from unit to unit, as they are typically removable and can also be replaced with racks corresponding to gastronorm (Gn) roasting pan or baking tray dimensions. These racks provide space for additional roasts or baking trays, since these methods do not require deep containers.
Free-standing units can be filled and emptied rapidly by using so-called rack trolleys. These rolling carts make it possible to transfer entire batches of prepared containers in and out of the combi steamer all at once, which keeps loss of heat through the open door to a minimum. Users can thus cook large amounts of food at once while preparing another batch of containers on another trolley, and then quickly switch one trolley for another. Special plate rack trolleys are useful for quickly regenerating precooked, pre-plated meals.
Combi steamers require a water connection or a separate drinking water tank, as well as a water drain. On most manufacturers’ models, the extremely high-output steam generators are at risk of experiencing rapid calcification, so the water connected must not have hardness levels over 6 °dH (107.1 ppm). Electrically heated units require a three-phase alternating current or single phase connection; gas-powered units require a gas line connection and single phase electrical connection. The devices also have exhaust-air lines to release steam into the surrounding air; they may also give off aromas and grease or oil, depending on the cooking method being used.
Generally speaking, users can program combi steamers to perform processes involving several sequential steps, and also save these programs to an electronic cookbook. DIN 18866 (Industrial kitchen appliances – fan, steam and combination ovens; German Institute for Standardisation, June 2003) specifies the minimum requirements for combi steamers.
The units may have analogue or digital controls; modern models are also equipped with PCB or USB interfaces, and some have touchscreen user interfaces.
The advantages of a combi steamer over dry air convection equipment include:
- control of both temperature and humidity in the chamber, which reduces cooking time
- uniform preparation
- lower temperatures preserve nutrients
- simultaneous processing of up to 12 different dishes without mingling of flavours
- food preparation without oil or fat; reduced carcinogen formation
- reheating previously prepared food without loss of moisture, or of crispness
- space saving, fewer kitchen appliances needed
- reduction of final product shrinkage losses
- electricity savings
- reduction of labour costs
Every savvy chef and kitchen operator knows Combi Ovens aren’t cheap to buy. You have to view your purchase as an investment rather than just another widget to put onto your shopping list. That said, they offer longevity and performance and combine several appliances into one vertical machine. Some are more expensive than others but here at Caterquip, we are the UK’s largest supplier of professionally reconditioned catering equipment and we sell a lot of combi ovens each year. With savings of up to 50-60% against new prices, great warranties and service, you should consider buying second hand to reduce your capital spend. Give me a call on 01733 286000 option 1 to discover more about combi ovens and how they can revolutionise your kitchen.