There are many hot holding units used to keep cooked food items hot until they are served. Two examples are hot holding cabinets and drawer warmers both of which are frequently used by commercial food operations.
Additional common food holding units used for hot holding include-
- Clear door display cases
- Buffet tables
- Hot shelf modules
A solution that accounts for both crispy and moist foods are units with door vents that can be opened or closed depending on what humidity level is desired. Food should also be stored differently depending on texture, for example, avoiding deep containers for crispier food to avoid them getting moist.
An additional concern that should be kept at the forefront of every food professional's mind is avoiding overcooking food items during the hot holding process. A food warmer should not continue cooking food items under any circumstances. Any steam that is 212 degrees Fahrenheit or hotter will continue to cook food.
If a heated cabinet does not evenly distribute heat, your food will not have the proper texture or temperature. Hot food should be consistent in every serving that is provided to your customers.
Another danger of unevenly distributed heat is that a food item may fall into the temperature danger zone. Always make sure that your heated holding cabinet keeps hot food above 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
If hot food spends too much time in the danger zone it will need to be immediately disposed of to avoid food poisoning cases. Food poisoning cases can not only cost your business financially with costly lawsuits, but they could also damage your business's reputation forever.
There are important differences between non insulated and insulated holding units for food industry professionals to consider. There are big differences between the price points and the energy efficiency of non insulated and insulated holding units.
Non insulated cabinets are most ideal for lower volume and lower budget operations. A non insulated heated holding cabinet can hold products for a much lower initial investment cost than an insulated holding unit.
Non insulated units are less energy efficient and can make a small kitchen space hot from the heat that the unit emits into the kitchen space. An insulated holding cabinet reduces both energy usage and heat loss.
If your operation has enough capital to make the higher initial investment, it is well worth the benefits that an insulated holding cabinet offers. An insulated holding cabinet is also a great investment for offsite events where a cabinet full of hot food is necessary.
Another consideration is between full size and half size units, as your transport cabinet need only be as large as the demand for hot food items. Some operations will purchase a half size unit to begin with before upgrading to full size commercial food holding equipment as their demand and profitability increase.
The food service industry is increasingly focused on fast service with customers expecting shorter wait times than ever before. On the other hand, businesses are also expected to provide their customers with high quality food products every time.
Thankfully, hot holding devices can help food industry professionals to deliver great quality food to their customers as quickly as possible. If used properly, hot holding equipment can not only increase service times and provide a high quality product, but they can also improve kitchen efficiency.
Instead of having to put in the effort to individually create a menu item each time it is ordered, holding equipment can keep a bulk amount of a menu item ready. This frees up crucial time for your kitchen staff and provides a more consistent product.
There is a long standing negative connotation of food warmer and mobile heated units in the food industry. This negative association is rooted in holding equipment that dries out food products and unevenly distributes heat throughout the product.
There have been huge technological advances in hot holding equipment over the years. Commercial food units are more equipped than ever before to consider the various temperatures and textures of hot food items.
With the proper equipment, such as stainless steel proofing cabinets and properly insulated holding units, food industry professionals can challenge the negative stigma associated with hot holding.
Not only does holding equipment increase onsite efficiency, but it allows food industry professionals to explore new mobile business opportunities. For example, a smaller operation can consider catering events that may have previously been unrealistic.
Instead of viewing hot holding as a shortcut, it can be viewed as a solution that increases service times, food quality, and kitchen efficiency. Serving hot food that tastes like it was just prepared fresh is easier than ever before with today's commercial food hot holding technology.