Smart Tips for Organising Your Commercial Fridge and Freezer

For most food and drink establishments, organising the freezers is probably not high up on the to do list. With staffing to arrange, menus to create and supplies to order, there’s lots to be done and besides it’s just a freezer… right?

However, a well organised freezer will do more than just look pretty. A badly organised one will be working much harder than it should be, causing the compressor to run out too quickly and racking up the utility bills.

By applying a systemised approach to commercial freezer organisation, you can improve cleanliness, maintain food safety and keep equipment running correctly.

Space Food Items Appropriately

When using commercial fridges and freezers you should always try and honour the three inch rule. Air needs to circulate throughout and three inches provides the perfect amount of space between items. When storing large items and boxed food be sure to keep the required space aid cooling and reduce any hot spots inside.

Store Meat Items on The Lowest Shelf

For food safety reasons, you should always store meat on the lowest shelf available. This is because meat may drip juices as it thaws, and these juices can contaminate the food stored below.

Keep Fresh Food Away from Fans

The internal fans on fridges can damage food that is stored too close, particularly delicate food items such as vegetables and berries. When storing food in the freezer this rule should also be applied. Storing food too close to the fan can actually result in freezer burn.

Follow the FIFO Principle

Always pay attention to the ‘use by dates’ of packaged food items and for those without be sure to add your own label. As you place more items into your fridge or freezer, you should put these at the back and bring the other food forward. Any items that are open should always be used first providing they are still safe to use. Following the first in first out (FIFO) rule ensures correct rotation of food products.

Label Your Shelves

Labelling your commercial freezer and commercial fridge shelves is a handy way of ensuring that food is easily identified and put back in the correct place. This helps with storage and organisation, as well as food safety, which is particularly handy when adding new stock.

By keeping your commercial fridge and freezer uncluttered and well organised you are doing your are also creating easier working conditions for staff members and improving the lifespan of your equipment. You are also helping to avoid any food safety hazards which is key to success for any business that serves food.

To find your next piece of commercial refrigeration equipment visit our website today or give us a call on 01204 885123 to discuss your kitchens requirements.

How to Maintain Your Commercial Glass Door Fridge

How to maintain your commercial glass door fridgeMaintaining your commercial fridge is critical. Many people feel that maintenance and upkeep of a fridge isn’t needed but just like you service a car, a commercial fridge is a technical piece of equipment which requires looking after.

Here are a few handy tips on things you can do to help maintain and prolong the life of your commercial fridge.

Keep drains clear

At the base of any commercial refrigerator is a drain. The drain serves as a way for all condensation to escape, the way this works is once excess liquid has drained, it will sit in a drip pan which is then heated and evaporated. If your fridge drain is blocked there will be nowhere for condensation to escape which can flood the interior of the fridge, meaning the condenser will have to work harder, risking burn out.

Keep your condenser dust free

As mentioned the fridge condenser is responsible for a lot of the working parts in a commercial fridge. When dust gathers on the compressor coils the condenser has to work twice as hard. A simple hoovering is all it takes to remove dust from the condenser and keep it in good working order.

Check gaskets

Gaskets also known as rubber seals play a huge part in your fridges performance. Even the tiniest crack or tear in a rubber seal can cause chilled air to leak from the fridge, air which you’re paying for. When air leaks from the gaskets, the condenser will again kick into overdrive as will the compressor. You should thoroughly clean your gaskets using a soapy detergent and towel dry every week, whilst checking for any damage. This will also help to remove any bacteria and food build up.

Clean down your fridge shelves

Never use hot water to clean down your fridge as high temperatures can damage the parts. Avoid home cleaning chemicals and always refer to the manual where possible. Otherwise opt for a warm water detergent or a baking soda mixture. Always use soft cloths as abrasive materials will scratch and could even chip interior parts.

Cleaning the inside and outside of a glass fridge door

When cleaning the inside of your glass fridge door we would again recommend a warm water detergent that is non abrasive or corrosive. You should wipe down your fridge door every day incase of any spillages or food build up. You can use the same cleaning mixture on the front of the door along with a glass cleaner if you want to remove any water stains.

If you are in need of a new commercial fridge please get in touch to discuss your catering business needs. We have been supplying commercial kitchen equipment for over 18 years throughout the UK.

3 Ways Commercial Refrigeration Units are Becoming More Energy Efficient

commercial refrigeration

Commercial refrigerators and freezers work hard in commercial kitchens. They must keep food at specific temperatures in hot kitchen environments and are also subject to frequent door openings.

Since food products must be kept cold constantly, commercial refrigeration equipment has historically operated 24 hours per day, 365 days per year. A large commercial refrigerator used in grocery stores can consume up to 17,000 kilowatt-hours of power per year, while a large commercial freezer can use up to 38,000 kilowatt-hours of power per year. This translates into significant expense for food businesses.

Increasingly, we’re watching the trend of commercial refrigerators and freezers are being made more energy efficient. This not only complies with new governmental regulations to meet new energy efficiency criteria, but also provide significant savings to commercial kitchen operations.

Evaporator Fans

Traditional evaporator fans run 100% of the time, or 8766 hours per year. In virtually all walk-in coolers and freezers, small or large, air is cooled by forced circulation evaporators that contain propeller fans powered by fractional-horsepower motors. Typically, these fans run continuously even though, on average, full airflow is required only about half the time.

New evaporator fans can be silenced at least 50% of the time, even if no outside air is used. Controllers are available that slow these fans when full-speed operation is unnecessary, saving 10 to 60 percent of overall refrigeration energy. Users report paybacks as short as one year.

And when using outside air, those typically noisy, power-hungry fans will rarely run at all, resulting in annual evaporator fan run times of 30% or less. These new evaporator fans mean refrigeration is just as effective, and offer business owners significant savings on energy expenses.

Door Heaters

Door heaters may also run 100% of the time. By installing new door heater controls, it’s possible to limit the hours of operation of the door and frame heaters only to periods of high relative humidity.

New Door Heater Controls allow business owners to eliminate needless energy usage for 200 days or more per year in buildings with no air conditioning. In buildings with air conditioning, door heaters can actually shut off as much as 300 days per year.

Defrost Cycle Management

Some commercial refrigeration systems still use mechanical time clocks to control electric heat or air defrost cycles, using electricity to defrost evaporator fans at set intervals for predetermined lengths of time.

New systems, such as the Freeaire Cooler Controller, monitor the need for defrost and ends a defrost cycle when the job is done. This extends a defrost cycle unnecessarily adds heat to a refrigerated space which then only has to be removed by even more compressor operation.

Every year we’re seeing new ways commercial refrigeration is being made more energy efficient and saving food businesses a significant amount of money in the process.

At Fridgeland we have passionately been providing catering supplies to businesses across the UK and Ireland for 18 years. Please get in touch if we can help you find the right catering equipment for your business needs.

New apps help small food businesses become more efficient

New apps help small food businesses become more efficient

Being efficient and cutting costs are always top priorities for restaurateurs and owners of small food businesses. Increasing productivity directly correlates to increased profitability. It’s no surprise that food entrepreneurs are excited about a few new apps designed to help food businesses become more efficient, productive and profitable in 2015.

Here are a few new apps for food business entrepreneurs we’re particularly excited about this year.

Restaurants save time and money by accepting phone-only payments.

Restaurants and bars are uniquely suited to accept payments from “phone only” payment apps. Now, using apps like Clinkle and TabbedOut, businesses can more efficiently accept payments from guests without the need to invest in supplementary technology or payment terminals. Now, consumers spend less time waiting for servers and bartenders because they can pay through their phone, while restaurants can provide service that is more efficient at a lower cost.

TabbedOut allows patrons to open a “tab” via the app. Then, throughout the evening, they can add orders, view their running total, split the check (via the app; no work required on your part), and even make a payment. Best yet, these mobile payments integrate directly with your POS solution.

Food businesses can create affordable and powerful custom apps.

There are a number of small technology and development houses around the world that create custom applications for small businesses. We’re seeing a growing number of restaurants create apps that allow patrons to view a menu and calendar, reserve a table, get in touch, or take advantage of special offers through coupons and loyalty cards.

More efficiently manage your business via custom financial projections and key performance indicator tracking.

For food business owners considering opening in another location, the Restaurateur app helps generate effective financial plans. Entrepreneurs can take notes while scouting locations, chart out operating expenses, project revenue based on key performance indicators, and compare estimated revenue versus expenses.

Use apps to easily create professional menus and signage.

Changing menus and signage can cost a lot of time and money. What once required a considerable amount of time and energy, can now be done in a matter of minutes. A series of new apps, like Hatchware and Mvix, have made the task of changing the menu easier by providing high definition digital menus to restaurants. Create an account for your food business and your menu content is stored online for easy updating.

Inventory management becomes streamlined via new apps.

Through new apps like Canvas and Lettuce, food business owners can track restaurant inventory or cleaning supplies; record weekly employee timesheets; batch QuickBooks invoices; and more. All forms can be downloaded to any database or spreadsheet format, or exported as a PDF document.

Lettuce in particular, is fairly comprehensive, integrating all related aspects like sales, order capture, payment processing, and customer relationship management. The beauty of Lettuce is that everything that you’d normally need several apps to do is all rolled into one. Those all-too-common miscommunications, file incompatibilities, and other headaches are eliminated too.

At Fridgeland we have passionately been providing catering supplies to businesses across the UK and Ireland for 18 years. Please get in touch if we can help you find the right catering equipment for your business needs.

Photo Credit: PhilipRood

Commercial Equipment Rises to Smaller Kitchen Challenge

Commercial Equipment

Beyond the traditional brick-and-mortar restaurants, smaller food production areas are springing up in shared use kitchens, food trucks and home-based commercial kitchens. In these smaller locations, every inch of space matters. Commercial equipment will continue to get smaller and more complex as operators need to optimise their kitchen space.

Here are four important food service trends that will influence commercial kitchen product development this year.

Reducing back-of-house space in traditional restaurants

Increasingly in commercial settings, restaurant operators want to dedicate more space to front-of-house and reduce the space back-of-house. This helps restaurants become more profitable by serving more guests.

As such, a well-designed commercial kitchen is integral to efficient, safe and profitable food preparation. The fewer steps required to complete a task, the better.

As space becomes more limited in traditional restaurant kitchens, commercial equipment must also become more streamlined and modular.

Work from home cottage industry food businesses

In addition to providing the flexibility of a work-from-home business model, budding food entrepreneurs appreciate the low risk entry into the competitive and ever-popular restaurant and food service business industry.

But of course space in the home is limited. While most traditional residential kitchens fail to offer the durability and convenience of commercial operations, we’re seeing more and more residential kitchen conversions into commercial kitchens to support cottage food industries. Food entrepreneurs around the world are using home kitchens to produce foods like gourmet pasta sauces, artisan breads and canned chutneys.

Adding a commercial kitchen to a home requires intensive preparation to ensure the equipment and layout meet the exact needs of the food business and complies with food-related laws and regulations. These business owners seek compact commercial kitchen appliances that in many cases can perform double duty.

Rise of Food trucks

A fun, hip dining option increasing in popularity across the UK, Food Trucks will continue to dominate food trends this year.

According to the Food Trucks Innovation Report, consumers evaluate mobile food vehicles on many of the same core attributes as traditional brick-and-mortar restaurants. The top three attributes in terms of importance are: cleanliness, food quality and flavour.

The challenge is that food trucks must meet the same consumer expectations as traditional restaurants but have much less space with which to work.

Shared use kitchens and culinary incubators

A shared-use commercial kitchen is a licensed kitchen facility where local entrepreneurs, caterers and instructors can prepare and process their food products for the consumer market.

These facilities are generally rented by the hour. Instead of taking on the considerable financial commitment of opening a private commercial kitchen, new or expanding small food businesses and catering companies can take advantage of shared-use commercial kitchens to help grow their enterprises.

While not necessarily small, these shared-use kitchens must offer a wide range of commercial equipment to service a wide range of food producers, so the smart and efficient use of space is critical.

As these trends are all relatively recent developments in the commercial food industry, we expect smaller kitchen spaces to dramatically influence commercial equipment development and innovation now and in the years to come.

At Fridgeland we have passionately been providing catering supplies to businesses across the UK and Ireland for 18 years. Please get in touch if we can help you find the right catering equipment for your business needs.

Photo Credit: thewooj [50mm]

Commercial Catering Fridges Buyers Guide

Selecting the correct commercial catering fridge or freezer for your business is essential so we have created this simple guide to help you make the right selection for your business. 

All of our commercial catering fridges and freezers have been graded into three types

  • Light duty
  • Medium Duty
  • Heavy Duty 

Light Duty to Meduim Duty Units

          Key Features 

  • Static cooling systems (see note below) 
  • ABS (Plastic) or Grade 430 steel 
  • Designed for use fairly unchallenging environments and infrequent door openings 
  • Designed for maximum ambient conditions of  +32 Deg C / 60% Humidity

Light and medium duty units are fine for use in coffee shops and cafes where there are not many heat producing items around them. So, generally speaking not inside a commercial kitchen but for use in store rooms or on a shop / cafe floor. These models often provide a great value solution. Most light to medium duty chillers provide legal temperatures for raw meat products, however, we advise that light and medium duty units be used mostly for cooked meats and fish products, dairy and other provisions such as salads and vegetables. 

Light duty models tend be constructed from ABS, some models have a steeel exterior with ABS interior.

Medium duty units are often constructed from grade 430 stainless steel and offer users a more robust structure compared to ABS models

To View Our Light to Medium Duty Fridges – Click Here

To View Our Light to Medium Duty Freezers – Click Here

Heavy Duty Units 

          Key Features 

  • All heavy duty units have a ventilated ‘fully blown’ cooling system (see note below)
  • Constructed from heavy duty Grade 304 stainless steel, inside and outside
  • Designed to be used in commercial kitchen and frequent door openings
  • Most are designed for use in conditions of up to +43 Deg C and 85% Humidity

Heavy duty units offer users a highly robust structure which can withstand more forceful and vigorous use and are less likely (within reason) to suffer from impact damage on the inside or outside of the unit. Heavy duty units are able to work in hotter and more humid conditions such as commercial kitchens where there may be many peices of equipment which are producing heat and steam. They provide lower and more even temperatures and recover temperature very quickly after door openings. Heavy duty units are universally suitable for storage of all perishable chilled products, including dairy, cooked meat and fish, fruit and vegetable and raw meat products.

To View Our Heavy Duty Fridges – Click Here 

To View Our Heavy Duty Freezers – Click Here 

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Static Cooling Systems V’s Ventilated ‘Fully-Blown’ Cooling Systems

Refrigeration systems use a process of pumping refrigerant gas around a sealed pipe. The gas switches from very hot to very cool through a process of compressing and expansion. The heat produced is blown out and away. The cold is harnessed and used to cool the fridge or freezer. 

A ‘static system’ loops the cold part of the pipe inside the back wall of the fridge, so the back wall inside the fridge is very cold. A fan may be used inside the fridge to circulate cold air around the cavity. 

A ventilated ‘fully blown’ system has this same cold pipe looped in the base of the fridge through lots of stacked metal fins (to make cold the surface area much larger). The cold air produced is blown into the cavity of the fridge.

Because both types of unit may have a fan inside the top of the fridge, static systems can be described as ‘fan assisted’ and most commercial fridges will have such a fan. 

Pro’s and Con’s of each type: 

Static Cooling 

Static cooling systems are suitable for many commercial applications, it’s just a matter of checking yours before buying one. They are generally suitable for ‘light to medium duty’ use in fairly unchallenging conditions and where the door isn’t being opened very frequently. They have lower manufacturing costs so can provide customers with a significant cost saving – although this isn’t always the case. 

Static cooling systems don’t provide the same temperature consistency as a ventilated unit and cannot cope with high ambient conditions (high temperatures and high humidity) or very heavy use. Static units can be prone to icing inside the unit (especially where humidity is high) and they take much longer to recover their temperature after door openings.  

Some freezers with static cooling systems may have fixed only shelves – this depends on the model so check the specification.

Ventilated ‘Fully Blown’  

Ventilated cooling systems are specifically designed to operate in commercial kitchens where the heat and humidity is inevitably much higher than the ‘norm’ – this is what we and others mean by ‘heavy duty’ use. 

Ventilated, heavy duty models are able to cope with extra heat and humidity partly by being oversized – but don’t panic! Oversized doesn’t mean they cost a lot to run, in fact it’s the opposite. Oversized units tend to use less energy than smaller units as they have to work less in order to produce cooling. Ventilated systems recover temperature very quickly after a door opening compared to statically cooled units. They are very unlikely to suffer from icing problems and provide lower and more consistent temperatures. They can do this in higher humidity and warmer conditions (often up to 43+ Deg C and 85% Humidity). Ventilated systems usually have higher manufacturing costs, so may cost more to buy (although this is not always true).

Freezers with ventilated cooling systems always have adjustable shelves 

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Stainless Steel Grades – What They Mean

‘Stainless Steel’ is a term which is often mistaken as meaning it’s all the same. However, stainless steel comes in many different grades with different properties. When it comes to commercial refrigeration the two most common types are Grade 304 and Grade 430. 

Another common misconception is that stainless steel cannot corrode. This isn’t true. Stainless should be seen as meaning it stains-less than other materials, which it does. It isn’t though completely resistant to all corrosion. 

Higher content of chromium and nickel give stainless steel higher restistance to corrosion and improve tensile strength. Higher carbon content reduces resistance to corrosion.  

  • Grade 304 steel has higher content of chromium and nickel which is what gives 304 grade steel it’s more robust properties. 

Grade 430 stainless steel is a lower cost material and can offer a cost saving in the finished product. Although Grade 430 steel is slightly more susceptible to corrosion than 304 Grade and is not quite as tough, it isn’t likely to rust severely or rapidly and is likley to be virtually rust free when the unit comes to the end of it’s life – don’t believe a lot of the scare stories which say it will rust in days, it will not!

Grade 403 steel is steel and therefore fairly tough. While not as tough as grade 304 steel it can still withstand heavy impacts without breaking (within reason) and it is considerably tougher than plastic.

It is important to be a little more careful when cleaning 430 grade steel with corrosive cleaners and not to use it in very high humidity conditions.

Although grade 430 stainless steel sometime gets a bad press it has to be taken into context. Most commercial fridges have a lifecycle of a few years and with sensible use and in conditions which are not excessively warm or humid, 430 grade steel is unlikely to suffer from severe corrosion or impact damage.

Grade 430 steel also has a parting shot to throw at its critics – it is considered to be a greener steel than other grades due to its composition and the processes involved to produce it, so by using it you are considering the environment. 

Grade 304 steel is a higher cost material compared to 430 grade steel. It is often the preferred choice of caterers because it is stronger than 430 stainless steel and has very high resistance to corrosion (grade 304 stainless steel is highly unlikely to ever suffer from corrosion).

Being tougher and more corrosion resistant material grade 304 steel is important if a fridge is to be located in a kitchen where humidity will be high and/or if it is being subjected to heavy duty use. If long life and toughness is important then grade 304 steel offers the best option.

Conclusion:

Some suppliers and manufactuers may suggest that light duty units offer poor performance this is a myth. If a static system is used in lower ambient conditions (and they can still cope with temperatures of over 30 Deg C – which is pretty warm) and if the door is only opened infrequently (which is the case in many businesses) then they are suitable and will perform perfectly well. They simply offer a solution for which is suitable for many environments and uses and in doing so allow the buyer to make a cost saving. 

On the other hand, if your business is a commercial kitchen with several cooking devices which make it a hot and humid area and if the fridge door might be opened a lot, then you will need a heavy duty model in order to cope with these conditions. 

Some supplier suggest that grade 430 steel ‘will rust’ – this again is not true. Grade 430 steel is still a ‘stainless steel’ with excellent resistance to corrosion. Rather, grade 304 steel is the most corrosion resistant of the two. Choosing the right material is just a matter of thinking about your own use. 

Choose carefully and base your decision on your own use and the conditions that the fridge or freezer will be subjected to.