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Refrigerators and freezers and coolers, oh my! At Texas Restaurant Supply, we have so many types of commercial refrigeration to choose from. Whatever you choose, your refrigeration unit is an integral piece of your kitchen equipment, so choose wisely by making an informed decision. Below is our guide to the various types of commercial refrigeration you can choose for your restaurant.

In general, there are six types of commercial refrigeration equipment, including refrigerators, freezers and coolers. All are designed to chill and therefore preserve food and all use compressors. Coolers and refrigerators maintain temperatures in the 34-40°F range, while commercial restaurant freezers maintain temperatures in the -10 to 0°F range.

Reach-In Units

A reach-in unit is a free-standing upright unit that comes in a variety of sizes (measured by cubic feet capacity for storage). These are the units that look most like a home-use refrigerator or freezer. They feature multiple sections internally for separating food to maximize storage. While the units can be placed anywhere, they function best when they are away from the heat generated by the cooking line. Regarding freezers, most restaurants have blast chillers.

Reach-ins are still the classic refrigeration that most busy commercial kitchens choose. These units can store lots of food items but have more power and much more capacity than a traditional residential refrigerator. Most units have many options, like casters so you can move the unit around, or glass doors so that you can see what you have. Some come with double doors that have shelving for additional storage, just like the home refrigerators do. Some units have dual-zones whereby each half stores food at a different temperature.

Walk-In Units

Large restaurants or those that need a large cold storage space often invest in a walk-in cooler or freezer. Walk-ins come in a variety of sizes, as small as a closet or as large as an entire room. All units feature shelving for storage space to store boxed produce and other foods.

Undercounter Refrigeration

Many commercial kitchens these days are installing under-counter refrigeration, which kitchen folk calls fish drawers. These are refrigerated drawers designed to hold meat, poultry and seafood, and are a great choice, particularly for smaller commercial kitchens. They save space and can be installed directly in the cooking line for much faster food prep. Many kitchens use them where a large reach-in or walk-in unit is just not an option due to space constraints. These days, under-counter freezers are designed for other specialty jobs, like ice cream cabinets and more.

Refrigerated Prep Tables

How about a prep table and refrigerator in one? Refrigerated prep tables are relatively new and are usually used as sandwich and salad prep tables or pizza prep tables. The tabletop comes in various depths of cutting boards and the table cabinet is refrigerated storage. These too can be used directly in the cooking line, but they also function well in the prep area.

Merchandise Refrigerators

You may have a need to display merchandise while refrigerating it, and there are lots of open units or glass door units that fit this need. Many restaurants that feature take-out menus like delis and bakeries use these units, which come in a variety of sizes to fit your every need. Bar refrigeration units typically come in a low boy size that sits lower to the ground or a high boy size that comes up to about waist-high. Finishes for merchandising cabinets typically come in black vinyl or stainless steel, which is more expensive but also more durable and less likely to dent. In addition to the traditional display case refrigeration you are probably used to seeing, there are many specialty solutions like bar back refrigerators, wine coolers, keg coolers and direct draw beer dispensers.

If you’re in the market for new commercial refrigeration, come see us at Texas Restaurant Supply. We have a large selection of various types of commercial refrigeration, and we will help you decide what is best for your restaurant.

Your commercial freezer is likely one of your biggest investments, so protect that investment by keeping your commercial freezer up-to-date on maintenance. Commercial freezers do require a bit of maintenance from time to time in order to keep the unit functioning for years to come. Don’t let minor issues become major issues. Follow these great tips to save your commercial freezer and your wallet from costly repairs.

Clean to Keep Costs Down

Perhaps the best way to keep your commercial freezer operating efficiently is to keep it clean on the inside and on the outside. At least once per week, thoroughly clean the inside. Remove all the items and wipe down the inside with warm water, soap and vinegar solution to clean and deodorize. Remove drawers or shelves that need to soak and if something needs to be scrubbed, use a soft brush.

Many owners fail to clean the exterior of the freezer, but that is just as important. Be sure to use an appropriate stainless steel cleaner and avoid abrasive scrubbing tools and sponges, and don’t use bleach. Warm water and soap are the best. If you need to degrease, consider a grease-busting mild soap, baking soda solution or stainless steel degreaser.

Included in that cleaning should be regular cleaning of the condenser coil, which most manufacturers advise to clean every three months at a minimum. Your owner’s manual should provide step-by-step cleaning instructions. Dust and grime can easily accumulate on the coil and cause the temperature of the coil and other components to rise. If this happens, parts may fail due to the excess heat. A bristle brush will usually remove dirt and you can even vacuum or blow air over the coil to remove any remaining dirt and debris.

Make sure you routinely clean the drain pan and any attached tubing. Slime and sludge easily build-up, particularly in the tubing, and your unit might freeze up on you. If the drain pan ever overflows, that is a sign of buildup. At least once a month, use a warm water/vinegar/soap solution to clean out the pan, and check the tubing every couple of months to make sure there are no clogs. You’ll keep your kitchen safe from leaks and smelling nice, too.

Dry and Deodorized

A liquid can easily accumulate on shelves and in drawers so make sure you keep the inside of the unit dry. Excess moisture causes the unit to freeze up, so be sure to immediately wipe up spills and check for moisture buildup at least weekly.

Foods should always be covered, but in particular, make sure that acidic foods like pickles, tomatoes and citrus are covered to cut down on corrosion. Uncovered, these foods release acids which over time can prove corrosive to the interior of the unit. Freezer bags and containers with lids do the trick.

You should perform routine checks of the unit’s evaporator coil, gaskets and air filters. The evaporator coil removes excess heat and helps the unit cool, so make sure it is working properly. The area around the coil needs to be clean and clear.

Door gaskets need to properly seal, so check to see if cracks or tears in the gasket are keeping the doors from sealing shut. Make sure the gaskets are clean because dirt build-up can cause them to prematurely wear, and replace any broken gaskets according to your owner’s manual.

Air filters also need to be cleaned and checked frequently. In many kitchens, grease from fryers and cooking can clog the air filters. Check that they have proper ventilation. Most air filters are easily vacuumed or cleaned with a degreaser. Be sure to refer to your owner’s manual for guidance.

At Texas Restaurant Supply, we’ve seen too many customers come in to buy a commercial freezer because their unit has suddenly stopped working. Follow our maintenance tips to prolong the life of your freezer.

Every great restaurant needs a great commercial fryer, an appliance designed to deep-fry large quantities of foods like French fries, cheese sticks, chicken and more. What should you look for when considering a fryer purchase? There are several factors that you should consider, and this article will help you find the perfect fryer for your needs.

Fryer Types

How will you use your fryer? Do you have a traditional commercial kitchen, or are you in a food truck? The space you have to work with will largely determine the specific model you purchase. Regardless of the model, all deep fryers heat oil to the desired temperature and contain a basket for submerging your foods in the hot oil. Once fully cooked, raise the basket out and drain off the excess oil for deep-fried deliciousness.

Countertop fryers are great if you don’t prepare a lot of fried foods or if what you fry it in small proportions. They take up minimal space and some models are ventless because they come with top-tier filtration.

Floor fryers are the units more commonly seen in large restaurants that sell a high volume of food in general and fried foods specifically. If you need a constant-use fryer, this is your best option. Floor fryers come in either gas or electric models; the electric ones can have a regular 110V power source or can come in a 220V source as well, so be sure to pay attention. Many floor fryers have one basket or can have multiple baskets to handle a much higher volume. Some of the baskets are manual lift while others have programmable controls to lower, time and lift the basket.

One important consideration for your fryer unit will be to ensure proper ventilation, which is mandated by the city or state for specific pieces of kitchen cooking equipment. Make sure you pay attention to requirements for hood ventilation or invest in a ventless fryer model that features a filtration system, thus eliminating the need for a hood. Ventless fryers are more versatile because they can be used anywhere. Drop-in fryers are designed to fit inside a countertop cutout, and you might consider this great space-saving option. The fryer stays flush with the counter so it makes prep easier and it looks great if you have an open-kitchen restaurant concept.

Depending on what you are cooking, you may need a specialty fryer. Donuts, for example, need to be cooked in shallow oil pots, and there are specialty fryers built just for this purpose. Perhaps you need a fryer for outdoor use, such as catering or large group functions. Outdoor units are mobile and typically gas-powered to be more convenient for this specific type of use.

Important Considerations

When it comes to fryers, consider power source, durability and configuration.

Depending on your kitchen layout, the power source may be an important deciding factor or even a limiting factor regarding the fryer you ultimately purchase. Electric fryer heating elements directly contact the oil and are typically much more heat-efficient once they heat up. They’re also easier to install because they don’t have to be hooked up to a gas line.

A gas fryer can be fueled by a natural gas line or a propane tank. The heating elements sit inside or outside the pot. Gas is a very efficient heating source; these fryers heat up faster. However, their location in your kitchen is dictated by the gas line, and you will likely not be able to ever reconfigure your kitchen to move the fryer elsewhere.

You should also pay attention to the burner configuration, which can include open pot burners, tube burners, ribbon burners or flat-bottom burners. Additionally, consider the durability of the unit. Fryers are rated for light duty, medium duty or heavy-duty, so choose the one that best fits your cooking volume. Fryers usually range from 11 to 34 inches wide, but can be special ordered up to about 95-inch widths.

Finally, consider the controls that come with the unit, and select those that best fit your needs, such as programmable cooking times, automatic basket lifts, and automatic oil filtration systems.

At Texas Restaurant Supply, we know fryers! We hope we’ve given you a lot to think about. Here’s to fabulous frying!

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