Restaurant Equipment Tips: Energy Conservation Equals Higher Profits

 


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We at Jean's Restaurant Supply want you to succeed with your business venture and rising energy costs are on the forefront of everyone's minds. Inefficient, or inefficient use of, food preparation equipment is the second-largest energy drain on your restaurant's profits. So here at Jean's Restaurant Supply, we have compiled some energy-saving tips for your commercial broilers and fryers. In doing so, we hope that with the implementation of some of these energy-saving tips, your energy bill leaves you with some profits still on your plate.

Energy-Saving Tips for Commercial Broilers

  • Don't Get Overheated. Follow your commercial broiler manufacturer's preheating instructions, including; minimizing preheat times, which can waste energy, and avoiding preheating at unnecessarily high temperatures, which could alter the taste and quality of your food. Don't raise the temperature on your broiler during peak hours to increase production, because it's your energy use that will increase, while your food quality may suffer. Whenever possible, use infrared broilers that require no preheat time and can be turned off and then quickly reheated when called into action.
  • Plan it Out. One of the most proactive things you can do to increase your energy-savings on your commercial broiler is organize your broiler activities. In addition to turning off all unused sections during slack times, you may be surprised to know that it isn't obligatory to have the entire broiler on even at peak periods. You can improve cooking consistency and increase your energy-savings by turning one section to full heat for rare meats and another section to a lower setting for well-done meats. And always, always remember: maximum capacity equals maximum efficiency, so fill ‘er up!
  • Don't Forget to Maintain. Maintenance on your commercial broiler involves: regular cleaning of the burners; emptying the grease pan; washing drip shields and grid; also, if needed, scraping the grid with a three-cornered metal scraper; and lastly, making sure openings and air shutters are clear. Handle ceramic refractor units with care, but they should be rearranged from time to time. Watch out for faulty burner operations – a clear flame with a distinctive inner cone is best. Also, flames should just wipe the surface of the refractor elements; they should never float or strike directly on them. Here at Jean's Restaurant Supply, we suggest having an experienced agent of your local gas company adjust your burners, if the need arises.

Energy-Saving Tips for Commercial Fryers

  • Quick is the Name of the Game. Commercial fryers utilize a system of cooking where the heating element is in near or immediate contact with the fat or oil, and as a result, they require limited preheat times and recover very quickly. We, at Jean's Restaurant Supply, recommend that you follow the manufacturer's general rule of thumb, which is 7 to 15 minutes. Preheating any longer will only reduce your energy-savings. Also, don't assume that a higher preheat temperature will decrease your preheat time. On the contrary, it will not heat the fryer any faster, but in fact, could overheat the fryer and cause wasted energy and possible food spoilage due to excessive cooking temperatures. It's okay to turn down your fryer to an idling temperature during slow periods when it is not in constant use, and this also helps to extend oil life. Furthermore, resist the temptation to overload your baskets past the manufacturer's usual recommendation of one-half to two-thirds full. Overloading will not decrease energy costs; it will simply increase cook times and jeopardize food quality.
  • Drain and Strain. One of the most effective steps you can take to increase your commercial fryer's energy efficiency is to keep the oil as clean as possible. This means that you should regularly, maybe even daily, drain the oil from your fryer and process it through a commercial fryer filter. All fryers have a cold zone where the oil is not heated and the loose debris is allowed to settle. This is where you should remove the sediment from the oil before it creeps up into the hot zone and hinders food quality. When your commercial fryer's cold zone is filled with debris, food particles drift up into the hot zone and are re-fried and essentially burnt. This causes your oil to become contaminated and it is also the reason that product taste transfer occurs. Ever wonder why your onion rings taste like your seafood? Maintaining your oil properly requires diligence, but your efforts will be well rewarded with reduced costs in replacing oil (oil cleaned twice a day will last approximately three weeks, while oil that is not filtered will be lucky to survive three days); also, there's no need to buy that expensive second fryer to prevent product taste transfer when clean oil will do the trick; and finally, as the old cliché goes – an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Uncontaminated oil that is free from burnt debris is easier to clean up after, making your equipment maintenance job less problematic. Watch out for smoking oil, which means, either the temperature is too high, or the fat is broken down and needs to be replaced.
  • It's Elementary, My Dear. Maintenance on your commercial fryer revolves around keeping your heating elements in peak working condition. For that reason, clean your heating element frequently. Built up debris makes the heating element work harder to heat up the oil, consequently minimizing your energy-saving possibilities. Use a thermometer to double-check that your fryer is operating at the correct temperature; approximately 325ºF to 350ºF. If the temperature of the oil is considerably different than the thermostat, having it serviced could increase your energy-savings. Keep an eye out for gum in the kettle, which means the fryer is due for a thorough cleaning.
  • Consider Your Options. There is much debate concerning the benefits of gas commercial fryers versus electric commercial fryers. Not so long ago, the energy cost of using a gas appliance was considerably lower than using an electric one. However, with natural gas prices climbing higher and higher every day, the savvy consumer must take into account all the variables when it comes to making this decision. One important variable to consider for both gas and electric fryers is its insulation in comparison to its energy rating (either BTU for gas or KW for electric). Choosing a commercial fryer with the best insulation combined with the lowest energy rating allows you to maximize your energy-savings. Both gas and electric fryers each have their own pros and cons. With an electric commercial fryer, the heating element is inside the oil tank, meaning that there is no wasted heat or energy. This allows the kitchen to remain cooler and your energy use for both the fryer and your air conditioning system are reduced. However, electric fryers do not get as hot or heat up as fast as a gas fryer, whose gas burners are outside the tank. Though gas fryers do have a shorter preheat time, more heat is allowed to escape up and around the sides of the tank. This makes for a possibly hotter kitchen, entailing the need for more air conditioning or a proper ventilation system. The last thing to consider is the design of the fryer in relation to the product to be cooked in it. For example, here at Jean's Restaurant Supply, we have determined that the best fryers for cooking French fries are from the manufacturer Frymaster, while the manufacturer Dean and their fryer's larger cold zone design makes it best for seafood, which deposits substantial amounts of debris.

Using these tips will help you save on your restaurant's energy bill, but always remember to take a step back and look at the big picture. Investigate your commercial cooking equipment options before making a final decision. Saving money up front on an inferior quality piece of equipment will probably end up costing your more in energy overhead, while investing in a piece of higher quality equipment will permit you to use your energy efficiently throughout the life of the equipment. Using energy efficiently can also produce other benefits to your restaurant, such as: improved, more consistent food quality; less waste resulting from reduced food spoilage; and, finally, you can enjoy more comfortable working conditions in the kitchen because wasted heat is reduced. Cleanliness and consistent attention to operational details can make or break your energy-saving efforts, but that is not all. It does no good to become knowledgeable about all these great cost-cutting ideas, if you don't pass the information along. Educate your staff on the proper operation and maintenance of your equipment to help ensure the extended life of your valuable investment.

If you found theese hints helpful, please check out our restaurant equipment energy-saving tips for your commercial ovens , and cook/stovetops . We at Jean's Restaurant Supply are here to answer any of your energy-saving questions and hope that these tips will help you see some improvement on your energy-savings menu.

Patty Gardiner is a memeber of the website development team at Jean's Restaurant Supply, a restaurant and food service supply company offering restaurant equipment such as refrigeration, bar and beverage supplies, dinnerware, concessions and more. She can be reached at 800-840-3610 Monday through Friday from 8 am to 6 pm, Central Standard Time and on Saturday from 9 am to 3 pm Central Standard Time. Or check us out on the web at http://www.jeansrestaurantsupply.com/

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