Soft Serve Machines: Performing Routine Maintenance
Your soft serve ice cream machine has likely seen itself working overtime for the past few months, and while the winter weather may help give it some relief from constant use, many will continue to keep their machines in working order for buffet lines and self-service dessert stations. While regular maintenance on any of your pieces of commercial kitchen equipment is essential, the added bonus is that of an improved food safety environment. Keep in mind that it’s important to follow health codes when servicing your own ice cream machine, and always read instructions from the manufacturer, ensuring that their recommendations take precedence where these tips and their guides don’t line up. Here are a few maintenance tips for your soft serve machine as reviewed and confirmed by Jeff Resnick with Spaceman USA.
Daily to Weekly Maintenance
Throughout the day, it’s always important for employees to continually wipe clean the dispensing towers and to empty out the troughs that accumulate melted ice cream. In addition, you’ll also want to completely disassemble the unit and clean it on a daily or weekly basis (depending on usage and local health codes). Some manufacturers offer heat treatment soft-serve equipment that only has to be disassembled and cleaned once every 14 days which can save on labor, water, and chemicals - all while enhancing food safety!
Remember to give the outside panels a quick wipe-down at the end of each shift as well to keep fingerprints at bay and smudges to a minimum, which can both be an aesthetic eyesore.
Every 3 to 6 Months
Different working parts of your ice cream machine will suffer the normal wear and tear that comes with regular usage. Such parts include O rings, rear seals, and scraper blades. Every 3 to 6 months, do a check of these parts, in particular, noting that they typically will need to be replaced on a quarterly basis at a minimum due to normal breakdowns in their integrity. Blades, in particular, can compromise the unit and cause longer freeze times if they are not in good condition because they can begin to leave a film of frozen product on the cylinder walls.
Depending on which type of unit you have, you will need to check the following annually:
Air-Cooled Units: Clean condenser coils to prevent the buildup of dust, lint, and debris.
Water-Cooled Units: Check the water regularly.
Fortunately, many units will feature lights that can signal to the user if any parts of your ice cream machine are in need of service, helping to catch breakdowns before they become bigger issues.