Buying Guide: How to Choose Kettles for Your Foodservice Establishment

Buying Guide: How to Choose Kettles for Your Foodservice Establishment

Steam kettles heat food indirectly through the use of steam that is inserted and encapsulated in a steam jacket (a secondary wall behind the Commercial Kettle). The amount of added pressure determines the temperature. Benefits include; faster cook times, uniform cooking and less burning.

Jacket Type

Full

Typically reserved for larger Commercial Kettles that are stationary, full jackets cover the entire exterior of the Commercial Kettle. The spout is usually at the bottom of the chamber to drain the contents. 

Best for floor models, large Commercial Kettles, large volume outputs.

Partial

⅔ jackets cover only ⅔ of the Commercial Kettle, leaving the top ⅓ exposed to allow for a spout for easy pouring. This makes partial jacket Commercial Kettles best for tilting models.

Best for tilting kettles, Commercial Kettles that need easy pouring, countertop models.

Jacket Type Kettles

Volume/Size

As with any piece of equipment, you’ll want to take into consideration the amount of food you need to prepare in any given batch as well as how often you plan to use your unit. When choosing your Commercial Kettle size, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Am I choosing a countertop or floor model? If you’re already restricted to, say, a countertop model, then know that the size of your Commercial Kettle will likely be smaller. Countertop models max out at a volume of around 10 gallons.
  • How much do I need to prepare? This question may actually impact whether or not you choose a countertop or floor model, as larger batches (15 gallons or more) will be reserved for floor models only. Using a larger Commercial Kettle will allow you to cook reserves without having to start over with a new batch when business gets busy. Some restaurants will cook larger batches, blast chill a percentage and rethermalize that portion a day or two later. The food quality is almost as good as fresh and time, labor and energy are saved.
  • How often will I need to prepare food in the Commercial Kettle? If you’re only needing to prepare small batches on a frequent basis, then it may be better for quality purposes to opt for a smaller Commercial Kettle. If you know that you may hit peak times with larger volumes, though, then you’ll always want to oversize your equipment to accommodate for those rushes. While it’s not optimum, you can cook smaller batches in a larger Commercial Kettle but not the reverse.

Power Source 

Like many of your commercial kitchen appliances and units, Commercial Kettles also come in gas or electric options.

Gas

For gas models, you’ll need a natural gas line. Thus, these Commercial Kettles tend to be used more for larger units because the gas steam producing element is bulky. May require a hood (In any case, hoods are useful to evacuate the heat).

Best for larger Commercial Kettles, floor models, kitchens with gas hookup (where gas costs are lower).

Electric

While only needing an electric hookup, these models will logically use more electricity than gas counterparts.

Best for small Commercial Kettles and Commercial Kettles needing mobility, countertop models.

Steam

Some Commercial Kettles don’t utilize their own heat source but, rather, use a separate steam generator to power the Commercial Kettle. This tends to be a good choice with: 

  • Large, floor model kettles
  • Several Commercial Kettles operating at once
  • Large volume outputs

Steam generators are stand-alone units purchased in addition to your Commercial Kettle that create steam which is then directed into the unit. Steam generators can be either gas or electric.

Stationary vs Tilting

We’ve mentioned before how some Commercial Kettles have the ability to tilt. These are similar to tilting braising pans in many ways. The major distinguishing factor between braising pans and Commercial Kettles is the steam jacket.  

Stationary

These are typically safer for large volume productions. Stationary kettles utilize a spigot (various sizes and styles are available) at the bottom of the cavity for easy pouring. Keep in mind that the spout can get clogged, so regular cleaning is required.

Best for floor models, large batch productions, liquids and soups with no large chunks that could clog the spout (unless you opt for a large spout, up tp 3’’). 

Tilting

All smaller units and on more expensive larger models. A tilting kettle gives users the ability to pour the contents out of a spout formed at the top lip of the Commercial Kettle.

Best for countertop models, small batch productions and “chunky” products.

Stationary Kettles

Further Reading…

You may be asking yourself whether or not you should choose a Commercial Kettle over a braising pan if they’re essentially the same. Tilting braising pans tend to scorch foods more readily than steam jacketed Commercial Kettles, as Commercial Kettles heat foods indirectly through steam. The benefit to a braising pan is that you’re able to saute or braise items if need be, giving them a slight edge in versatility. A braising pan will allow you to saute first and then add the liquid parts later, giving you the benefits of both the braising and simmering. 

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