Burner Styles For Every Need
One of the most essential tools in the kitchen is a commercial burner. It is integrated in every kitchen so seamlessly that it almost goes unnoticed, but burners are vital to your foodservice operation. They provide the heat required to create delicious dishes and they most certainly have a hand in the efficiency of how you prepare meals.
And just as you need specific cookware to perfect a certain cooking technique, the right style of cooktop will also factor in how you get the results you’re after. Your cooking range needs to be in sync with the rest of your kitchen setup.
When you start your search for a cooking range for your commercial kitchen, it is easy to get lost and overwhelmed with the several burner styles you are presented with. But the abundance of options can be an advantage. Not all kitchens are the same and the more choices you have, the more you are able to best tailor your equipment to your specifications.
So we are here to assist you in dissecting what the market has to offer. Let’s talk about the most common burner styles available in commercial ranges so you can get a better understanding of how they work and determine which ones are best for your menu.
1. Open Burners with Grates
Open burners are the classic cooktop configuration found in every kitchen. This style of burner is highly versatile and can pretty much get all your cooking tasks done. The powerful gas burner sits beneath a grate that is made of either cast-iron or steel. The heat travels from the burner itself to the grate, which will transfer the heat to the bottom of the cookware.
Keep in mind that cast-iron takes longer to heat up, but when it does, it retains that heat much longer, which means the recovery time from each cooking session will be short. Cast-iron grates might be cumbersome to clean because they tend to be very heavy.
The strength of the stainless steel grates is in the quick heating and durability. Grates with this material have better protection against rust and corrosion compared to cast iron and they are much easier to clean. However, they fall short on heat retention compared to cast-iron.
The same is true for when we talk about other burner styles with cast-iron and stainless steel construction.
2. Griddle Top
Griddle tops feature a thick flat stainless steel plate that serves as the cooking surface, eliminating the need for separate cookware. You can directly place the food on the plate, which generates even heat across the surface.
The stainless steel or galvanized steel sides serve as splash guards to prevent oil from spilling into other equipment or splashing onto the back wall. At the front is a trough where excess grease from cooking is extracted.
Griddle tops are perfect for use in restaurants that serve a variety of breakfast favorites and short-order items such as pancakes, waffles, bacon, French toast, and hash browns. Griddles also work well for cooking sandwiches and burgers. The thickness of the plate plays a role in the amount of food that you can cook on the plate at the same time. For heavy commercial use, you will be served well with a 1" thick steel plate.
H-Shaped and U-Shaped
H-shaped and U-shaped burners are often used on griddles. As the names of these burners suggest, they create heat in the shape of letter “H” or letter “U”. Because of this, these burners won’t have even heat and will create colder spots.
3. French Top
As much as we love all that power to cook with, some foods are just too delicate for high heat. French hot plates offer spacious flat cooking surfaces that feature multiple rings. These rings disperse the heat throughout the plate, creating varying degrees of temperature. The central ring is where it is hottest. As you move to outer rings, the heat becomes one step less intense.
French hot plates are more versatile than hot tops in that they use indirect heat to ensure that the food won’t boil over or spill out of the pot or pan when cooking. They can provide the gentle, more controlled heat required to cook delicate food items like chocolate to perfection without worrying about scorching or overheating. This makes them ideal for simmering most kinds of sauces and liquid food items.
You won’t have to push a button or control a knob to change the temperature. You can simply move through the plate to get the level of heat you need. This allows you to place a number of sauce pans and pots on different parts of the surface at a time. You can be simmering sauces at the center ring and boiling pasta and delicate food items like chocolate on the outer rings all at the same time. You can also simply move the cookware to the outer edges if lower heat is required.
French burners are made more flexible in that it doesn’t choose a shape or size of the cookware, The center ring can be removed to accommodate a wok and then pans for sauteing can be used on the outer rings.
Unlike griddles, a French top requires a pan, pot, or any other cookware so that you can cook food with many ingredients such as broths and stews. A lot of French tops are usually found in electric ranges. French tops are either made of cast iron or steel. As stated above, cast-iron has rapid heating and great heat retention.
Plancha tops are often compared to grills and griddles. While they may have similar functions, a plancha has a few tricks and can do things in a unique way. These units can deliver high temperatures with a maximum of 800°F, much higher than griddles, which can only go up to 550°F.
The heat is concentrated at the center of the surface where the burner sits directly below while decreased levels of heat are generated as you move to the outer zones, which makes them perfect for searing meats and vegetables as well as cooking delicate food. Plancha units are typically controlled manually so that the extremes of the temperature can be reached easily when needed. Like French tops, planchas are typically made of cast-iron or steel.
Unlike on grills, plancha tops can maintain consistent temperatures, eliminating the need to move meats or burgers to a hotter spot on the grill to sear the meat. This means you can perform continuous grilling without recovery time, speeding up your operation and increasing your production capacity.
5. Hot Top
Hot tops have a flat cooking surface that generates even heat throughout the plate. You can’t place food directly like you can on a griddle. Cookware will be required, and for most foodservice applications, it is for cooking soups and stews in a stockpot. Hot tops generally have a higher heat input compared to open burners. And since they are completely flat, it is less cumbersome to move heavy pots and pans around the cooking surface, minimizing risks of accidents and spills.
The Best Burner Style For You
You don’t have to stick to just one as most commercial ranges mix and match these burner styles because some foods are better cooked on one or the other.
Odds are you will need more than one style of burner to support your production and cook a diverse menu. Commercial ranges combine different types into one cooking powerhouse so you can get all your cooking tasks done from a powerful single piece of equipment.
If you are still unsure about which type to get for your operation, feel free to give us a call and we’ll be more than happy to find the best cooking range for your specific needs.