In system gastronomy and large cafeterias, consistent quality and ready availability play a key role. For this reason, perishable ingredients are kept frozen so that they can be freshly prepared at the right time. This sounds simple, but it is a real logistical challenge. After all, before kitchen staff can bake, fry, or deep-fry the food, it must first be completely thawed. And that takes more or less time, energy, and space.
Two methods have been widely used so far.
One is walk-in cold rooms, where larger quantities can be thawed at a constant temperature. The rooms take up a lot of space in the kitchen, and the thawing process takes a long time: between one and three days. The other method is a water bath. With this, the food is ready to use after only one or two hours. However, only a small amount will fit in the stainless steel tubs, and because the frozen food is thawed using constantly flowing water, an enormous amount of water is consumed.
Full control during thawing
Electrolux Professional therefore developed a third method for its customers years ago: the thawing cabinet. The unit is no bigger than a refrigerator but can thaw up to 66 kilograms of food in around six hours. “The cabinet brings food from negative 20 degrees Celsius to between zero and five degrees, and does so in a fully controlled and monitored environment,” explains Alessandra Accordi, product manager at Electrolux Professional in Pordenone. “We can thereby ensure that the entire thawing process is efficient and reliable.” This is particularly important for sensitive products such as poultry.
“The variable speed of the EC motor gives us more flexibility in thawing cycles.”Alessandra Accordi, Product Manager Electrolux Professional
Greater flexibility thanks to variable speed
When it came to the new fan for distributing the temperature-controlled air inside the cabinet, Accordi relied on a proven partner: “We had been working with ebm-papst for a very long time, so we approached Fabio Milani.” The key account manager suggested an EC centrifugal blower for the job. The blower is extremely energy-efficient, very compact, and already has the matching flange for connection to the appliance. But another feature proved to be even more decisive. “The variable speed of the EC motor gives us more flexibility with the thawing cycles,” enthuses Accordi. Unlike the other two thawing methods, the cabinet doesn’t work with a constant temperature, but with varying temperatures. And the fan must also adapt to these.
Simple and economical
This now makes things extremely straightforward for users: They select the thawing program based on the type, size, and quantity of the frozen food and press “Start.” The food is ready for use after three to six hours.
Since the cabinet can also refrigerate, even delicate foods can be thawed for later use and remain in the cabinet until further processing. “This allows users to better manage their inventory and avoid waste,” Accordi says. “So the cabinet offers maximum capacity in the smallest possible space.” Electrolux Professional and ebm-papst are also continuing to work on developing this solution, evaluating different opportunities for various market segments.
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