Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Commercial Ovens: Quality and Control

By Jackson Blom

An essential item in every kitchen, ovens are closed compartments that are used for baking or other heating purposes. Commercial ovens are efficient machines located in restaurant kitchens that require a high turnover of food material and accuracy in baking methods. The oven has been around for an extremely long time, with remnants of ovens found by archaeologists dating back to 3200 BC. However it was the ancient Greeks that really started to refine the baking process, inventing the front-loading oven that was used to bake all types of dough into bread and even complicated cakes, similar to what we use today.

Whilst having the capacity to produce breads, cakes, and other baked goods, commercial ovens can also be used for roasting savoury foods like meat or casseroles. Industrial ovens can even be used to fire up non-food items like clay or other building materials. The real duty of the oven is to provide an intense and controllable amount of heat, which can be channelled into whatever a needs heating up.

The heat source in commercial ovens can come from either the top or the bottom, which has a different effect on the way the food cooks. For casseroles or food like lasagne in which a browned top is desired, placing it close to a top-heating source is a good idea. However, for baked goods when an even cooking is required, a bottom heat source is better. When in doubt, placing the food in the middle of the oven is a good happy medium.

Commercial ovens are powered by either gas or electricity. In the past, they were fired by coal or wood, and wood is still used in certain circumstances in commercial kitchens, such as the cooking of pizza. Cooking with wood adds some of the smoky flavour into the food. Convection ovens use a fan to move the air around the interior of the chamber, meanwhile steam ovens use a bit of water to add steam into the chamber. All of these ovens can be adjusted depending on what is being cooked.

Amazingly, commercial ovens have the power to clean themselves. For anyone who has spent hours trying to scrub off burnt bits from the bottom of an oven, this comes as a great surprise! There are two types of methods in which this can happen. Self-cleaning ovens use a blast of extreme heat to burn off the dirt, thus dissolving it in this manner. Continuous cleaning ovens on the other hand, are coated on the inside with a catalytic substance that works in opposition with the dirt, dissolving it slowly over time.

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