Frost tops allow you to keep food cold on a serving line or mix ice cream or other frozen treats without worrying about them melting while you mix. They can be recessed into the counter, or elevated slightly. The compressor is generally mounted just below the frost top under the counter, but models that use remote compressors are also available.
Knowing how you will use your frost top can help you narrow down the available models. A recessed frost top is generally preferred when food will be placed on the surface on pans or other flat-bottomed serving containers. The lip around the edge of these frost tops keep the products contained so that they do not slide off and provides a trough through which water from melting condensation is directed away from the food.
An elevated frost top, sometimes called a cold slab, is often used to enable you to mix products like ice cream or frozen yogurt without them melting. The flat, elevated surface is easier to work on than a recessed frost top, and is available in visually appealing options such as black granite for operations where your customers will be watching you mix their food.
As with any kitchen equipment, size is always an important consideration. Frost tops and cold slabs will always list their dimensions, but will often also be listed by how many standard-size (12-in. x 20-in.) pans the surface can hold. You must also make sure that the location where you will be installing the frost top has enough clearance for the compressor, condenser, and the frame they are contained in underneath the surface. Be sure to check the counter cutout dimensions for the model you purchase, as it will be slightly different from the overall dimensions.
Frost tops and cold slabs come with either a remote compressor or a built-in compressor mounted directly below the unit. A remote compressor, if you have the set-up for it, can save you space under the frost top and lessen the ambient heat that it will put off in your work area. However, you will still need to have an evaporator mounted underneath, so a remote compressor will not completely eliminate the need for space underneath. Some models that include the compressor underneath the frost top or cold slab offer several options in the positioning of the frame that it sits in, so you can set up the configuration that works best for the space where you will be installing it.
There are several options available for frost tops or cold slabs that can make their usage and maintenance much easier and more convenient.
- Frost tops that have a built-in compressor usually have their controls, including the on/off switch, mounted on the front of the compressor, which may be inconvenient to access under the counter. For easy access, opt for a model with a remote control panel that can be mounted somewhere nearby the frost top.
- Some units come with a recessed area around the flat surface to capture any liquid runoff.
- A drain, which is available on some units (usually those with a recessed area) can make cleaning the frost top much easier.
- If you will be using one in a serving line alongside heated wells, some manufacturers match those to their frost tops for a streamlined appearance.