These ovens take the principal of convection to a new level, with rapid jets of heated air bombarding food to provide even heating and help break up the bubble of cold air that can surround foods, which means an impingement oven can provide quick cooking times. This type works well in pizzerias, particularly chain shops and others that do high volumes, which is why it's sometimes referred to as an impinger pizza oven. It also plays a big part in countless sandwich shops, and can be used for everything from retherming vegetables to heating pasta.
Types of Impinger Ovens
The majority of these ovens are of the conveyor type, which means they employ a conveyor belt to move food through the cooking chamber. This type offers a high degree of automation, allowing operators to start the oven, place food on one end, and retrieve it from the other when it's done. There's no need to check the food in the meantime or monitor the cooking time.
High speed impingement ovens incorporate additional cooking technology like microwave radiation into the mix to help cook products even faster. Many of these incorporate a conveyor belt while others rely on stationary racks like traditional ovens.
Deck-style ovens cook food as it sits on a stone or metal deck. Heat is absorbed into the deck from elements above and radiated through it from elements below. The thick cooking level then conducts that heat to food to create crispy crusts, while the impinging air heats food thoroughly from above. This style of cooking lends itself well to cooking loaves of bread, pretzels, and pizza dough.
For conveyor models, the speed of the belt, which controls the amount of time foods spend in the heat, can easily be adjusted to ensure the right cooking time for whatever dish is being sent through. To determine how much you'll be able to bake in your oven at one time, look at the belt size.
A wide belt is good for cooking high volumes of the same product, since you'll be able to fit more products side by side to be baked at the same temperature. This measure is also important if you'll be cooking pizzas of large diameter or in wide dishes or pans.
The other dimension - belt length - will give you an idea of how many products you can send through the unit at once. High-volume eateries are advised to choose a long belt, which allow operators to load food, start the oven, and go focus on other tasks while the food is baking. These also make it possible to have more foods in the unit at once, with more room for loading and unloading.
With the right setup, a landing platform at the output end of the oven can receive finished foods and hold them until the operator is free to pick them up. That eliminates the worry of having to be there to catch food before it falls to the counter or floor below. It can also allow time for cookware to cool slightly before it's picked up.
You can save some space in the kitchen with stacking ovens. These can be stacked double and sometimes even triple high. Even if you just need one oven now, select a stackable unit so you can easily expand your kitchen's capacity as your business grows without taking up any more floor space.
Gas or Electric?
The choice between gas- and electric-powered equipment depends largely on which is more convenient, but it sometimes comes down to personal preference. Some chefs prefer the quick heating and familiarity of gas, but it may not be available in all areas. Electricity is perceived by some as being safer, and in many areas it is more affordable or easier to access.