Bring the healthy and cost-effective preparation option of steam cooking to your institutional kitchen. Pressure steamers can produce steam that's hotter than that created by unpressurized models, meaning you can cook your foods more quickly. These units offer a variety of options, from the number of compartments to the way the unit is heated, so take these under advisement when choosing the one that is right for your establishment.
- Countertop versions do not add to the footprint in your kitchen, but they do take up counter space. These are typically less expensive to purchase than their floor- model counterparts, but their capacity and output are also limited. These units are stackable, however, so purchasing more than one will give you more capacity without sacrificing more counter space.
- Floor models are usually 36 inches wide and vary in height, depending on the number of compartments or drawers the unit has. These units are designed to withstand heavy use and abuse, so if the atmosphere of your establishment is a demanding one, a floor model may work best for you.
- Electric steamers may be desirable because they can be wired in virtually anywhere. Electricity is a convenient option because you won't need to worry about having room for a gas tank or adding natural gas lines. It is important to keep in mind that electricity takes longer to heat, and gas reaches higher temperatures.
- High pressure steamers use a steam coil to generate steam from the interior boiler. The steam in that system doesn't come into contact with the food itself, but only warms the water that does create the cooking steam. Still, good water should be used to avoid unnecessary damage to the unit. Descaling is a labor-intensive process that can be lessened by using softer water. Failure to descale the unit can lead to hot spots, overheating, and potentially rupture.
- Those that use direct steam, however, do need to use water that is high quality. If you wouldn't drink it, you shouldn't use it to cook your food. If you want a steamer that uses direct steam, you may not want to tie into existing boilers. Bad water can cause poor food quality, as well as health issues caused by contaminants found in old boilers.
- Gas steamers burn one of two types of gas. Liquid propane costs more than natural gas, but there are some details beyond cost that need to be weighed before choosing between the two.
- Pressure steamers that burn natural gas (NG) are usually more energy efficient than electric ones. It is important to contact your utility provider to make sure it is available in your area.
- Units using liquid propane (LP) are also efficient, but you must take into consideration the amount of space the gas tanks will need.
- Boilerless steamers are a good option for restaurant owners who are looking to avoid some of the problems that come with units that have boilers. These units don't require water filtration or treatment and don't require descaling. Operating and maintenance costs tend to be reduced without adding to cooking time.
- Boiler-based pressure steamers can either be self-contained or tie into an existing boiler system. Steam is generated within the boiler and then it diffuses throughout the unit, either directly or through a coil.
- Connectionless steamers generally need to be filled and emptied manually, but some units can be connected only to a water supply. They don't drain directly into a sewer, so an employee must empty the hot waste water, which could result in burns.
- Steamers with an external source generate their heat from a burner that is not inside the water reservoir. These will require the additional purchase of a steam generator to function properly.
Manual controls tend to be more durable and easier to replace than digital ones. Digital controls, on the other hand, make programming time and temperature simple for workers with limited skills or in kitchens with high employee turnover rates.
Some of our smaller, countertop versions will hold a half-size pan. This is a viable energy-saving option for light-duty applications. Full pans are the most versatile. The maximized surface area of full-size pans makes moving, holding, and steaming food items simple and efficient. Drawer type units are great for maximizing the space within the steamer, but they are limited in the flexibility to accommodate anything other than standard-sized pans.
Number of Compartments
Most pressure steamers will have one, two, three, or four compartments. Many of these compartments are independently controlled and have removable shelves and pan supports.
- A compensating thermostat allows users to thaw frozen products before setting the unit to pressurized operation. The thermostat compensates for the frozen state of the food and adjusts when the food is thawed.
- Descaling ports make it easy to add descaling solution required for preventative maintenance, as well as when lime build-up symptoms occur.
- Many steamers come equipped with integral kettles that can run off the steam generated by the pressurized cabinet. This allows for cooking additional products without added energy costs.
- Some pressure steamers include worktops that present added workspace for loading and unloading food items.
- Many areas require condensate to be cooled to below 140 degrees Fahrenheit before it is emptied into the sewer. Units with a condensate drain make this an easy accommodation.
- If the pressure steamer you're interested in has a convection mode option, air within the unit can be moved around by a fan that is operable only when the unit is in that mode.