While these sandwich steamers are relatively straightforward, there are some choices that are available. You'll need to determine whether you need connections or someone to fill and empty the unit. You'll also need to know what kind of finish you desire to complete your look. In order to decide which of these steamers best fits your needs, consider what you'll be preparing and how much space you have in your preparation area.
The maximum pan capacity for drawer style is either half-sized pans or two-thirds pans. Basket–style units typically hold a single portion, and some of these units will allow for two baskets.
Sandwich steamers with direct plumbing connections for water supply and drainage provide convenience that many restaurants demand. These models have auto fill and draining, making daily operation simpler. Connectionless units are ideal for locations that have no water hook-ups or where installation of a water connection may be difficult. These units require manual fill and emptying, so they are typically best suited for smaller operations.
It will also be important to consider the reservoir capacity, so you can ensure you're getting a unit that will be able to keep up with your demand.
Most countertop deli steamers come equipped with one or two drawers. This is helpful when heating multiple items that need to warm at different rates. By having two drawers, food that isn't needed as often can be kept separate from high-volume items, keeping heat where it belongs. Top-load models will either have a hinged top for placing items directly into the steamer, or portion baskets that slide into slots on the top.
Programmable controls deliver a consistent amount of steam and offer simple operation. Temperature, time, and the steam pulse cycles can be automated, which can help in establishments with high employee turn-over rates. Steamers with a mirror finish can add to the atmosphere of your restaurant or deli but may be more difficult to keep clean.
Constant steam models maintain the amount of steam in the unit at a reliable level. This quality is most important for warming high-demand items. Pulse-style operation means that pulses of steam are released either in a single shot, pulsate over a certain time period, or within an operator-set cycle. This would be particularly beneficial when using your sandwich steamer to warm one item at a time.