Blodgett Convection Ovens: Good, Better, and Best
When Gardner Blodgett created an improved wood-burning oven for a local tavern, little did he know that his name would become synonymous with high-quality commercial cooking equipment. Blodgett has been an industry leader in convection ovens for more than 50 years.
With the tagline "Built Like a Blodgett," welded iron frames lead to their ovens’ virtual indestructability. All of these ovens are built in America and adhere to Blodgett's strict quality standards. To satisfy the needs of any restaurant, they have developed several lines ranging from good to better to best to fit the budget and menu of most any operator. Consider just how many bells and whistles you need and want versus how many you can actually afford, and there is sure to be a Blodgett convection oven to fit the needs of your kitchen.
While there are differences in the lines that Blodgett offers, there are some qualities you'll get, no matter which unit you ultimately choose. Whether you're just starting out or upgrading to the best convection oven available, you can't go wrong with one of these models.
One of the most significant selling points with a Blodgett oven is its welded angle-iron frame. This construction keeps the entire unit from sagging, bending, shifting, and becoming loose after years of use, providing you with a reliable oven. The frame will endure decades of constant use, as there are reports of these ovens lasting more than thirty years.
Other manufacturers bolt or screw the frame together. This hardware can fail over time, causing the frame to warp. This will cause the doors to not fit properly, which will ultimately lead to heat loss and inefficiency.
Weighing 25 pounds each, the doors are attached to the welded frame in three locations, which makes them extremely durable. They are also dependent, making them operable with one hand, a function many operators prefer. For doors with windows, strong dual pane thermal glass makes these windows highly resistant to shattering.
These units come standard with porcelain interiors that are durable and easy to clean. The fact that this coating is on both the inside and the outside of the baking chamber helps virtually eliminate rust. Each of the full-size units will hold up to five full-size baking pans. Bakery depth models can hold the same amount, but they can be placed within the oven width- or depth-wise. A half-size unit will hold up to five half-size baking pans.
Blodgett’s insulation is rigid and designed to stay in place and not sag. This feature helps prevent cold or hot spots within the oven. The rigid design of the insulation helps add to the overall solidity and helps to keep heat where it belongs, which means a more efficient oven and less ambient heat in your kitchen. Most of Blodgett's ovens are so energy efficient, they have the coveted ENERGY STAR rating.
A multi-speed, auto-reversing fan with a vent helps to give a consistent bake. Lower speeds allow you to bake thinner batters without damaging the product, while higher speeds will help bake dense products quickly. The varying speeds and directions ensure that the heat properly surrounds the food for even baking every time.
Halogen lights are long lasting and energy-efficient. They also light up the cavity so operators can see inside without opening the doors. Keeping the doors closed keeps the heat inside the unit, which saves on utility costs.
For units that aren't designed for countertop use, models are available that have seismic legs, casters, or low-profile casters to make them easy to mount or maneuver. For prisons and marine use, seismic legs help prevent accidents due to the instability of the surface the oven rests on. Low-profile casters make moving heavier, double-stacked ovens much easier.
- SmartTouch: Technologically advanced touchscreen controls and enough memory to hold up to 255 recipes. These allow for timed cooking and core probe readings at the same time. Individual shelves can be set for differing times, and recipes can be assigned to specific shelves, as well. The SmartTouch control gives you the ability to alter the humidity inside the cavity in 10 percent increments.
- SSI-M: These solid state infinite controls with manual timers are very simple to operate. They have separate manual dials for the thermostat, timer, and fan speed.
- SSI-D: Solid state infinite controls with digital timers that offer the most accurate temperature control. Manual dials control the thermostat and a digital timer offers precise cook times. A simple switch operates the fan for optimal airflow.
- SSD: Solid state digital control with cook and hold and Pulse Plus™ is ideal for general baking and roasting. Delicate bakery batters are safe with these controls, because they make the fan pulse rather than blowing it constantly. These are simple electronic controls with manual dials for the thermostat and a digital time for cook time. The cook and hold feature automatically transfers from the cooking function to the holding one. It will hold food at the right temperature for the amount of time you specify.
Good: The Economy Line
One might think that in order to get an economical price, you have to sacrifice quality. This isn't the case with Blodgett's economy line. With streamlined controls, it's easy to add the durability and dependability that comes with the Blodgett name. Separate manual dials operate the thermostat and the 60-minute electro-mechanical timer. A simple switch allows you to select the speed of the fan. The BDO and SHO models are full size, standard depth ovens available in both electric and gas. The price point of these models make them easily accessible to most any budget, and the controls are simple to operate. The simplicity of the controls, however, don't allow for recipes to be stored in memory. They don't have a cook and hold feature, and these units don't have the capacity to add humidity to them. You'll also want to move up to the mid-level units if you'll be using the oven for delicate batter that would benefit from the fan pulsating as opposed to running full time.
Better: The Zephaire Line
The Zephaire line provides Blodgett quality at an affordable price for those looking to move up from the economy line. They are available in both standard and bakery depths. These are ideal for lower-volume institutions like small schools. With this line, you have the choice between two control packages:
Solid State Manual (SSM) Controls: Separate manual dials control the thermostat and 60-minute timer. A switch controls the fan speed for optimal cooking of delicate batters. An optional water spritzer is also available for added humidity within the unit.
Solid State Digital (SSD) Controls: A manual dial controls the thermostat, but the other functions are maintained by simple electronic controls. The cook and hold function automatically switches between those two operations based on achieving either a set time or temperature, which you determine using simple controls. The Pulse Plus feature pulses the fan gently to keep batter from rippling or spraying out of the pan. This is also manipulated through simple electronic settings.
By stepping up to the mid-level units, you give yourself access to cook and hold capability. This can help save valuable time during rushes. These ovens are available in gas and electric models. They may be standard or bakery depth, and some have roll-in capability. Bakery-depth ovens have slightly larger cavities that help promote air flow within.
Best: The Premium and XCEL Lines
DFG and Mark V series ovens offer dual flow gas, advanced temperature sensing, and cook and hold properties that mean these ovens bake evenly and last decades longer than other ovens. The dual flow gas system provides both direct and indirect heat, making for more evenly cooked results.
These ovens feature removable windows for easy cleaning, a feature you don't see in many convection ovens. The XCEL series allows you to switch between 60,000 and 80,000 BTUs for faster recovery when conditions call for it, such as during peak rush times. These ovens have a temperature range from 150-550 degrees Fahrenheit, and some will allow pan racks to be rolled in.
Like the others, they are available in gas or electric and standard or bakery depths. The premium lines of Blodgett convection ovens also offer half-size units that are ideal for small kitchens that don't want to lose valuable floor space.