Blast chillers aren’t only for restaurants. If you’re thinking of purchasing a small blast chiller for your home, this article will provide integral information.
Should you get a small blast chiller for the home? A small blast chiller is a viable purchase if you run a food-based business out of your home. For the everyday cook though, upgrading your existing freezer’s capacity should suffice.
In this guide, I’ll tell you everything you need to know about household blast chillers, from what they do, their benefits, price range, maintenance, and more. By the time you’re done reading, you should be able to determine whether a small blast chiller is right for you.
What Is a Blast Chiller?
If you’ve ever gotten a behind-the-scenes glimpse into a restaurant, then you’ve likely seen the large metallic units lining the back wall. They look like oversized refrigerators.
These units are blast chillers aka flash freezers.
A blast chiller utilizes a food cooling method that’s appropriately enough known as blast chilling. When blast chilling food, the goal is to reduce the food’s temperature to such a point that bacterial growth cannot occur.
The temperatures that cause the fastest rate of bacterial multiplication are between 46 and 154 degrees Fahrenheit. A blast chiller can take food that’s at least 158 degrees, and then within 90 minutes, lower the temperature until it’s 37 degrees or lower.
It’s not just that the temperature comes down. As the blast chiller reduces the food’s temperature, it also limits how many ice crystals develop on the food.
As you know if you’ve ever defrosted a steak or chicken that’s covered in ice crystals, the more ice crystals, the more moisture as you thaw your dinner. Too much moisture can lessen your food’s quality and flavor even though the meal is still fresh.
Inside a blast chiller, it doesn’t look all that different from your standard household refrigerator. The chiller has shelves for storing food of all sorts.
You can put food into the blast chiller when it’s still piping hot. Do keep in mind though that the greater the quantities of hot food, the longer it will usually take for the blast chiller to reduce the food’s temperature.
The best workaround for this issue is to cut down the food or separate it and pack it in smaller quantities.
The Benefits of Blast Chilling
Now that you understand how blast chilling works, you might be more interested than ever in buying a small blast chiller for your home.
If you decide to proceed with procuring the equipment, what are some benefits you can enjoy? Here’s an overview.
Lowers Bacterial Risks
By far, the biggest advantage of blast chilling is the reduced risk of contracting bacteria from storing your food.
Staphylococcus and E. coli are the two main types of bacteria that can grow from food that’s improperly stored.
The Staphylococcus bacteria can cause staph infections. Some strains of this bacteria such as the Staphylococcus aureus contribute to joint and bone infections, pneumonia, and bloodstream infections, all of which can be serious.
E. coli leads to symptoms like vomiting, nausea, cramps, fever, and bloody or watery diarrhea. In young patients such as children, kidney failure can occur from a serious E. coli infection, and the infection can sometimes be fatal.
Can Cool Beverages as Well as Food
Blast chillers aren’t only useful for freezing warm or hot foods, but beverages as well. If you have a collection of spirits you’re keeping at room temperature, you can bring the beverages down to an adequate temp range using your blast chiller.
Maintains Freshness and Just the Right Amount of Moisture
Blast chillers are designed to control moisture to keep your food fresh, but not all moisture is bad. By imparting just as much moisture as needed, your food has a succulent quality to it like it would when it’s freshly prepared.
Keeps Cold Food Creamy
Do you make a lot of smooth, creamy foods such as ice cream, sorbet, soup, or pasta? If so, then you probably know all too well how traditional freezers will produce so many ice crystals that the creamy consistency never comes back.
A blast chiller holds onto the creamy texture longer so that eating the above foods is an utter delight.
The Downsides of Blast Chilling
In helping you decide whether a small blast chiller is right for you, you have to take into account the negatives and the positives. Here are some downsides of owning a blast chiller.
I’ll talk more in the next section about the cost of blast chillers, but even small household ones are going to be a huge expense.
If you have a ginormous budget for kitchen upgrades, then maybe this isn’t such a big deal. For those who want to limit expenses when remodeling or upgrading their kitchen though, a blast chiller might be outside of their budget.
Needs a Lot of Space
While they do make countertop blast chiller models, even the smaller countertop blast chillers are not necessarily as tiny as you were hoping they’d be. On average, they measure roughly 30 inches wide by 35 inches high and 25 inches long.
A household blast chiller isn’t as tall as your refrigerator, but it is about as wide. You’d need room for both appliances in your kitchen unless you plan on plugging in your blast chiller elsewhere in the house.
On top of all that, even small blast chillers are surprisingly unwieldy. They weigh on average 100 pounds but can sometimes be twice that.
Sucks up Significant Energy
The fast rate of freezing that a blast chiller is capable of does come at a cost. Blast chillers are not eco-friendly appliances unless yours is certified through Energy Star. If it isn’t, then you can expect an increase in your monthly utility bills.
How Much Does a Small Blast Chiller Cost?
I mentioned in the last section that household blast chillers are expensive, but precisely how much money would you spend on one?
That varies by model, but the average price for even a small blast chiller is around $1,500. High-end blast chillers cost up to $5,000, which is quite a lot of money to spend on an appliance!
Buying a blast chiller would cost as much as purchasing a new fridge, as the average cost for this appliance is between $1,000 and $2,000. Unlike a fridge though, your blast chiller lacks as much capacity, and you can’t use it for everyday food storage.
Can you find more affordable small blast chillers for less than $1,000? Sure, they’re out there, but you know the old saying. You get what you pay for, and that applies here especially.
How Long Does a Blast Chiller Last?
As an appliance, your blast chiller’s life is finite. These units last for five to 10 years on average, which is not a long time considering you dropped several thousand dollars for one.
Factors such as the manufacturer and your level of care can determine the blast chiller’s lifespan, as can how much you use it. Fortunately, I have some blast chiller maintenance tips in the next section so you might squeeze a few more years out of yours should you decide to buy one.
Blast Chiller Maintenance Tips
As promised, here are some tactics and pointers to keep your blast chiller in good condition for a long time to come.
Don’t Leave It Running All the Time
You would never turn your fridge or freezer off when you didn’t need it, as whatever was in there would spoil.
Blast chillers do not work the same way. You shouldn’t unplug the unit when you have frozen food in there. When it’s empty though, there’s no reason to keep the chiller running.
All you’re doing is jacking up your energy bill for the month, not to mention you’re straining the unit unnecessarily. Unplug or turn off the blast chiller until you need it again and yours should last longer.
Clean Out the Interior Every Week
Once per week, take everything out of the blast chiller so you can wipe down its interior. You only need detergent and lukewarm water for this basic cleaning work, well, unless you have stubborn stains.
In that case, I’d recommend you defer to the manufacturer. Check your owner’s manual for acceptable cleaning products and methods.
More than likely, your blast chiller will have mostly stainless steel components. If you use harsh cleaners, pressurized water, or sharp-edged scrubbers or tools, the steel will begin to degrade over time. Your expensive blast chiller will look terrible.
As you clean, don’t forget the door gasket, although you should only use water for it.
Make sure you get in all the crevices and openings so food debris can’t linger. If you wipe the gasket every week, then it shouldn’t get so dirty that water is insufficient to clean it.
Don’t allow the gasket to air-dry. Instead, use a soft, dry cloth.
Use the Blast Chiller’s Sanitation Cycle
Higher-end blast chillers will include a sanitation cycle. After cleaning and drying the interior of the unit, you can run the cycle.
What does the sanitation cycle do? Through UV light or ozone, the blast chiller destroys germs and bacteria.
After the cleanup is done, it’s a good idea to inspect your blast chiller inside and out to ascertain its condition.
Check all wires for signs of fraying or other damage. Go one probe at a time to determine whether they’re working.
Clean the drain lines too if you must, as if they get too much condensate, they’ll become backed up.
Clean the Other Parts Periodically
About every month or every quarter, you can take care of blast chiller maintenance jobs that are more infrequent but still important.
One of these jobs is removing condenser coil dust and dirt. Accumulations on the coils can prevent the blast chiller from adequately cooling your food. In a worst-case scenario, the compressor will begin overheating and your blast chiller will stop working altogether.
Using a vacuum cleaner and its wand attachment should suffice for cleaning the coil. Make sure you follow the coil’s fin direction as you clean to avoid damage.
Sometimes, the condenser coil won’t be dirty so much as it’s greasy or grimy. In that case, some dish soap and water can cleanse the coil. A soft bristle brush is the recommended cleaning instrument for this job.
When you’re done with the condenser coil, then clean the drain line pan with detergent and water. Wipe down the evaporator assembly and the condensing unit’s fan blade.
Watch What You Store in There
How you store your food in the blast chiller can affect its efficiency. For example, if you put plastic on a pan in the chiller, the plastic can get into the condensers.
Stacking small pans on top of larger sheet pans can also prevent the blast chiller from cooling as intended.
Should You Get a Small Blast Chiller for Your Home?
To wrap up, I want to address the question that I’m sure is at the top of your mind. Is a small blast chiller for your home a good idea?
Despite that they come in a range of sizes, most blast chillers are used for commercial operations, especially in restaurants.
These establishments deal with large quantities of food all the time and having a blast chiller allows the restaurant to preserve meals and ingredients for better customer satisfaction.
If you operate a commercial food business out of your home kitchen, then a blast chiller makes sense. For everyday cooking and food storage though, your fridge and freezer are just fine.
Besides, blast chillers are quite expensive. Another issue is they rarely indicate they’re having issues until a component breaks or the whole unit fails.
This can make it hard to determine when you’ll have to shell out for new parts, and trust me, doing that won’t be cheap.
If you really want a blast chiller for your home, I’m not here to dissuade you, but you should certainly keep the above points in mind as you proceed.