What do you want in a commercial ice cream freezer? The answer probably has a lot to do with your business and what you’re selling – as well as how your customers get access to your tasty frozen wares, and how long you want to keep your product in inventory.
There’s also some sophistication in the conversation around how cold you keep various kinds of frozen treats, from ice cream to items like gelato and sorbet, based on exactly how you want your customers to experience their cone or dish.
Let’s go through some of this to help you in shopping for storage and display commercial ice cream freezer models that will work out best for your business operations.
Types of Commercial Ice Cream Freezer Options
The types of freezers that you use for ice cream storage may be different than those you will use to display the product in a restaurant or store.
In addition, you have your traditional ice cream freezers, and your freezers that accommodate soft-serve, where a common metric is “quarts (served) per hour,” because you’re pulling the lever to fill a cone or container directly from the freezer compartment.
In addition, you have to choose the size and shape of your freezers according to your inventory and how you want to serve it.
Ice Cream (And Froyo, Gelato and Sorbet) Storage
For traditional “hard” scoop ice cream, most experts agree that it’s good to keep the product in storage under 0 degrees fahrenheit. One common rule of thumb is to keep ice cream stored from -10 to -20 degrees fahrenheit. Ultimately, it’s usually going to be served above this temperature, to allow for a creamier and more delicious experience for the customer.
Gelato, frozen yogurt, and sorbet are three other kinds of products with lower levels of butterfat that are usually kept, displayed and served at warmer temperature ranges, for example, from 10 to 22 degrees fahrenheit.
The key with all of these products is to prevent the kinds of defrosting that create hard or crunchy ice crystals to form. In order to properly handle a product for a smooth, creamy result, the temperatures have to be just right throughout the entire supply chain process.
Important Factors for Choosing a Commercial Ice Cream Freezer
In choosing the best commercial ice cream storage and display freezers, you’ll need to think about the above temperature logistics, as well as several other major factors:
- Capacity – you want your commercial ice cream refrigerator or freezer to have enough capacity to store and display everything that you want your shoppers to be able to buy. How many flavors do you want on your display line? How many people will be using scoops or trowels to dig that ice cream out of the containers and serve it to customers? For that matter, will you be purchasing your product in square or round containers? That makes a difference, too.
- Efficiency – energy efficiency is also a concern with these types of products. Some commercial ice cream freezers and gelato display freezer models come with something called an Energy Conservation Mode that helps to cut down on the power that you use for handling your ice cream or other product.
- More Temperature Control – specific types of commercial ice cream refrigerators and freezers have temperature ranges that will help you to micromanage how you treat your ice cream or other frozen substance. For example, one dual temperature display/store model from Excellence Industries has a wide range thermostat of 40 to -15 degrees fahrenheit, so that operators can change temperature precisely over time. For a storage freezer, check out this ice cream display 31” model from Master-Bilt with a range from 10 to -18 degrees fahrenheit (convert to celsius as necessary).
- Pro tip – remember that the exact temperature of service makes a difference, particularly for ice cream. If it’s too cold, it’s hard and difficult to eat. On the other hand, if you’re serving in a hot climate, getting that additional lower temperature can help. There are some who swear that the best temp for ice cream to be served at is between -10 and 0 degrees F, and others who suggest a range like 6 to 10 degrees. Generally, though, ice cream that is too cold keeps the taster from finding more flavor, so keep that in mind, and do some in-house testing.
Rails and Accessories
Another helpful feature for commercial ice cream freezers is interior rails to keep sundae toppings and other additions to your ice cream menu options. You also want to think about the doors of the freezer, and how they work for all day use. Some of the display cabinets most typically used for service have nice rolling tops, and sneeze guards for keeping everything clean.
Frost Top Surfaces
Our guide to commercial ice cream freezers wouldn’t be complete without a few words about frost top tools.
If you’ve ever seen a skilled ice cream chef expertly handle globs or walls of ice cream and other tasty ingredients with something that looks like a painter’s putty knife, you’ve probably seen a frost top at work. The smooth, flat surfaces keep items below freezing temperatures, while food service workers manipulate them to add ingredients or create different textures in ways that are going the extra mile beyond simple ice cream scooping.
Using a frost top, your people can chop up frozen goodies and add candy or other ingredients. They can mix in brownie batter and make ice cream roll-ups. They can do lots of specialized things that can enhance what your business is able to provide when the doors are open.
For more on this and other types of options, check out Chefs’ Toys, where we are “for chefs, by chefs.” We have the actual kitchen experience that helps us to provide you with the best choices for restaurant and food service equipment. Browse our catalog and don’t be afraid to ask questions! Buy from a top firm with expertise in what it takes to build the best food service business.