Commercial ice machines are ubiquitous in restaurants because ice has so many practical applications in dining facilities.

The automatic thought around ice makers in restaurants is the need for ice on the bar side of the business.  But food-grade quality ice is also imperative in the kitchen.  Today, we’re going to highlight ice baths for cooking and storage.

Foods are potentially dangerous if in the temperature zone of 40F – 140F degrees.  Prolonged exposure in this temperature range (2 hours or longer) can cause food-born illnesses, bacteria and contamination.  You cannot put hot food directly into a refrigerator and expect it to cool.  Refrigerators are not cold enough for food to cool quickly, and the heat from the cooked food will have a detrimental impact on other items in the refrigerator.

And that’s where commercial ice machines and clean ice come into the picture!

To avoid overcooking, throw your crustacean into an ice bath after boiling

To quickly and evenly cool foods, place container of food into an ice bath (a tub, sink or large container full of ice from the commercial ice machine), which will immediately stop the cooking process and begin the cooling process.  As the ice melts under the warm food, drain the water and add more ice.  Once the food has lowered to under 40F degrees, it is safe to put into the refrigerator.

An ice bath is the safest way to cool down sauces, stocks, soup or chili.  Ice baths are also effective when preparing vegetables, shrimp and potato salad.

For perfectly crisp green beans, simply boil for 2 minutes and then immediately submerge in an ice bath. This isn’t just a restaurant chef’s trick, it’s easy to do at home too.  How do you think chefs make shrimp for shrimp cocktail?  They grab a container of ice from their commercial ice machine, peel and devein shrimp, boil for 1 minute and then add to the ice bath.  With short cooling time and adding a tangy sauce, fresh shrimp cocktail is created.

So, when you think of commercial ice machines in restaurants, look beyond just the drinks. There are so many uses for ice in restaurants and at home!