A PUB'S main need for ice is for adding to drinks, but the kitchen in a food-led venue also uses ice. This can be for chefs to rapidly chill sauces and stocks or for restaurant display cases such as 'fish of the day'.
While an ice-maker is associated with drinks, in the eyes of the law it is classed as a food machine, as what it produces passes the customer's lips.The simplest type of ice-maker works by automatically depositing water in moulds and ejecting the ice cubes into a storage hopper.
This produces ice cubes with the familiar cloudy appearance of ice made in a domestic freezer.Where the appearance of the ice is part of the overall experience of having a drink - such as in a style bar or food-led pub with a reputation for serving stylish spirits and cocktails - it needs very clear ice, often in a 'designer' shape rather than just standard foggy cubes.
This ice is produced in an ice-maker which sprays water upward into little cup-like moulds to be rapidly frozen. This upward spray makes very pure ice because many of the impurities present in tap water drop out before they can be frozen in the cube. The cubes are crystal clear, attractive in shape and very hard, making them last longer in a drink.
Choosing the right ice-maker
Ice-makers are rated by their output in kilograms per 24 hours. Choosing the right output capacity should be done in conjunction with a manufacturer, who will calculate the production and storage capacity needed to allow for periods of peak demand, not just the total needed each day.
With so much water needed in ice production, using stainless steel ensures very good corrosion resistance. Stainless steel is labelled according to the grades 304 and 430, 304 being superior.If the ice-maker is self-flushing, residual water from the unit will be flushed out automatically as part of each ice-making cycle. Automatic shutdown will save on energy by stopping ice production when the storage bin is full.
Every ice-maker need to have a water filter fitted to prevent the internal pipework becoming furred up with limescale deposits from dissolved salts in mains tap water. This will also assist in delivering clearer ice cubes. In busy operations it may be necessary to have satellite ice storage bins served from one large central ice-making unit. Where there is a heavy and constant demand for ice, it makes sense to split production between two ice-makers for cover during servicing or in the unlikely event of a breakdown.
Health and safety
Cleanliness is very important and pubs should always follow manufacturers' cleaning routines. Good hygiene practice by staff handling ice is essential and they should have professional training - which manufacturers can often arrange. Staff should never touch ice with their hands and only proper ice scoops should be used to fill ice buckets from the storage bin. Using drinking glasses to fill ice buckets is extremely dangerous because of the risk of glass chips getting into the ice. And every ice bucket should have its own ice tongs.
CESA, the Equipment Suppliers Association, has information on buying and using every aspect of kitchen equipment. Learn more and find a supplier by visiting www.cesa.org.uk