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In nearly every food service establishment, whether a deli, a cafe, a convenience store, or a full-service restaurant, microwaves are used to prepare certain menu items. In a cafe, for example, a customer’s coffee might need to be heated briefly, or a customer may request that their pastry be warmed up if it has been sitting out for some time. Customer requests should be taken into account when managing a food service establishment. A cafe without a simple microwave with which to quickly heat up items on request may be seen as unprepared and badly managed.
Heating and reheating frozen or cold foods is the primary task of microwaves in commercial food service settings, but this covers a wide variety of needs. Cheese and butter can be melted in a microwave. Frozen fruits can be defrosted. Prepackaged foods — in a fast food environment, for example — can be heated and served. Do keep in mind that it is very easy to overcook food in a microwave, and this is especially true with powerful commercial microwaves such as those you’ll find on the Kinnek marketplace. Make absolutely sure that employees are trained to use a commercial microwave with your products so that you do not encounter any overcooking issues.
Interestingly, in full-service settings, microwaves are used for a number of tasks besides simple heating and reheating. It is not uncommon for baked potatoes to be cooked entirely in the microwave, and neither is it uncommon for restaurants to steam seafood and vegetables in the microwave (assuming, of course, that there is no separate steaming equipment on hand), or even to use them to cook soufflés.
The universal need for commercial microwaves, and their great versatility, thus demands that proper consideration be taken when purchasing one from a supplier. We recommend that you fully assess your budgetary constraints and the extent of your business needs before engaging with suppliers.
The wattage of a microwave is directly proportional to the speed with which it will cook. Higher wattage microwaves are generally more expensive, however, so you’ll have to balance your budgetary constraints with your need for high volume, high efficiency microwaving. For most establishments, high wattage microwaves are a luxury moreso than a need, as the microwave is not in use constantly throughout the day (and thus efficiency/time improvements do not as significantly effect kitchen workflow). Exceptions to this general rule include delis, sandwich shops, and cafes, for which a greater percentage of the menu items will need to be heated in the microwave.
Types of Commercial Microwaves
Light duty microwaves are similar to personal use microwaves in homes (wattage), but they boast commercial grade durability and construction. They are usually small, and are common in establishments with only a light and infrequent need for microwave use.
The next step up from light duty microwaves, medium duty microwaves feature higher wattage and, additionally, they are frequently built larger to accommodate more food.
The top-of-the-line commercial microwave type, heavy duty microwaves are seen in large kitchens and cafeterias. They are, again, another step up in terms of both wattage and capacity. They are almost universally button-based rather than dial-based.
Buttons vs. Dials
When selecting a commercial microwave, you will find that you have a choice between dial and button based equipment. Dials are cheaper, but much simpler. You cannot save or preprogram any settings. If you have a lot of new or undertrained employees, a you may want to select a button-based microwave for ease-of-use, and to ensure a consistent level of quality.