What are Combi Ovens?

Tuesday 24th December 2013

A Combi Oven is an oven which can employ several different types of cooking with the process of cooking your food. In one piece of kitchen equipment, it can combine several functions of the cooking process. They usually combine dry heat (like a fan oven) with the capabilities of a steam oven, so that when needed, steam can be injected into the oven so that the food does not dry out. This is why the alternative name for the Combi Oven comes about; the Combi Steamer.

Benefits of Combi Ovens

There are many benefits to using a Combi Oven as opposed to any other conventional oven. Arguably, it is one of the most versatile pieces of equipment that any kitchen used by top chefs can have. This is because it is incredibly efficient, and cooks the food in ways that a conventional oven could not do.

 We can start with meat as an example. In dry heat (used on its own in a conventional radiant oven), the meat can lose up to a third of its mass, just because water content decreases in the dry heat. However, in a Combi Oven which uses steam, much less water content is lost, which means that there is a greater mass of meat after the cooking has finished, and the meat is tenderer.

It is a similar story for fish and vegetables; both a reasonably delicate foods, and by exposing them to dry heat, or boiling water, you can easily risk ruining the flavour, texture, or even the natural colours and nutrients. To avoid this, the Combi-Oven can use the steam function to make sure the food is cooked properly, whilst still maintaining all that is good about the food.

Issues with Combi-Ovens

combi-ovensThere are however issues of possible extra work when maintaining this workhorse of the kitchen. For example, most restuarant catering equipment providers strongly recommend that they are cleaned regularly, as often as once a day, to prevent build –up of fat and grease. There are also recommendations about how often to check the seals of the door. If the sealing around the door were to become damaged at any point, you risk losing steam from the oven, into the surrounding air. This massively reduces the efficiency of the Combi Oven, which would increase costs.

Overall, it is accepted that the huge benefits of this system in the kitchen massively outweigh the any small inconveniences with maintaining it.

You can buy Combi Ovens at several retailers online. One of these is Advantage Catering Equipment, which sells a broad range of Ovens at about £1500 upwards.

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