A combi oven is one of the most versatile pieces of kitchen equipment a hospitality business can have. Similarly to a Swiss Army knife, a combi oven is designed to be the ultimate solution for consistent and efficient volume food production. A combi oven can replace a kettle, a steamer, a convection oven, a smoker, a fryer and a dehydrator, thus saving you a lot of money and space that you would otherwise use for all these other appliances.
Even though combi ovens have become staples in most commercial kitchens, most people still don’t utilise them to their full potential. They enable you to utilise humidity at any given temperature, something that most other ovens do not. With the increased air circulation and added humidity, the food is heated more efficiently. This provides you with the ability to roast, bake and poach in a high humidity environment, which is ideal for many dishes. Quality combi ovens provide about 50% faster cook times and greater yields.
Traditional convection ovens on the other hand, cook the food in a dry cavity and the cooks have no power over the humidity. The fans that circulate the warm air are also creating forced evaporation when the dry air withdraws moisture from the food. This results in decreased yields and compromised flavour, moisture and nutritional value.
But why is the humidity important? Well, simply put, when the food is exposed to heat, the molecules inside collide and cause friction. This friction causes the food to heat internally, and unfortunately, the moisture that’s inside it rises towards the surface. Imagine a steak on a barbecue – as it progressively cooks, the moisture moves to the surface. When you turn the steak the moisture drops at the bottom, directly on the heat source, and is then burned, which then results in a dry and tough steak.
One of the reasons why steaks taste great in restaurants and steak houses is because the meat is only turned once during the cooking and it is left to rest before being served. This is very important as it allows the moisture to work its way back into it.
That being said, combi ovens provide a superior cooking environment and dramatically reduce food shrinkage, while improving the quality and nutritional values of the food you cook. And last but not least, they let you prepare weekend food throughout the week, at smaller costs. Then on the weekends, you can simply use the regeneration facility and re-heat the food, which can really save you some money.