The following information is provided
courtesy of The Catering Equipment Suppliers Association.
need for ice by a catering outlet is for adding to cold drinks
such as cocktails or soft drinks, but other uses are for display
cases of items such as fish of the day and chefs often use it
for rapid chilling or keeping a food item cool while it is being
two basic types of ice-maker, an ice-cuber and an ice-flaker. If
a lot of flaked ice is needed it will be necessary to have both
a cuber and a flaker, but if just small amounts of flake are
needed, say for certain cocktails or “slush”-type soft drinks,
then cubes can be crushed in a commercial specification food
processor or blender.
type of ice-maker works by automatically depositing water in
moulds and then ejecting the ice cubes when frozen into a
storage hopper. This gives 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 ambience of a drink, such as in a hotel
cocktail bar or fine dining restaurant, there is a desire for
very clear ice, often in a “designer” shape rather than just
standard cubes. This ice is produced in an ice-maker which
sprays water upward into little cup-like moulds to be rapidly
frozen. This upward spraying of water 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, so making them last
longer in a drink.
are rated by their output in kilograms per 24 hours. Choosing
the right output capacity of ice-maker 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 aggregated daily need.
With so much
water needed in ice production the use of stainless steel in
construction ensures very good corrosion resistance. There are
two grades of stainless steel used, 304 and 430. The best is
ice-maker is self-flushing this means that residual water from
the ice-maker 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.
certainly a water filter will need fitting to prevent the
internal pipework of the ice-maker becoming furred up through
limescale deposit 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.
legally considered food and is subject to strict hygiene
legislation just as food is. Cleanliness of the machine is very
important and manufacturers‘ cleaning routines should always be
followed. 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 hands and only proper ice scoops should be used to fill ice
buckets from the storage bin.
glasses to fill ice buckets is extremely dangerous through the
chips getting into the ice. Ice tongs should be present in every
An ice maker
is a piece of equipment that is easy to be seen as
self-contained, relatively maintenance free and one less bit of
equipment that needs regular attention. That is not true.
produce a chilled environment for food and drink, but an ice
maker is just as much a food production machine as an oven and
needs the same care and looking after. Legally, ice is classed
as food, since it is eaten.
machines are capable of delivering a completely safe food
product. Where the problems can arise is if the maintenance,
daily cleaning routine and hygiene if ice dispense is not what
manufacturers recommend. Ice in bars has occasionally been
targeted in the media as an area of poor hygiene. This is not a
manufacturing fault, but a staff training and maintenance issue.
most likely cause of the contamination in ice is staff or
customers using hands to pick up ice, instead of a proper ice
scoop. While traditionally, ice buckets have been placed on the
bar, this allows customers to access food that will be eaten by
other customers. Ice buckets should always be placed on the
back-bar area away from customers.
only four key guidelines for ice handling:
Use a proper
ice scoop when filling ice buckets from the ice maker storage
bin and a scoop or ice tongs when putting ice into glasses.
Never use hands to pick up ice, even if you’ve just washed and
never use a glass to scoop up ice, it’s very dangerous. Glass
looks like ice and a single sliver of glass can cause serious
injury in the mouth and throat.
anything except ice in the ice storage bin, anything else could
the storage bin lid of the ice machine closed when not in use.
customers help themselves to ice.
clean and sanitise all equipment that comes into contact with
the ice such as ice buckets, scoops, tongs using a sanitisers
approved by the manufacturer of the ice maker.
cleaning of the ice-maker and the storage bin should be done
once a week following the manufacturer’s instructions. Before
cleaning the storage bin, turn the machine off and empty it,
discarding any ice and mopping out any water using new cleaning
cloths before a thorough clean out and sanitising. If the
clean-down instructions have been lost, contact the supplier or
manufacturer and ask for a copy.
While an ice
maker seems an item of catering equipment that needs little
external maintenance, it should always be included in the
regular servicing of refrigeration equipment to ensure smooth
Use only ice
tongs or ice scoops
Fit a water treatment system
Use clean cleaning cloths
Sanitise in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions
customers help themselves to ice
Allow staff to use fingers on ice
Leave the storage bin lid open
Put anything else in the storage bin
Neglect to clean the back of the ice-maker