Fish fridges are responsible for keeping one of your most valuable ingredients fresh so don’t be caught out buying something that’s not up to the job. Ferhat Akkaya, director of Hopkins, offers his top tips to buying the right one for your business and keeping it in tip-top condition
1. Commercial v domestic – This is a simple one, choose a commercial fridge every time. Unlike domestic fridges, commercial ones are built to withstand the rigours of a hot kitchen and for the doors to be opened hundreds of times a day. Domestic fridges simply aren’t, which means the compressor and thermostat will be working overtime, putting pressure on the parts and resulting in increased running costs and a shorter lifespan.
2. Size – Identify how many fish you sell in a week and make a decision accordingly. If you choose one that’s too small you’ll have wastage, but purchase one that’s too big and you’re cooling space you don’t need. And remember, there’s a difference between capacity and net capacity – the former refers to the actual size of the fridge, whereas the latter is the useable space inside..
3. Fan – Don’t buy a fish fridge with a fan as all this will do is dry out the fish.
4. Drain plates – Choose a model that has drain plates under each drawer as this will catch any liquor so that it’s not in direct contact with the fish. The trays should be removed each day and cleaned, paying particular attention to the corners.
5. Insulation – Go for a high-grade stainless steel model that is adequately insulated. A poorly insulated fridge will be cheaper to buy but the compressor will have to work that much harder to maintain temperature, thereby costing more to run.
6. Doors – If you’re a very busy shop and you have space, consider a double door fish fridge as this will reduce temperature fluctuations when opening and closing doors.
7. Different designs – Fish fridges come in lots of different configurations these days to suit different shop layouts. It could be an under-counter option gives you more workspace or a low-level version gives you space on top for additional equipment.
8. Defrost – A build-up of ice will make the fridge work harder and less efficiently so manually defrost your fridge once a week. Simply switch it off, leave for half an hour then put a bowl of warm water inside and close the door. Any ice will fall off by itself. Never use a knife to remove ice as this could damage the unit..
9. Servicing – Have your fish fridge serviced every year. This will ensure everything from the filters to the door seals are working effectively, thereby prolonging the lifespan of your fridge. We speak to customers today who still have their fish fridge 20-30 years on!
10. Cleaning – Wash your fish fridge out once a week and, if you can reach, wipe over the components at the back, such as the compressor, with a dry cloth to make sure they are dust-free.
11. Positioning – the ideal place for a fish fridge is within easy reach of the range. If you can reduce 20 steps to 10 steps, then your chef will save considerable time going back and forth. And remember to leave a 1” gap to the width to allow for the door to open.
12. Buy a proper fish fridge – it will last you longer and it will keep the fish in better quality.
Climate Class clarified
One of the key elements when choosing any refrigerator is its Climate Class – yet many operators don’t understand it, says The Catering Equipment Suppliers Association (CESA).
Every professional fridge will be manufactured to a specific Climate Class. For example, Climate Class 3 fridges are designed to operate in ambient temperatures up to 25°C, whereas a Climate Class 5 model will cope with temperatures up to 40°C. A Climate Class 3 fridge won’t cope in Climate Class 5 conditions.
“Specifiers of new refrigeration equipment need to get to grips with this issue,” says John Whitehouse, chair of CESA. “Get an inappropriate Climate Class fridge and you’re going to have temperature control issues, leading to unnecessary food wastage.”
The problem has been highlighted by the Energy Labelling Directive, which applies to professional refrigeration cabinets and counters (it will also apply to commercial ‘reach-in’ cabinets in the future). The tests set a model’s energy efficiency between A+++ and G – but the tests are carried out under specific Climate Class conditions. Read the label to see what Climate Class it has been tested to.
For more information on CESA visit www.cesa.org.uk