Food Rethermalizer vs Food Warmer: What’s the Difference?

rethermalizer vs warmer

Having the right tools for the job makes all the difference. In a commercial kitchen, food rethermalizers and food warmers are two important tools. You might think these appliances do the same thing. However, their function is very different. Each has unique benefits.

What is a Rethermalizer?

In general, rethermalizers are appliances designed specifically to reheat prepared foods from a chilled or frozen state of less than 40°F to a temperature of more than 165°F safely and quickly. They don’t require food to be slacked or thawed before retherming. Rethermalizers must be capable of boosting food temperature through the “Danger Zone” (between 40°F and 140°F) in under two hours (not to be confused with Kenny Loggin’s classic Danger Zone). This is critical because bacteria reproduction goes into overdrive within that temperature range, doubling every 20 minutes. Once food passes 140°F those little bacterial bastards are killed off.

Most rethermalizers use water as a heat transfer medium.

rethermalizer vs warmer

Uses for a Rethermalizer

Just as the name implies, rethermalizers reheat food. They are especially useful in operations that prepare and freeze large batches of food ahead of time. Ideal menu items for retherming include soups, casseroles, sauces, pasta, vegetables, bread, desserts, and meats.

We all know that finding good help right now is a royal pain in the butt. With no end in sight to the tight labor market, it’s important to have tools that are easy to use and don’t need a lot of babysitting. Rethermalizers are a great option. They’re push-button simple, and most feature an automatic hold function. Many have programmed cooking functions, so staff can just load them up and push start.

Types of Rethermalizers

There are four basic types of rethermalizers: water bath, induction, combi oven, and CVap® Retherm Ovens. The first two are typically countertop appliances (though some large floor models are found in QSR chains). The latter two are usually floor models.

Bain Marie or water-filled rethermalizers use a water well to reheat food quickly and gently. Although this type can be a more economic option, there are a couple of disadvantages. Water-filled rethermalizers need about 15 minutes to preheat before adding the product. And it’s necessary to check the water level about every two hours. Allowing the water level to drop too low can damage the unit and burn the food.

Some water bath rethermalizers are sous vide immersion circulators. Food is prepped and sealed in vacuum bags. It can be cooked right away, or chilled or frozen for later use. The bagged products are placed directly in the heated water bath. Once it reaches serving temp food can remain in the water bath until serving. The water bath prevents it from overcooking or cooling down.

Induction rethermalizers remain cool until an induction-ready inset is placed inside. They are very efficient since no energy is expended in preheating. Virtually all heat is inducted directly into the food, quickly retherming it. Because induction units don’t utilize water baths, they won’t develop the funky scaling that can develop in water bath appliances.

rethermalizer vs warmer
foodservice products

Combi ovens are popular for rethermalizing. Combis get their name from their combination of hot steam and hot convected air to quickly retherm food. They are hella fast, and hella powerful. But they’re also hella expensive and can be pretty damned complicated to use. Speaking of expensive, you’ll want to factor in the required chemicals and maintenance that combis must have.

Like CVap Retherm Ovens, combis don’t just thermalize. Most are capable of a wide range of other cooking processes.

CVap Retherm Ovens use heated water vapor as their primary heat source. This means you can retherm in a CVap oven with or without vacuum bags. It’s like sous vide, without the mess. CVap ovens can also roast, steam, bake, sous vide, low-temp steam, proof, and more. You can even use them as food warmers. They automatically shift from cooking to holding mode at the conclusion of their cooking cycle.

Rethermalizers vs. Food Warmers

Rethermalizers can be used as food warmers. But food warmers cannot be used as rethermalizers. They perform very different functions. Rethermalizers are designed to quickly heat food to safe temperatures. Although food warmer might sound like it does the same thing, that’s not the case. Food warmers are designed to keep hot cooked food at a safe temperature. They aren’t designed to heat up cold food. If anybody tells you different, they are either pulling your leg or are ignorant to the basic functions of kitchen equipment.

What is a Food Warmer?

Food warmers maintain food temperatures above the minimum safe temperature of 140°F. They are called several different things: warmers, holding cabinets, hot boxes, warming drawers, etc. Food warmers are great for operations that have predictable rush periods, like school cafeterias and fast-food restaurants. They allow cooking to be done ahead of the rush. Food is held hot until serving. This allows more efficient use of the staff on hand. Just like rethermalizers, many warmers rely on heated water in some form to provide continuous heat.

Uses of a Food Warmer

As the name implies, food warmers keep food warm. They are useful in rush traffic situations and in operations that need to serve throughout the day. Food warmers help provide quick service by minimizing prep time.

food warmer

Types of Food Warmers

Food warmers come in all shapes and sizes. Some are simple, such as chafing dishes, heat lamps, warming shelves, and heated strips. The simpler warmers are only good for short-term holding, like on a serving line.

Countertop warmers are next up in the holding hierarchy. They include kettles, bins, and drawers. Kettles are great for soups and sauces. Bins usually hold full or fractional pans, so you can hold different products together (if they share similar settings). Warming drawers are great because they have a closed environment, enabling more precise control of food temperature. Drawers take up relatively little space, making them ideal for food trucks, concessions, and other operations where space is critical.

Finally, the largest food warmers are holding cabinets. These are available in under-counter, half, or full-sized configurations. They let you hold lots of food in a small footprint.

Just as there are different types of food warmers, there are also different technologies behind them.

Warmer Technologies

Dry warmers are just that. These drawers or cabinets, also known as “hot boxes,” use simple electrical heating elements to heat the unit interior. Because they don’t add moisture to the unit’s atmosphere, they can only hold for a short time before food quality starts to drop. Inevitably, food will start to lose its moisture. Not only does this dry the food out, but it also causes food temperature to drop (because evaporation is a cooling process).

Passive humidity warmers add a water bath to the unit’s interior. They are an improvement over dry warmers because the addition of a water bath means moisture isn’t being provided solely by the food itself. They are better than dry units but are less accurate than more sophisticated warmers.

Humidified warmers offer better temperature accuracy. Their internal water bath is temperature-controlled, which extends holding time.

The most accurate warmers are Winston’s CVap (controlled vapor) holding cabinets and warming drawers. CVap uses a dual-heat system of dry air heat and moist vapor heat. This means that CVap warmers precisely control food temperature and maintain the desired surface texture. CVap is equally effective at holding crisp or moist foods for extended times.

Rethermalizer vs. Warmer: Differences

As described previously, the biggest difference between rethermalizers and warmers is their function. Rethermalizers reheat or cook food. Food warmers do not. As mentioned before, you can hold food in a rethermalizer, but you cannot cook in a food warmer. Rethermalizers are designed for speed and require much more electrical power than warmers.

Rethermalizer vs Warmers: Similarities

Rethermalizers and warmers share some similarities. Many use some form of water or water vapor as the thermal medium to cook or hold food. Since water is efficient at heat transfer more energy is directed into the food than is wasted in the atmosphere.

Rethermalizer and warmers may have similar appearances. Although there may be some overlap in function, they serve different primary purposes.

Is My Kitchen Equipment Required to Be Under a Hood?

steamy kitchen
steamy kitchen

Does your commercial kitchen equipment require a vent hood? It depends on several factors. These include the type of equipment, your menu, and your operation’s location. The ultimate judges of hood requirements are your local health and fire officials. They will advise whether hoods are required and, if so, what type. Always check with local officials before proceeding. Most states and municipalities adhere to the International Mechanical Code. But you may find that your locale has additional guidelines. For example, New York City’s codes are more stringent than most other municipalities.

Commercial kitchen vent hoods are expensive. Depending on the type, they can cost as much as $1000 a foot to install. Add to that the cost of operating and maintenance, and you’ve got a substantial chunk of change. So, in these days of constant inflation, you may be looking to save where you can. Perhaps you’re wondering if your equipment must be under a hood.

Different Hoods for Different Situations

frying in oil

Type 1 Hoods

Appliances that produce greasy by-products and smoke require Type 1 hoods. These hoods primarily deal with the removal of grease particles from the air. For this reason, many refer to them as grease hoods. Type 1 hoods are typically above deep fryers, cooktops, open-flame stoves, conveyor-pizza ovens, char-broilers, and such. Because of the grease by-products that Type 1 hoods capture, they require frequent cleanings to help prevent damage and fire risks due to grease buildup.

Type 2 Hoods

Type 2 Hoods are for other kitchen appliances that don’t have to pertain directly to cooking. These appliances can include dishwashers, pasta cookers, and other equipment that doesn’t produce smoke or grease. Since Type 2 hoods mainly deal with removing heat and steam from the air, the industry refers to them as condensate hoods or heat hoods. They help create a more comfortable work environment.

We strongly advise you to contact a consultant or other knowledgeable foodservice professional to determine whether a vent system is needed (and if so, which type). Adding a ventilation system you hadn’t budgeted for is a financial blow for an operation that already operates on slim margins.

foodservice products

Vent Hoods and Winston Products

Collectramatic® fryers must always be under hoods. Likewise, a Winston Smoker Box with your CVap® oven will require it to be placed under a vent hood or outdoors. That little box generates a lot of smoke.

Although the above Winston products require vent hoods, you can usually use CVap products without hoods. We hired the independent testing firm Intertek to verify CVap’s compliance with the EPA’s Method 202 – Condensable Particulate Matter standards. The ovens were checked for particulate compliance using full loads of pizzas (good and greasy food). The results speak for themselves. CVap ovens breezed through to a passing grade. Place CVap ovens, holding cabinets, and warming drawers where sufficient electrical power is available.

At the risk of sounding repetitive, please don’t just take our word for it. As mentioned, local codes can vary a lot. It’ll save you money and peace of mind to consult with your local authorities (and perhaps a consultant) to ensure you comply with your area’s codes.

Rethermalizing Prepared Foods in Bulk

Rethermalizing Prepared Foods

Retherming bulk packages of prepared foods can be challenging unless you have the right equipment. To clarify, let’s discuss rethermalizing, define prepared foods, and outline what operations are likely to use premade food. Finally, we’ll talk about what equipment is best suited to retherm them.

What is Rethermalizing?

Rethermalization is the process by which prepackaged food that is either frozen or chilled is brought to hot temperatures safely and effectively. Food must transition through the temperature danger zone (41°F to 135°F) in under two hours to meet the FDA Food Code. And although we’re primarily talking about commercially prepared foods, you can also use the retherming processes on leftovers. When reheating leftovers, food must reach 165°F in under two hours (though 90 minutes is preferred). (If you want to get down to the nitty-gritty, find specific requirements in Chapter 3 Section 403.11 – Reheating for Hot Holding – Subsection A – E (page 91) and Chart 4-B.)

Rethermalizing Prepared Foods

What are Prepared Foods?

Prepared foods encompass a wide range of food products. In the broadest sense, prepared food is food that is ready for consumption. It has been produced elsewhere and sold to the consumer (be that an individual or an organization). We’re speaking primarily of commercially prepared foods. These are foods that are mass-produced long before consumption. They come in a can, a chub, vacuum-seal, frozen, or other forms.

Rethermalizing Prepared Foods
Rethermalizing Prepared Foods
Rethermalizing Prepared Foods

Popular with operators, prepared foods decrease labor by outsourcing the initial food product. Portion control is made simple. And when rethermed properly, prepared foods are indistinguishable from made-to-order food.

Who Typically Serves Prepared Foods?

Although commercial foodservice primarily serves prepared foods, they are also popular in these foodservice segments:

B&I (Business and Industry)

Businesses that are not primarily foodservice operators but purchase foodservice items (such as corporate cafeterias).
It also includes government facilities.

Education

This includes preschools, K-12, colleges, and universities.

Healthcare

Another broad category. Includes hospitals, nursing homes, rehab facilities, senior living facilities, and others.

Concessions

Stadiums, museums, conference centers, amusement venues, country clubs, and others.

Catering

Also implemented at event facilities and mobile caterers.

These seem like widely disparate operations, but they have one thing in common.
They all need the ability to retherm large quantities of food quickly and safely.

Retherming Equipment

Achieve retherming by utilizing several different equipment pieces. The most common are rethermalizing ovens (a.k.a., thermalizersthermalizer ovensrethermalizersretherm ovens, and others).

Some folks may think first of combi ovens. Combis certainly can do the job and do it faster than most other oven types. But they also involve a substantial investment in upfront costs and operating costs. They require expensive vent hoods in most locations. A more economical option is the rethermalizing oven.

history why we build retherm ovens

In many respects, retherm ovens are like convection ovens or cook and hold ovens. However, retherm ovens have greater wattage and air movement. CVap Retherm Ovens also feature vapor heat. Consequently, this improves energy transfer efficiency. Retherm efficiency is the transfer of energy from a heated cabinet to a thermal mass (food) at a fast and controlled rate. In other words, retherm energy efficiency measures how much power an oven consumes and delivers to the food product during rethermalization. Since heated vapor is tremendously efficient at energy transfer, CVap retherm ovens excel at heating a thermal mass quickly.

Critically, the larger the thermal mass, the more energy (kW) is needed to transfer to the mass. Similarly, the more energy (kW), the faster the thermal mass can absorb the energy and reach desired temperatures. Consequently, this makes retherm ovens ideal for reheating chilled or frozen foods. They deliver lots of energy quickly.

Winston CVap Retherm Oven

Of course, Winston’s CVap® Retherm Oven is the hands-down best. CVap Retherm Ovens feature two circulation fans, providing robust air circulation throughout the oven. The fans speed up the retherming process and minimize hot or cold zones within the oven.

Winston-Foodservice-No-Vent-Hood

CVap ovens have a maximum air temperature of 350°F and can operate without a vent hood in most locations. Winston has conducted independent testing to verify. Hood availability is an important consideration when choosing an oven.

Another thing to consider when choosing a retherm oven is versatility. CVap Retherm ovens aren’t one-trick ponies. Yes, they’re great at retherming. But they can also bake, roast, sous vide, low-temp steam, and more. Whether serving prepared foods or cooking from scratch, CVap Retherm Ovens are the perfect oven for any large-volume feeder operation.

Retherming Brisket in CVap®

retherming brisket

Brisket. Is there a better product to cook to celebrate May’s National BBQ Month? Brisket is incredibly popular, with a 23% increase in menus over the last decade. Whether you’re preparing these babies in-house, or are opting for commercially produced products, CVap ovens are great for retherming brisket without sacrificing quality.

retherming brisket
retherming brisket

To test the full range of products, we rethermed two brisket types. The first was a fully cooked, house-smoked, whole unsliced brisket. The other was commercially produced Hormel sliced brisket. Notably, both briskets were whole, smoked, and fully cooked. But the commercial product was smaller, roughly seven pounds. Additionally, it came presliced. On the other hand, the homemade product is unsliced and was about 14 pounds. We set them up in the same CHV7-05UV oven, with the same program: Vapor 170°F/Air 200°F. We wrapped both briskets in foil and placed them into the preheated oven.

Retherming Brisket - The Same, But Different

Although these were both whole briskets, they fell under different Food Code 3-403.11(C) requirements. The code requires that rethermed proteins hit their required safe temperature in two hours or less

Because the Hormel brisket was a commercially produced product, the code requires it to reach the minimally safe temperature of 135°F. Our CVap oven easily hit the mark. The Hormel brisket reached safe temp in a little under two hours. Clearly, the lower retherming temperature requirement, coupled with CVap’s high humidity retherming program, and the added ingredients (like phosphate) helped keep this pre-sliced brisket perfectly moist.

However, the food code requirements for previously cooked homemade brisket are more stringent. Code dictates that it must reach a minimum safe temperature of 165°F for 15 seconds. Our initial test reveal that this much larger brisket missed the mark on cook time. Unsurprisingly, this brisket, being twice as large as the Hormel product, took nearly twice as long to hit 165°F in the thickest part of the roast, between the point and flat. But no test is a failure, even if the results are not what we wanted. We headed back to the drawing board.

The solution was simple. We separated the whole brisket into the point and flat and wrapped them separately. Consequently, the two smaller cuts reached the required temperature within the two-hour limit. Although we didn’t test it, you could probably optimize the program by either decreasing the vapor and air temperatures or minimizing the temperature differential between the two (for example, Vapor 180°F/Air 190°F, or Vapor 190°F/Air 200°F).

Why Retherm?

What’s the practicality of retherming briskets instead of serving scratch cooked? Time. Briskets are a classic example of a protein you must cook low and slow to achieve the best results. Unless you can perfectly predict how much your operation needs on a given day (and plan accordingly), it is impractical to cook on-demand. But cooking ahead of time and properly refrigerating reduces the time it takes to retherm and serve. Think of it as a form of staging. Ultimately, anything that helps you serve faster and turn tables is beneficial.

A Full Irish Breakfast for St. Patrick’s Day

irish breakfast

The full Irish breakfast harkens back to Ireland’s agrarian past. Farmworkers needed a good, hearty meal to have the energy to power through the rugged daily chores on the farm.

Like much of the world, farmers make up an increasingly small segment of the Irish population. But the popularity of the Irish breakfast hasn’t waned. It remains a favorite for genuine Irish folks and people who simply crave its hearty, basic goodness.

In the spirit of St. Patty’s we wanted to prepare a complete Irish breakfast in our test kitchen. The goal was to prepare as much as we could using our CVap® ovens and keep skillet-cooked foods hot, holding in the CVap® drawers.

irish breakfast
irish breakfast

What Exactly is an Irish Breakfast?

The exact ingredients of an Irish breakfast can vary. There are even regional variations in Ireland itself. But most involve some combination of the following:

  • Rashers (or bacon)
  • Irish sausages
  • Black and white pudding
  • Baked beans
  • Eggs (sunny side)
  • Tomatoes
  • Potato farl (or some other form of cooked potatoes)
  • Brown bread
  • Irish butter
  • Tea or coffee
irish breakfast
irish breakfast
irish breakfast

Settings for Breakfast Ingredients

  • Eggs – prepared sunny-side-up and held in a CVap Drawer at 140°F /+10
  • Beans – rethermed in a CVap oven at 200°F Vapor/200°F Air until thoroughly heated. The warm beans were held in a CVap drawer at 140°F /+10.
  • Rashers (Bacon) – cooked in a CVap oven at 200°F Vapor/350°F Air until it reached preferred doneness (for an Irish breakfast, this means not cooking until crisp). Once cooked, the rashers were held in a CVap drawer at 140°F /+10
  • Bangers (sausage links) – cooked in a CVap oven at 200°F Vapor/350°F Air until thoroughly heated. The cooked bangers were held in a CVap drawer at 140°F /+10.
  • Potatoes (we used frozen rounds) – in a CVap oven at 200°F Vapor/350°F Air until hot and crispy. We then held in a CVap drawer at 90°F /+80
  • White Pudding (pork sausage with cornmeal (like scrapple)) – sliced and cooked in a skillet, then held in a CVap drawer at 90°F /+80.
  • Black Pudding (pork sausage with cornmeal and blood (like scrapple)) – sliced and cooked in a skillet, then held in a CVap drawer at 90°F /+80.
  • Tomatoes – cleaned and sliced in half.

The CVap Advantage

Our big advantage was the availability of our CVap equipment. CVap enabled us to keep everything hot and fresh so that the full breakfast could be presented all together, with every element piping hot and incredibly fresh.

The results were delicious and filling. Just the thing for a cool late-winter day.

We’ll close out this chapter with an Irish prayer. “Bless us with good food, the fit of gab and hearty laughter. May the love and joy we share, be with us ever after!”

Guinness Brown Bread in CVap®

Guinness Brown Bread
Guinness Brown Bread

In a recent Winston blog, we prepared a full Irish breakfast. One of the key ingredients of that breakfast was Guinness Brown Bread. We thought this wonderful, dark bread deserved an entry of its own. We based it on a lovely recipe found on Good Food Ireland’s website.

This recipe takes a few liberties with the traditional Irish soda bread. One might think of brown bread as soda bread’s denser cousin. The original soda bread had just four ingredients: flour, salt, baking soda, and buttermilk. That basic recipe stems from the 1830s when much of Ireland was facing a serious famine. For many poor families, there would have been meals that consisted of only this bread. It kept them alive.

Soda bread also had the advantage of not requiring an oven to bake. It could be cooked in iron pots, or even directly on a stone over the fire. Yeast would have been hard to come but, not to mention expensive. Rather than using yeast for leavening, soda bread uses the chemical reaction between the baking soda and the acid in the buttermilk to leaven the dough. This works well with the soft wheat grown in Ireland.

Brown Bread vs Soda Bread

Guinness Brown Bread shares the same roots as soda bread. The key difference is the flour used. Irish soda bread is slightly sweet, (think scones). It uses white flour, which gives it a milder flavor. It’s a perfect snack or accompaniment to a hot cup of tea or coffee. On the other hand, brown bread has a nutty flavor that comes from the combination of Irish wholemeal flour and oats. It should be sliced think, and enjoyed with a schmear of Irish butter.

As is the case with any standard recipe, the standard baking settings needed a bit of modification for the CVap® ovens. We also needed to tweak the ingredients just a bit, since some ingredients aren’t easy to come by here in the U.S.

Ingredients (for one loaf)

  • 600g Wholemeal Flour (we substituted Whole Wheat Flour)
  • 150g Plain Flour (we substituted All-Purpose Flour)
  • 75g Oatmeal
  • 2 and 1/2 Teaspoons Baking Soda
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
  • 2-1/2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
  • 40g Butter
  • 480ml Whole Milk
  • 200ml Black Treacle (we substituted Molasses)
  • ½ Pint Guinness® Draught Stout
Guinness Brown Bread
Guinness Brown Bread

The Process

Mix butter with the dry ingredients until the dough develops the consistency of breadcrumbs.

Add the milk, molasses, and the Guinness draught.

Mix until you reach a wet dough.

The Settings

Preheat CHV/RTV-05 oven

  • Vapor Cook– 200°F
  • Air Cook– 350°F
  • Cook Time – 1 Hour

Portion the dough into standard greased loaf pans. Garnish with a few oats.

Bake for approximately 45-50 minutes, or until done.

To speed the bake time, we portioned our dough into mini loaves. This shortened the bake time to about 25 minutes. We also prepared a batch of muffins, which only took about 20 minutes to cook thoroughly. To make this a perfect addition to the meal, we served the warm bread with Kerrygold Irish Butter.

The Extras

In case you’re curious, there is a difference between Irish butter and the butter we’re used to here in the U.S. It turns out, Irish cows live a pretty good life. They feed exclusively on the lush green grass of the Emerald Isle. As a result, the butter they produce is higher in nutrients like beta carotene and is a little higher in fat content. Although the fat is only slightly higher, it is a difference you can taste. In addition, that fat keeps the Irish butter-soft, so it’s much easier to spread without tearing the bread. We highly recommend that you splurge on Irish butter. It will make this dark bread that much more delicious.

Of course, the Guinness draught speaks for itself. It’s a wonderful, dark, creamy stout. We highly recommend it.

Guinness Brown Bread

Pepperoni Rolls, Simple and Delicious

pepperoni rolls
   

Pepperoni rolls, the simple yet impressive combination of bread and pepperoni (and sometimes cheese).  This uniquely West Virginian recipe was originally created by miners’ wives as a filling lunch that could be eaten in the coal mines. Pepperoni rolls were first commercially produced in 1927 in a Fairmont, WV bakery owned by Italian immigrant Guiseppe Argiro. 

While you can find some variation of this Mountain State treat in other parts of the country now, we thought it was time to produce some in Kentucky in our CVap® ovens.

pepperoni rolls

Ingredients

  • 2 bags of frozen rolls (approximately 73 in a bag)
  • 40-50oz of sliced pepperoni
  • 6lbs shredded colby jack cheese
  • Non-stick cooking spray
  • All-purpose flour
  • Melted butter
This party size recipe makes approximately 140 rolls. 

Preparing

Start with frozen bread rolls. Unless you have time to make fresh dough, this is the easiest way to get started. Plus the rolls are already perfectly portioned for individual rolls. Place the frozen rolls into a large hotel pan and cover rolls with non-stick cooking spray. This will ensure that they do not stick together while thawing. Place the pan in CVap Holding Cabinet at 100F Vapor/103F Air for about 30 minutes. Once the rolls are soft to touch, it is time to roll and fill them with pepperoni and cheese.

With a healthy amount of flour at your side for the purpose of rolling the dough, use a rolling pin to flatten the dough to about 1/4 inch thick and about 5 inches in diameter. Place a large pinch of cheese in the center of the dough. Add about five slices of pepperoni over the cheese. Fold in the sides and roll until the dough is like a burrito. Trap the filling in on all sides to prevent leaks.

pepperoni rolls
pepperoni rolls
folding
pepperoni rolls
Pepperoni Rolls

Baking Pepperoni Rolls

Spray a large hotel pan with non-stick cooking spray and place the rolled dough into the pan. There should be about an inch of space between each roll for expanding purposes. Brush each roll with melted butter to prevent sticking to each other and to add a nice golden crust.

Once the pan is full, place it back into the CVap Holding Cabinet at 100F Vapor/103F Air for about 30 minutes to finish proofing or until the dough has expanded about 1/4 inch all around. The rolls may be touching slightly. In the meantime, preheat a CVap Retherm oven or a CVap Cook and Hold oven to Zero Vapor/350F Air. When the proofing process is complete transfer the pans to the CVap oven. Bake them for about 20 minutes or until they have reached a golden brown on top.

pepperoni rolls

Pair them with some marinara or create the OG West Virginia school lunch with baked beans, chilled peaches, and chocolate milk. Do you have a CVap recipe that you want to share? Post your recipes and pictures on the CVap Operators group!

Carnitas in CVap®

events carnitas
events carnitas

I love food, and I mean all types of food! My absolute favorite style of cuisine is Hispanic – more specifically, Mexican, with its wealth of tradition and depth of flavors. What’s not to love? I have a group of friends I meet every Sunday at our local On the Border for lunch and a margarita or three (if I’m being honest, the food is decent, but the margaritas are the real draw!). I decided to mix it up one Sunday and order one of my favorite traditional Mexican dishes: carnitas.

They were less than spectacular, and I asked my friend Sergio why he thought they weren’t very good. He replied that too many people really only want fajitas on the hot plate, and this restaurant’s preparation just wasn’t traditional. To be fair, one look around the room proved that he was right. It looked like a sauna with the steam rising from every table. I was a victim of demand.

carnitas ingredients

Let's Make Carnitas!

I wasn’t about to settle for this disappointment, however. Carnitas is a staple of Mexican cuisine and I mean, c’mon, it’s PORK! I decided to take matters into my own hands. There are many ways to prepare carnitas, but traditionally it is shoulder meat (or leftover parts of a butchered hog) slow braised for several hours in pork lard, confit style. Once the pork has broken down enough, it is taken out and either pulled apart or cut into cubes. It then goes back into the lard with the heat turned up, and is fried to add texture. There are many twists and variations of this dish, and the part of the country you are from usually defines what ingredients and flavors your carnitas might have. For this recipe, I’m combining the old with the new and adding a splash of CVap®.

Ingredients

2 Lbs. pork shoulder, cut into 1″ cubes
½ teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cumin
2 small bay leaves
½ lime
1 cinnamon stick
½ orange
½ Mexican beer, preferably dark
Fresh cilantro
½ medium onio
2 Lbs. lard or cooking oil

Instructions

In a large vacuum or re-sealable bag, combine all ingredients.

Place bag in CVap Cook and Hold Oven at the settings below. Drink the other half of your Mexican beer!

carnitas in bag
Carnitas in CVap®

Carnitas CVap Cook and Hold Oven Settings:

Legacy CVap

High Yield Mode: OFF
Doneness: 178
Browning: 0
Time: 8 hours

New CVap

High Yield Mode: OFF
Vapor Temp: 178°F
Air Temp: 178°F
Time: 8 hours

  1. Once the timer goes off, pull the bag out of the Cook and Hold oven and separate the pork cubes from the other ingredients.
  2. Place lard or oil in a fryer or large pot on the stove and set to 350°F (or medium-high heat). Drop the cubes into the oil and let fry until golden brown, about one minute.

Now comes the easy part: eat the carnitas! I usually enjoy them over a bed of rice and beans with a little salsa on top. I also like them in a corn tortilla with diced onions, cilantro, and freshly squeezed lime. Then again, sometimes I just eat them right out of the pot because it’s fried pork and I’m impatient. There is no right or wrong here, just enjoy!

carnitas pork frying
carnitas meat

Delicious Asian Dumplings, CVap Style

Dipping dumplings in soy sauce
Asian Dumpling

May is Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage month. We celebrated by preparing dumplings in our CVap® ovens.

It’s always fun to scratch cook. But we cheated a little with these. Frozen premade dumplings are delicious and easy. We prepared two distinct types:

  • Bao – Fluffy steamed buns. These are traditionally stuffed with a pork mixture. Bao originated in China. They’ve been a part of Chinese cuisine for over a millennium.
  • Jiaozi – Also known as potstickers, these dumplings are usually filled with ground meat and vegetables, wrapped in a wonton wrapper, and sealed by pressing the edges together. Jiaozi are popular throughout Southeast Asia and Western countries. Like bao, jiaozi has been around for over a thousand years.

Gentle Steaming in CVap

Our goal was to demonstrate the gentle steaming abilities of CVap CHV Cook and Hold Oven and RTV Retherm Ovens. Most commercial steamers cook at 212°F or higher. Steam is incredibly efficient at thermal transfer. Consequently, blasting away at food with boiling-temp steam can easily overcook it.

On the other hand, CVap ovens can generate a 100% humidity environment at 200°F vapor, 200°F air. As “gentle steam” implies, this environment is ideal for more delicate foods. Above all, the operator has more control over food quality. And what is more delicate than a bao dumpling?

bao dumplings being prepared for CVap oven

Into the Ovens

Both the CHV and RTV ovens were set to 200/200. We cooked half the dumplings in traditional bamboo steamer baskets. On the other hand, the rest were placed directly onto perforated sheet pans.

As expected, the dumplings cooked a bit faster in the retherm oven. The RTV is more powerful. Accordingly, it excelled at retherming these frozen treats. Both the bamboo and the sheet pan preparations produced excellent results. One advantage to the steamer baskets is that the dumplings may be served directly to the consumer, without removing them from the basket. In contrast, the sheet pan dumplings had to be plated.

Some traditionalists believe that the bamboo steamers give the dumplings a hint of a woody flavor that improves the quality of the dish.

In the end, no matter how they were prepared, or which oven cooked them, they were nonetheless delicious. Certainly, they provided a great opportunity to practice our chopstick skills.

Dumpling Type

RTV Cook Time

CHV Cook Time

Bao

15 – 25 minutes (depending on size)

20 – 30 minutes (depending on size)

Pot Sticker

15 – 20 minutes (depending on size)

20 – 25 minutes (depending on size)