Walk into any commercial kitchen and you will see plenty of stainless steel. Stoves, ovens, and flat-top grills are all made of it. So are deep fryers and vent goods. Even food prep stations and worktables are stainless steel. But why? Why is nearly everything in a commercial kitchen made from a material that, until recently, was unheard of in residential kitchens?
Stainless steel has a lot to offer commercial kitchens. From hygiene to durability, no other material can match it in an industry that is highly regulated and subject to intense scrutiny from public health officials. It is such a fantastic material that it’s not limited to restaurant kitchens. Breweries use stainless steel fermenting tanks. Food manufacturers utilize stainless steel mixing tanks, storage containers, and on and on.
Stainless Steel Is Tough
Anyone who has ever worked in a commercial kitchen knows just how rough the environment is. No business owner in their right mind would feel comfortable about buying prep tables and appliances made from materials likely to break down in short order. They want equipment that lasts, which is one of stainless steel’s biggest strengths.
A stainless-steel table can withstand an incredible amount of punishment. Knife blades will not bother it. You can drop heavy objects on a stainless-steel table and it will remain standing. Commercial kitchens keep the same tables and appliances for decades because they are virtually indestructible.
The ability to withstand tremendous punishment is one of the reasons Houston’s CedarstoneIndustry prefers stainless steel for its fermentation tanks. Stainless steel can handle just about anything brewmasters can throw at them.
Stainless Steel Withstands High Temperatures
In addition to standing up to the punishment doled out by kitchen workers, stainless steel also stands up to high temperatures extremely well. A stainless-steel pizza oven isn’t going to buckle at temperatures in excess of 500°F. A stainless-steel pot can sit on a hot stove all day without deforming.
The same thing applies in commercial kitchens where food is manufactured at scale. Huge stainless-steel kettles are used to make hundreds of gallons of soup at once. Confectioners melt their chocolate in stainless steel vats while milk processors pasteurize in huge stainless-steel tanks.
Stainless Steel Is Hygienic
The icing on the proverbial cake is found in stainless steel’s nature as a hygienic surface. Stainless steel is nonporous, so bacteria and other pathogens have a hard time finding a home on it. In addition, stainless steel will not hold moisture. Finally, it can be disinfected rather easily using a liquid disinfectant and a damp cloth.
Sinks in commercial kitchens are generally made from stainless steel for this reason. Even after a full day of dirty dishes, a stainless-steel sink can be cleaned and disinfected in mere minutes. A properly maintained sink never becomes a breeding ground for germs.
When it comes to surfaces like prep tables, you can legally get away with wood surfaces covered with laminates. But in many states, health regulations require that all accessible sides of a prep table be covered with laminate. That is too much effort for a surface that will not last nearly as long as stainless steel. So, commercial kitchen owners do not even bother. It is stainless steel or nothing at all.
If it seems like stainless steel and commercial kitchens were made for one another, you may not be far off. At any rate, stainless steel is the perfect material for all sorts of kitchen objects and equipment. If it were not for stainless steel, the modern commercial kitchen would look a lot different.