So, I got a blast chiller. A reach-in blast chiller.
OK, I might have gone overboard.
But I had good reason: it was like 90% off the original price. The guy who owned it had recently shuttered his bed and breakfast venture and just wanted to get it off his hands. I happily obliged. Of course, being commercial grade, it required commercial voltage. So I had to get a 240V outlet installed.
OK, so I might have gone overboard.
The Purpose Of Blast Chilling
Why would I want a blast chiller in the first place? Blast chilling cools food down very fast by using circulating fans to keep the air continuously cold around the food, much like fans in a convection oven keep the air hot and even. The most common reason to do this is that it keeps your food out of the temperature zone where bacteria grow.
A blast chiller also serves other purposes. It can be used like a cold dehydrator, perfect for accelerating the drying process of chicken skin for combi oven roast chicken. It is also is a great way station in between the oven or stove top and the freezer. Keeping your food at room temperature invites bacterial growth. Immediately sticking it in the freezer or refrigerator brings down the overall temperature, warming up the food already in there. A blast chiller allows you to get it to the temperature where you can safely store it without messing with your other foodstuffs. It’s also great for quickly chilling beverages, and who doesn’t like that?
I wanted to try something out to see how it works. I remembered a post by Ideas In Food about their blast chiller, and how one great use they found for theirs was cooling down pies. The pies could be made later in the day and still be served the same day, cooled down and set up as if they sat overnight. Sounds good to me. Pie it is.
Hot Pie, Cool Pie
First I made a blueberry raspberry pie. Nothing avant garde or fancy here, just a pie. Mmm, pie.
I took its temperature both on the surface and internally.
191.5F degrees on the surface, 186.9F internally. From there I tossed it into the blast chiller.
I decided to put on blast for 30 minutes. It dropped 27 degrees in 15 minutes, then 1 degree more the next 15 minutes.
I pulled the pie out and took new reading of the surface and internal temperature.
Externally, it went from 191.5F to 69.5F – a difference of 122 degrees. Internally, it went from 186.9F to 101.1F – a difference of 85.8 degrees. That is a huge difference in just 30 minutes. I wanted to run it for another thirty minutes, but it seems this model would reset first – go up to 38F, and then be ready to blast chill again. I need to see if that’s the case or if I’m misusing the thing. But the pie was definitely ready to be served if needed.
Now, it should be noted there’s a much, much cheaper method to cool things down: an ice bath. It works just as effectively. But, of course, not everything can be dunked into an ice bath. Pies, for instance. And in this case, a blast chiller is a great way to get what you’re cooking from the oven into your belly in a much shorter time frame.