Cook & Hold Ovens vs. Rethermalization Ovens
At FWE we manufacture over fifty different lines of equipment that are all uniquely designed to serve our customer’s specific needs. Navigating our extensive catalog of products can sometimes be overwhelming. At first glance, it may seem like two product series serve the same purpose. These products might even have similar technical specs, designs, and features, but we can assure you that no two series are the same.
For example, FWE Cook and Hold Ovens (LCH Series) and Rethermalization Ovens (RH Series) may look similar on paper, but they have vastly different capabilities and applications. One of the most frequently asked questions we receive is which of these two series would best be suited for a customer’s operation. Below, we will go into further detail about these two series and hopefully create a clear picture of when and where to use each.
Before we explore the differences, let’s go over some of the similarities between these two products. The main two are:
At a quick glance, it may be hard to tell the difference between these two series from the outside. Both are constructed with a fully stainless steel, tubular base frame and encased in a fully stainless steel outer shell. These units are fully insulated on all four sides, the top, the bottom, and even the door.
Our control panels are always designed with simplicity in mind. We want users to easily be able to operate our equipment and the LCH and RH series are no different. These electronic controls feature an easy-to-read digital touchscreen display of the cabinet’s temperature and are equipped with a programmable low temperature alarm. Additionally, these controls come with 8 fully programmable buttons that allow different presets, enabling operators to set the desired temperature with a click of a button. Depending on the model, these control panels can also provide settings for adjusting smoker and moisture holding capabilities.
Now that we have explored a couple of the two units’ similarities, let’s dive deeper into each one to understand which unit works best in different situations.
Low Temp Cook and Hold Ovens provide the most value for the spend. They are used to cook food low and slow to maximize yields primarily while cooking large roasts or joints of proteins. This low and slow cooking style is controlled by either an internal probe or a cooking time selected by the operator, allowing users to cook their product to the perfect internal temperature. The heat system operates by incorporating a gentle fan that enables the natural caramelization process, without the use of any browning agents, to preserve the taste of your meat’s natural flavors.
We always say the heating system is the engine behind every heating unit that we produce, and this unit’s “Cook n Hold” heating system is no different. This heating system relies on utilizing an R85/F15 low-volume air circulation. In short, this means that it relies on using a mix of 85% radiant heat and 15% forced air convection to cook foods.
If you would like to learn more about our radiant heat system in detail, visit our “A Guide to Heating Systems” article where we go more in depth about how this heating system works.
The final 15%, which uses forced air convection, is equally as important as the other 85%. This system employs a series of fans to slowly move heated air across the surface of the cooking meat. This process puts the finishing touches on the meat to take advantage of a natural reaction to brown the meat absent of any flavor-altering browning agents.
One of the most important aspects of cooking meats is retaining the juices. The hold feature in the LCH/LCH-G2 holds the proteins until ready for service but also allows for a gentle decline from the cooking temperature to allow natural enzymes in the meat to create natural tenderization and optimum texture.
According to this study completed by the American Meat Science Association, “if tenderness is rated to be unacceptable, then there would be a 69% chance that a consumer will deem overall palatability unacceptable”. Within this same study, they also infer that “customers will pay a premium for beef with known tenderness”.
In short, the results of this study back up our claim that incorporating an LCH unit into your kitchen to cook large proteins can make customers happier, willing to pay more, and more likely to return to your restaurant in the future. Happier customers, more money in your pocket, and more repeat customers is what every restaurant aspires towards.
This style of cooking not only produces some of the most flavorful, succulent pieces of meat possible but also produces more of it by preventing shrinkage. Depending on the cut of meat, shrinkage can steal up to 25% of the product! This is made possible by both elements within our R85/F15 system. The slow-moving forced air convection locks in the moisture held within the meats while browning the exterior. In addition to this, our Radiant Heat system gently cooks food at lower temperatures preventing excess moisture loss caused by higher temperatures.
We’ve provided an example of what savings could look like using our Cook and Hold Yield Calculator for an operation that goes through 100 lbs of Prime Rib per day at $25.00/lb and the savings are staggering.
According to the USDA, since January 2020 the price of Chicken has increased by 22%, Pork by 26%, and Beef by 23%. With the drastically increasing prices of meat, making sure you get the most out of every piece of protein purchased is an absolute must. You can try our Cook and Hold Yield Calculator for yourself by following the link provided, or by inputting information into the calculator below.
They aren’t called “Cook and Hold ovens” for nothing. These cabinets can be utilized as an emergency backup to hold prepared foods. The heating system reduces drying, shrinkage, and flavor loss while holding prepared foods, just as it does while cooking foods. Greater moisture control and faster heating times can be achieved with our moisture-temp models, such as the LCH-18-MT, increasing humidity within the cabinet to further reduce moisture loss within your foods.
Additionally, these units can be modified with smoker capabilities. Smokers can take up a lot of valuable space and can put a limit on your operations. However, a properly utilized Cook and Hold Smoker, such as the LCH-6-SK-G2, can save you time, space, and money by combining cooking, holding, and smoking all into one piece of equipment.
FWE Model: LCH-1826-7-7-G2 Shown Above
Rethermalization Ovens, or retherm ovens, are a much faster, more potent system, that utilizes powerful blower fans with forced air tunnels and substantially higher wattage elements. The RH series models are designed to bring previously prepared, fully cooked items at a refrigerated state or frozen foods that have been slacked, back to service temperatures and then maintain the hold temperature determined by the user.
Designed to heat hundreds of meals at a time, Retherms are used in facilities that need to serve large crowds with limited workers. This style of cooking is most often used in facilities with off-site food preparation or those that prepare food in a central kitchen and then send the prepared, frozen food off to satellite kitchens where the food is warmed for serving. These often include ghost kitchens, schools, and hospitals. They are designed to heat hundreds of meals at a time to serve large crowds within facilities where available labor is limited.
Retherm ovens utilize some of our most powerful heat systems. These units have a heating system that incorporates high-wattage heating elements, paired with substantially more powerful blower fans, as well as forced air tunnels to quickly move the heated air throughout the unit. This ensures that every inch of the product is heated to the same temperature and prevents cold spots. Units using this heating system take foods that have been prepared earlier, and often at a separate facility, and bring them back to serving temperatures quickly and safely, and within HACCP guidelines.
With retherm ovens, additional power is your ally. The higher the wattage element, and the larger the fan size, the quicker it can reheat batches of product. To give our customers another option for quicker reheating times, we have created our RH-HO lines of products, such as the RH-18-HO, where “HO” stands for “High Output”. These units have an even larger heating element, paired with upgraded blower fans. Our standard retherm ovens have a heating element that is rated at 208-240 volts, but these “high-output” units have heating elements that use up to 480 volts to heat the air. This upgrade can make a massive difference in your kitchen to provide faster reheating times, faster recovery times, and greatly increases efficiency while batch reheating meals for large groups of people.
Additionally, FWE has developed the RH-MT line, such as the RH-18-MT, where “MT” stands for “Moisture Temp”. These units use the same wattage elements and powerful blower fans as our standard retherm ovens but have the benefit of adding supplementary moisture to greatly enhance the quality of the product, while also not adding any extra cooking time.
Introducing a few properly operated retherm ovens can help eliminate food waste, labor costs, and offer consistently high-quality products. This is thanks largely to the “set it and forget it” capabilities that these unit’s control panels provide. Operators can use the control panel to program up to 8 different settings creating the same internal environment with the push of a button and receive the same results time after time. This eliminates both the need for constant monitoring, freeing up operators to focus on other areas of their work, as well as eliminating improperly preparing foods, that then must be disposed of.
In addition to these recurring savings, FWE retherm ovens have large upfront savings. Our units are designed so there is no costly hood space required, nor the installation of an expensive exhaust or fire extinguisher system. FWE has ensured that these units surpass EPA 202 & ANSI NFPA96 standards. (do keep in mind that local codes prevail, so ensure that you review those before making any decisions)
We know we mentioned schools already, but we wanted to discuss it again due to retherm ovens being extremely prevalent in this sector. Schools are perfect candidates when it comes to our RH series. There are hundreds, maybe even thousands, of students and faculty being fed throughout the day. Operators are working tirelessly to make sure that everyone is fed a proper meal with limited time and space to work. Retherm ovens are an excellent way to cut down on food waste by procuring consistent yields every time and reducing labor costs by freeing up labor to focus on other aspects of the operation. When the lunch bell rings, you want the food to taste oven-fresh, even if it has been held for hours. After all, it is all about a good meal, and FWE keeps it that way!
FWE Model: RH-18 Shown Above
That’s a lot of information to take in and if you’re still wondering which equipment is right for you, we’ve summed it up below:
Bulk Food Heated Holding Cabinets
Moisture Holding Cabinets
Proofer / Heater Cabinets
Heated Holding Shelves
Low Temp Cook & Hold Ovens
Refrigerators, Air Screens & Freezers
Racks & Queen Mary
Tray Delivery Carts
Enclosed Non-Heated Transport Carts
Mobile Bars & Back Up Service