The commercial mixer is the modern answer to all your kneading woes. Available in distinct types, varieties, and sizes, the food mixer is as customizable as it is versatile, excellent for pizza dough mixing as much as it is for all your mashing and whipping needs. Be it hydraulic or planetary mixers, belt-driven mixers or gear-driven, whether you’re a pizzeria or an up-and-coming restaurant, we have the perfect commercial mixer to suit your kitchen! Before investing in an all-round appliance fit for your kitchen’s needs, read on to learn the most important factors to consider when making your commercial mixer purchase.
What is a Commercial Mixer?
A commercial mixer is an indispensable piece of equipment for any kitchen that uses dough or batter. Given their versatility, commercial mixers can also be used for other food preparation tasks, such as whipping eggs or cream and mashing potatoes. Though there exist three types of food mixers available in multiple speeds and lifts, most industrial mixers share the same components and features. They include the front and rear cover, the safety guard, the mixing appliance, the bowl, the bowl lift lever, and two controls that regulate the speed and power of the mixer.
Types of Commercial Mixers
Based on their motion and function, industrial mixers are widely available in three types:
Planetary Mixers: Named so because of their agitator’s rotary motion – similar to that of a planet around its sun – planetary mixers, or vertical mixers, are the go-to for cookie dough, heavy dough, and at their multifarious best, they can slice vegetables, meat, and grate cheese. As a matter of fact, planetary mixers are best for ingredients with high moisture content, such as (mashed) potatoes and whipped cream. Of course, this versatility is best available to planetary mixers fully equipped with the right appendages; including but not limited to agitators and other hub attachments. In planetary mixers, the agitator turns an offset shaft while the bowl itself is unmoving. Planetary commercial mixers come in sizes ranging from 20 quarts, i.e., countertop planetary mixers, to 200 quarts, or floor planetary mixers.
Spiral Mixers: Also known as dough mixers, the spiral mixer is named after its spiral-shaped agitator. Another distinguishing factor is the spiral mixer’s speed; with high-powered motors, the spiral mixer is ideal for heavy-duty mixing in large confectionaries and pizzerias. Unlike most mixers, the spiral variant includes two motors, one to rotate the agitator and the other to rotate the bowl. While spiral mixers can handle anywhere between 50 and 600 pounds of dough, they can knead even more when accompanied by a hydraulic bowl lift. If you’re looking for a giant industrial mixer that can handle huge amounts of daily dough, look no further than the spiral mixer.
Vertical Cutter Mixers: Vertical cutter mixers are also a perfect fit for restaurants that serve high volumes of patrons. Their high-powered motors, interior agitators, and large mixing bowls make them capable of handling larger sizes of food at a time. The vertical cutter mixer is best used for making sauces, chopping salads, meats, and, of course, mixing batter.
Based on size, a commercial mixer can be a countertop mixer that accommodates anywhere between 5-10 quart-bowls, while stand mixers are the next commercial kitchen-friendly size. Any food mixer that is capable of mixing more than 20 quarts is considered a floor mixer, and as the name suggests, is best placed on your kitchen floor.
Commercial Mixer Features
Commercial mixer drivers are responsible for the movement of the mixer’s system during operation. There are two popular driver systems, the belt driver and gear-driven system.
While the belt driver has better longevity and is less expensive to maintain, it is less suited for heavy-duty mixing than the gear-driven system. Additionally, the belt driver may require frequent maintenance, particularly because belts suffer from ‘slip’, a phenomenon caused by inadequate grip between the belt system and the drive.
A gear-driven industrial mixer eliminates the high maintenance and slip issues of the belt system, but maintenance issues are usually more expensive to service than those of the belt driver.
Professional mixers typically feature a wide range of speeds to accommodate different mixing activities. The speed of your mixer will depend on its horsepower and should be customized according to the nature of the attachments you use during mixing (particularly for a planetary mixer). While dough hooks and pastry knives are perfect for low speeds, flat beaters and sweet dough hooks are best used at medium speeds. The wing whip and wire loop are ideal for higher speeds.
Some professional mixers also allow you to change the speed during mixing (which greatly maximizes the mixer’s productivity), however, it is best to consult the appliance’s user manual before changing the speed on-the-fly, as it may cause undue mechanical stress on machines that require the operation to be stopped before changing the mixer’s speed.
Every industrial mixer comes in different sizes for different types of food mixing operations, and this means that their motor, or the motor’s horsepower, varies as well. While standard-duty mixers provide horsepower of 1/3 HP to ½ HP for simple whipping tasks, the medium-duty (3/4 to 3/2 HP) is perfectly suited for lightweight and heavy doughmaking tasks alike. The heavy-duty mixer, whose horsepower is 3/2 HP and above, are ideal for high-volume tasks at confectionaries and pizzerias.
Industrial mixer bowls are lifted and seated in two different ways, and it’s best to by a mixer with a bowl lift that best suits your kitchen’s pace and needs:
Manual bowl Lift
The most common variety among industrial mixers, the manual bowl lift includes a lever or a movable upper housing appliance that allow manual lifting and raising of the bowl.
Electric Bowl Lift
Ideal for the busy kitchen, the electric bowl lift can automatically lift and raise the bowl with a simple button.
Other Convenience and Safety Features
Bowl Guard: Bowl guards are designed to prevent external objects from coming in contact with the apparatus during mixing. Most mixers are required to be accompanied with a bowl guard according to OSHA regulations.
Bowl Support Interlocks and Foot Pads: While the former ensures that the bowl is firmly in place during usage, foot pads ensure that the machine is fixed in place.
Other optional features include:
No Voltage Release Mechanisms
Choosing the Best Commercial Mixer for Your Kitchen
Keeping in mind a commercial mixer’s features, there are three particular aspects to address to make the right purchase:
The Absorption Ratio: The absorption ratio is defined as the amount of water you use divided by the amount of flour you use per operation. The lower the absorption ratio, the more powerful the mixer will need to be. For example, if you use your mixer to make bread dough more often than you use it to whip cream, you’ll need to buy a medium- or -heavy-duty commercial mixer.
The usage: The frequency and type of food your industrial mixer will be used for should be the next important aspects to address before making a purchase. Since most commercial mixers are well-equipped to handle standard usage, i.e., egg whites, whipped cream, cake batter, and the occasional pizza dough, you’ll only need to look at heavy-duty mixers if your kitchen serves high volumes of pizza, bread, and other bakery orders.
The amount being mixed: While standard 5-20-quart mixers should suffice for a medium-sized restaurant’s needs, larger applications may require a spiral mixer with a capacity of 40 quarts or more. For more accurate measurements and to determine whether a mixer is the best size for your restaurant, make sure to refer to the appliance’s user manual and the manufacturer’s website.
How to Maintain Your Commercial Mixer
Even the best commercial mixers frequently fall prey to poor maintenance. Taking regular care of your commercial mixer can greatly improve its longevity. Not only are the steps outlined below easy to perform, they can greatly extend the life of your purchase.
Make sure to never leave a mixer unattended while being operated.
Refer to the appliance’s safety manual before your first use.
Clean the main part of the machine after use every day with a sanitizing cloth.
Detach all the attachments before washing the appliance. Make sure to wash each attachment after every use in a dishwasher.
Do not change speeds or shift gears during usage, unless the mixer specifically has the on-the-fly feature included.
Avoid cleaning the appliance while plugged in.
Do not submerge the entire unit in water.
Make sure to get the mixer checked and serviced annually or half-yearly.
Depending on use, make sure to change the appliance’s oil whenever required.
Chef Buyer offers the best selection of planetary, spiral, and vertical cutter mixers available today. We provide a number of attachments designed to optimize your commercial mixer’s efficiency and products, including flat beaters, wire whips, dough hooks, pastry knives, and bowl scrapers. Browse our catalogue and feel free to contact our support center if you have any questions. We’ll get back to you as soon as possible!