Essential Commercial Salad Making Tools
Posted by CHERIE THOMPSON
Salads are good for the waistline. For restaurant operators, they can also be good for the bottom line. Before you decide they're not worth much space on your menu think again. According to Nuvo Magazine Canadian Food Trends for 2021, gourmet salads are rising in popularity, and "Artful options can also be found at high-end restaurants of various cuisines." We've seen this happening for the past decade. Restaurants that specialize in salad creations are increasingly popular as Canadians opt for healthy food options.
Even if your menu isn't salad-centric you can still have some creative offerings as sides. But it's also a good idea to add salad mains because more customers are opting for a protein-packed salad as their main dish.
To cash in on this lucrative market you'll need the right tools to create a side Caesar, beautiful Cobb, fancy Mediterranean salad, or Buddha bowl. Ensure you have these essential salad making tools on hand.
A good-quality chef knife is a great choice for cutting, slicing and chopping crunchy produce, however a paring knife works better for peeling and small, delicate tasks.
Be sure to have a selection of blade sizes, weights and styles so your kitchen staff have a choice of what works best for them. A good chef knife will also work well to slice protein additions like chicken, salmon, and beef. And don't forget the tofu and chickpeas for vegetarian protein fillers.
If you are serving house baked buns or bread with your salads, remember to have a bread knife on hand for clean slices.
A kitchen tool staple to accompany knives, commercial cutting boards are a must to protect your knives and your counters. Remember to have separate boards for produce and raw meat to avoid cross-contamination. There are a variety of colours available to make differentiation easier for kitchen staff.
A knife and a cutting board are capable of almost any task when it comes to cutting, peeling, slicing and dicing ingredients for salads. However, some kitchen tools can make those tasks much easier, saving valuable time and in some cases also reducing food waste.
Salads are loaded with fruits and vegetables, many of which need to be peeled. A peeler is preferred by many kitchens for their comfort and control.
Many people find a Y peeler the easiest commercial kitchen peeler to use but whatever your preference you'll want an excellent quality vegetable peeler to make quick work of carrots and other vegetables. You can also use it to add shaved or ribbon carrots to the mix.
Graters & Zesters
A good, or dare we say great, grater is an essential commercial kitchen tool that lets you prepare fine or course grates of fruits, vegetables and cheeses. A zester easily allows kitchens staff to add the zing of ginger, a pop of garlic, or lemon zest for flavourful salad additions.
Spiral slicers are great salad-making tools and can be used with zucchini and many other veggies to add a colourful splash to any salad or other dishes. A spiral cutter is a special tool that is a mix between a peeler and grater, making spiral-shaped pieces of hard vegetables. Spiraled veggies provide a different taste and texture profile to salad.
Manual Food Processors
Not all commercial kitchen equipment tools need to use an electrical outlet. Manual food processors can include dicers and slicers that are easy to use and make quick work of carrots and other raw vegetables to top off a salad or evenly slice a tomato.
Many manual food processors can achieve many cut sizes and shapes with a simple exchange of blades. Check out our guide on commercial manual food processors.
Commercial Food Processors
If you have lots of veggies and fruit to prepare for your salad menu, you might want to invest in a food processor to get the work done quickly. Electric versions can chop, grate, and julienne easily and can also be used to prepare other menu items like sauces and mincing herbs.
Learn about their capabilities, capacities, power, accessories and durability in our commercial food processor buying guide.
Food Storage Containers
Your salad mise en place only works with proper storage and is the the reason why food storage containers with lids are a must in any kitchen. There are many sizes and shapes as well as materials but some work better than others to keep produce fresher longer.
Using the proper sized and style of container saves busy commercial kitchens time and money in the long run.
Colanders and drain boxes are designed for use with food storage boxes and are the same dimensions as the box just a slightly shallower depth to allow for drainage. This feature promotes increased air circulation and keeps liquids separate from products to keep foods fresh. Perfect conditions for keeping those salad greens crisp.
Drain grates are designed for use with food storage boxes and sit at the bottom of the box. This raises the product off the bottom providing the same benefit of colanders and drain boxes of increased air circulation and allowing juices and liquids to drip.
Some manufacturers offer complete kits including the food storage box, colander/drain box, and lids. You can also find kits with a food storage box, drain grate, and lid – sometimes referred to as a produce crisper or produce storage container. Some manufacturers even have kits that contain a filter to maximize product shelf life.
Your customers don't like soggy greens and you shouldn't either. Properly washing greens inevitably leaves excess water on the leaves and the best way to remove that water is with a salad spinner.
Commercial salad spinners range in size, price and features. From small manually operated units that can handle 1-2 heads of lettuce to large automatic units that spin up to 40 heads of lettuce at the touch of a button.
Whichever type (or price point) that works best for your operation, salad spinners work in basically the same way. Made of three components an outer bowl, inner removeable bowl with holes (colander) and a lid. The mechanism, either manual or automatic, spins the inner colander which forces (centrifugal force) sends the water to the outer bowl where the water collects and then can be removed.
Every ingredient in your kitchen costs you money. To get the best handle on your food costs it is imperative to keep track of every ounce. The only way to do that is with the proper measuring tools. That includes volume and weight measurements.
From measuring cups and spoons to weigh scales (even dishers for a chicken or egg salad topping) commercial kitchen measuring tools will ensure that your salads are picture perfect and have the right taste and proper amount of ingredients every time. This is also important to ordering product by using exact measurements for each dish and will keep your costs under control if everything served has similar weights and measurements.
Every kitchen, large or small should have a selection of kitchen tongs are a must in kitchen food preparation, especially for salad tossing and serving. Be sure you have the right type of tong for the task at hand. For example, you wouldn't be using pastry or pom tongs to toss a 12 qt bowl of Caesar Salad.
Length of the tongs, the type of ends (smooth, scalloped, serrated, curved, flat, silicone coated), tong material and type of hinge are all considerations.
The tong you use back of house might not work front of house. Tableside service or family style salads the customer is going to see and even touch the serving tongs. Other considerations would be aesthetics, durability and easy of use - remember all of the details leave a lasting impression on your guests.
Properly tossing a salad takes the right bowl. That means a really big bowl. Bigger than you think you need. Ideally, when you add all the ingredients to the bowl it should only be about half full. This allows lots of room for tossing in the bowl instead of onto the counter or floor.
Using large bowls also reduces the amount of bruising to your carefully prepped, washed and dried greens and provide adequate space to evenly distribute all of the ingredients including the dressing.
Sensational salads are simple with the right salad making tools. Give your customers the healthy options they are looking for and give your business a healthier bottom line.
Written by Suzanne Boles