How does freezing your food in seconds sound? Well, Smeg has released an Australian first domestic Blast Chiller that alters the temperature of cooked food quickly and safely. The benefits are said to be threefold for people who enjoy meal prepping without compromising on food safety. It’s also claimed to extend the life of stored food while maintaining its texture, nutrients and aroma. It might look like your average oven on the outside, but it can do much more. However, it will cost you, so let’s have a look at what it’s all about.
What is a blast chiller?
The blast chiller is an appliance used to preserve the quality of food by cooling it down rapidly. It’s commonly found in the catering sector such as in hospitals, pubs, airlines, schools and event caterers, but it has now made its way into your average kitchen. According to Smeg, its blast chiller range is aimed to help with your day-to-day kitchen management, helping you to save time and minimise food wastage. It’s stated that this process of rapid cooling enables bacterial proliferation to be stopped, which in turn allows food to be stored for up to 70% longer.
How long does a blast chiller take?
Most blast chillers are stated to lower the temperature of food in less than an hour and a half. Smeg’s model is stated to take less than 90 minutes to reduce the temperature of prepared meals to 3°C and up to 270 minutes to lower the temperature to -18°C.
What temperature should a blast chiller be?
Smeg’s Blast Chiller has a minimum temperature of -35°C and a maximum temperature of 75°C. However, this might vary with other brands, especially for commercial blast chillers.
What can you use a blast chiller for?
There are a number of specific settings that the Smeg blast chiller is equipped with. We list these features along with an outline of what they do.
- Blast chilling: a function stated to lower the temperature of food to 3°C in less than 90 minutes, which is an ideal temperature for storing food in a fridge, according to Smeg. This allows you to keep food for longer and serve it later as if it had just been cooked. Smeg states that the steam released by hot food when it cools down by itself disperses most of the nutrients, so in turn the food becomes depleted of vitamins, proteins, minerals and flavour.
- Rapid freezing: is claimed to lower the core temperature of food to -18°C. Unlike freezing, rapid freezing produces microscopic crystals that don’t damage food fibres, which in turn is stated to keep the “organoleptic and nutritional properties of fresh foods unaltered”, allowing it to be eaten throughout the year without losing flavour or consistency. Smeg notes that this is useful for storing seasonal fresh fruit and vegetables to eat during the following months without the use of any preservative. Imagine eating mangoes all year round!
- Personalised conservation: at the end of each cooling cycle, the blast chiller automatically goes into a personalised conservation mode, to keep your meal at the correct temperature. It’s useful for keeping desserts and ice cream at the right temperature before serving.
- Controlled defrosting: this function is said to keep food hydrated, prevent oxidation, plus prevent changes in colour and consistency, which allows you to defrost any type of food, respecting the characteristics and properties of it. According to Smeg, common household systems involve using water or a microwave to defrost, which can cause the food to become partially cooked, altering the quality.
- Natural proving: allows you to obtain optimal proving for different types of dough. A proving cycle with up to three steps can be selected. This allows you to obtain light and digestible dough using a minimum amount of yeast, according to Smeg.
- Drinks cooling: as the name suggests, this setting is designed to lower the temperature of drinks by 1°C per minute. So, you won’t need to keep bottles in the fridge for hours before serving as it can bring drinks to the required temperature in a few minutes.
- Slow, low temperature cooking: allows you to cook meat at low temperature (75°C) while monitoring cooking with a probe. Those who are a fan of slow cooking would know how cooking at low temperatures enhances the flavours and helps to preserve the aroma and consistency without damaging the food.
- Ready to eat: a function that allows you to keep dishes at refrigerator temperature during the day and automatically heat them up at a pre-set time, so that it’s ready when required. This means you can find a hot and ready meal when you get home, without compromising on food safety, Smeg states.
Smeg Blast Chiller range
Smeg’s Blast Chiller is claimed to be a multifunctional and versatile appliance, with an elegant design to integrate seamlessly with other Smeg products in the range. The compact blast chiller for domestic use is available in Linea, Classica and Dolce Stil Novo versions. Here’s a list of the models currently available:
- Classic SAB4304X: Fingerprint proof stainless steel
- Linear SAB4104S: Silver glass
- Dolce Stil Novo SAB4604NR: Black
- Dolce Stil Novo SAB4604NX: Black
The last two units are part of the Dolce Stil Novo premium kitchen collection, boasted to be designed and made in Italy with signature Eclipse black opaque glass oven doors. The two units are claimed to harmonise with other appliances when not in use, becoming clear when they are switched on. Refined stainless steel or copper detailing is aimed to complement the sleek, mirrored surfaces.
The units are designed with three shelves and have a 38.5L net volume. In terms on noise levels, expect 48 decibels, which is as quiet as a modern fridge. Besides the aesthetics that set the models apart, all other programs and settings are the same. The functions are separated into the following categories:
- 5 cold functions: cooling, preservation, pre-cooling, bottles cooling, deep freezing
- 5 warming functions: low temperature cooking, defrost by weight, proving, defrost by time, ready to eat
- 60 automatic programs
There are several additional features that are inbuilt into the range. These include a child lock for safety, a demo mode and language settings, allowing users to switch between languages. There’s also a digital clock display, plus clock settings and tones to notify you when a specific meal is ready.
How much do blast chillers cost?
Smeg’s Blast Chiller retails for $7,490 and carries a five-year warranty. This is a pretty hefty price to pay but if its functions are ones you’re interested in, then perhaps it’s worth the investment. Blast chillers are usually designed for commercial use, so it’s not typically something you’d find on a smaller scale like the Smeg range, which might explain its current price.
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Should I buy a blast chiller?
A blast chiller is a common tool in a professional kitchen and is now ready to enter the houses of those who are looking for healthy, high-quality food with significant time savings at home, according to Smeg. Cooling food rapidly ensures that its quality and freshness remain unaltered. In addition, it’s claimed to extend the life of stored foods while retaining texture, aroma and nutrients. If you like to cook ahead, a blast chiller might help with your weekly meal planning and reduce food spoilage.
There are plenty of other functions that a blast chiller is equipped with. These include deep freezing, defrosting, low temperature cooking, delay start, temperature hold, beverage chilling, proving and sanitising, which in turn offers greater creative possibilities to prepare professional-quality meals.
However, it would be wise to do your research and consider the price and energy costs involved. It’s also important to buy a blast chiller that’s the right size for your home and needs. All Smeg models are a set size, specifically for domestic use. This might help to ensure you make use of the full capacity to save on energy bills. But if spending almost $7,500 on this high-tech kitchen appliance is way out of your budget, perhaps you can do without.