There is no doubt that freshly made waffles are a highly popular, highly profitable breakfast item that has found a home on many menus beyond breakcfast. For example, chicken and waffles are appearing in a variety of formats, ranging from quick service to fine dining. From sandwiches to desserts, operators are incorporating the crispy, airy comfort food into creative (and sometimes crazy) applications.
We also have compiled a guide that will help you choose waffle maker with removable plates, if you are looking for the best one.
The key to maintaining a waffle maker’s high efficiency throughout its lifetime is to keep it clean. Overcooked waffle batter turns to carbon, and the carbon buildup acts as an insulator, slowing the cooking process. Slow cook times may cause internal components to overheat, causing the unit to malfunction. Furthermore, that carbon can flake off and stick to waffles, affecting both appearance and flavor. However, daily maintenance is usually all waffle makers need. The following tips will help you.
On the Grid
Cleaning the grids of the waffle maker each day is recommended by manufacturers. Waffle makers often come with removable grids to facilitate the process. While one set of grids soaks, another set can keep turning out waffles in high-volume operations.
There are three types of waffle maker grids: aluminum, nonstick-coated aluminum, and cast iron, all of which require slightly different cleaning and seasoning procedures.
- Aluminum. Manufacturers recommend seasoning new aluminum waffle grids beforehand with a nonstick agent. It is necessary to clean the grids first, then spray the surfaces and let them dry for about 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, turn the unit on and let it heat; the grids are now ready for use. Keep waffles coming off easily by re-seasoning periodically. Aluminum grids can be cleaned with aluminum-safe cleaner if carbon builds up.
- Nonstick-coated aluminum. Surfaces like this can be cleaned more easily. Wipe the grids with a non-abrasive brush after each batch. One manufacturer recommends turning the unit off and letting it cool, then placing a wet two- or three-ply paper towel between the grids and closing them. Use plastic utensils instead of metal when scraping away debris on a nonstick surface to avoid damaging it.
- Cast iron. Cast iron grids retain heat longer than aluminum and need less time to heat to temperature between batches because they are energy efficient.
Before using the equipment for the first time, wipe off the machine oil that has been applied during shipping. Once the plates are seasoned, spray the plates with oil while still unplugged, preheat the grids in the unit between 300°F and 400°F for 10 to 15 minutes. Turn off the unit, let the plates cool, and wipe away any excess cooking spray with a lint-free cloth. Repeat this process until the seasoned grids are ready for use. Ensure you do not use soap and water for routine cleaning of cast iron, as the plates will have to be re-seasoned. Remove debris with a stiff brush-first from the top plate, then from the bottom. One manufacturer recommends using a foodservice-grade degreaser to remove excess carbon buildup that cannot be removed with a brush.
At the end of every day, owners should not only clean the grids but also the entire waffle maker. Unplug the unit and turn it off to clean it. With a damp sponge and hot detergent water, clean the housing. Wipe dry with a damp cloth after rinsing.
Solutions for Spillovers
The staff should be trained to clean any spillover from the waffle maker’s housing as soon as possible. Spillover can leave grease spots on the unit if left to dry. Although these spots do not affect the waffle maker’s operation, they are unsightly and can appear filthy to customers in operations with open kitchens.
If spills enter the housing, they can damage internal mechanisms and cause the machine to fail. It’s important to use the recommended amount of batter in order to avoid spills and food waste. One manufacturer places its controls on the top of the unit, preventing spills from damaging the controls. In addition, another company offers a removable stainless overspill trough that protects the unit’s base.
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When properly maintained, today’s waffle makers produce quality food for a long time. If the thermostat or heating elements no longer work properly, consider replacing existing units with new ones, although at least one manufacturer says these parts can be easily replaced by a qualified technician.