How to Choose the Best Planetary Mixer for Your Commercial Kitchen

Discover the secrets to selecting the perfect planetary mixer for your commercial kitchen. Learn the essential factors to consider, from size and speed settings, power options, and mixer construction to versatile attachments. Maximize productivity and efficiency with our comprehensive guide, and take your culinary creations to the next level!

Heavy duty planetary mixer
Heavy Duty Planetary Mixer

Choosing the right equipment is crucial for the efficient running of a commercial kitchen. One such device, which forms an essential part of a professional cook’s arsenal, is the planetary mixer. Named for the way the beater mixes in an orbital motion while rotating around the bowl- much like planets around the sun- this versatile tool can vastly improve your kitchen’s efficiency.

Why Choose a Planetary Mixer?

Commercial kitchens require heavy-duty, versatile appliances to handle a broad array of tasks, and a quality planetary mixer fits the bill perfectly. They can mix, whip, knead dough, and handle other mixing duties, thanks to their different attachment heads. Besides their multi-functionality, these mixers are robust, durable, and can deal with large batch sizes- a major boon for bustling kitchens.

Identifying Your Specific Needs

Before diving into the mixer market, it’s essential to identify your specific needs. The type of food you plan to prepare, the quantity of food you need to produce, and your available kitchen appliance space will determine the kind of mixer you require.

Selecting the Right Size

Commercial planetary mixers come in a wide range of sizes, each designed to cater to the specific needs of different types of commercial kitchens. The size you choose should best match the volume of mixing you’ll need to perform daily and the available space in your kitchen.

1. Countertop Mixers: Designed for smaller tasks, the compact countertop mixers usually offer capacities ranging from 5 to 20 litres. They take up minimal space, with dimensions typically not exceeding 56 cm in width, 56cm in depth, and 33cm in height. These mixers are ideal if your establishment needs to make dough for a few dozen cookies a day or mix up cake batter for single cakes.

2. Medium-duty Floor Mixers: For larger tasks, medium-duty floor mixers, with a capacity ranging from 20 to 40 litres, are a trusted choice. Dimensions for these models typically vary from approximately 56 cm width, 70 cm depth, and 125 cm height. If your operations include making multiple cakes daily or kneading dough for several batches of bread, these mixers would cater well to your needs.

3. Heavy-duty Floor Mixers: Functioning optimally in high-volume bakeries and busy restaurant kitchens, heavy-duty floor mixers boast massive capacities, typically ranging from 40 litres up to an impressive 100 litres. Their dimensions can be around 70 cm in width, 90 cm depth, and even reach up to 160 cm height. If your establishment needs to prepare dough for hundreds of loaves of bread or mix vast quantities of ingredients daily, these mixers would be superb for optimised productivity.

While deciding on the size, don’t forget to consider the necessary manoeuvring room needed for operation and maintenance. Select the size that complements your kitchen’s operations to witness the best results a planetary mixer offers.

Considering the Speed Settings

Planetary mixers are designed with varying speed settings to handle a myriad of tasks with optimal efficiency. From kneading dense dough to lightly whipping cream, each function requires a specific speed level:

1. Low Speeds (60-100 RPM): This range is perfect for mixing heavier, more dense mixtures. Tasks such as kneading dough, incorporating fat into flour for pie crusts, or combining heavy batter require a slower speed to ensure the components bind together properly.

2. Intermediate Speeds (125-200 RPM): This mid-range speed setting is best suited for general mixing tasks, such as making batters for cakes or brownies and combining semi-dense mixtures. It’s also a useful speed for the initial mixing of lighter doughs and for incorporating mixtures that might splash or sift out of the bowl at higher speeds.

3. High Speeds (275-350 RPM): High speeds are intended for whipping tasks and mixing light, aerated products. Use these speeds for whipping cream, egg whites, or making meringues, sponge cakes, and other fluffy baked goods. Fast mixing not only incorporates air but also helps ensure that lightweight ingredients are thoroughly mixed.

Keep in mind that these speed ranges may vary slightly depending on the make and model of your mixer. It’s always beneficial to start at a lower speed and gradually increase it as required to prevent splashing or over-mixing. Always consider the recipe and the recommended mixing speed specified by the manufacturer to achieve the best results.

Checking the Power Options

Planetary mixers’ power specifications, usually measured in Watts, influence their ability to work with dense doughs or large volumes of ingredients. As a rule, a higher wattage indicates more power, allowing the mixer to handle harder mixing tasks. Below are the typical power options you might come across:

1. Light-Duty Mixers (100 – 250 Watts): These mixers are suited for lighter tasks, such as whipping cream or making cake batter. They are usually smaller countertop models, ideal for establishments with limited space and lighter baking needs.

2. Medium-Duty Mixers (250 – 750 Watts): These are more versatile, able to handle the needs of most baking and cooking tasks. They can mix denser doughs, but remember not to overwork them as they may heat up.

3. Heavy-Duty Mixers (750 – 1500 Watts): High-powered, these mixers can deal with the densest bread doughs and large volumes without straining. A great option for commercial kitchens where multi-batch, constant mixing is standard practice.

Note that more powerful mixers can be significantly larger in size and come with a higher price tag. Therefore, when considering your power options, always factor in your requirements and available budget.

Examining the Mixer’s Construction

When purchasing a planetary mixer for a commercial kitchen, it’s essential to consider the mixer’s construction, materials, and build quality.

1. Material Construction: Look for a mixer with an all-metal construction. A planetary mixer that incorporates stainless steel in the construction of the bowl, beater, and other parts will be more robust and durable than those using plastic or lesser metals. They’re also easier to clean and maintain.

2. Gear-Driven Systems vs Belt-Driven systems: Planetary mixers typically come with one of two types of drive systems – gear-driven or belt-driven. Gear-driven systems are usually more robust, durable, and efficient, but they tend to be noisier and need more frequent maintenance. In contrast, belt-driven systems are quieter, less expensive, and easier to maintain, but they may not perform as well with heavy loads.

3. Motor Housing: The motor housing should be well-built, designed for proper heat dispersion to keep the motor from overheating. An overworked motor could shorten the mixer’s lifespan.

4. Mixer Bowl Guard Safety: A safety feature found on commercial mixers, a bowl guard, covers the mixer’s bowl during operation. This feature is important for preventing injury, maintaining sanitary conditions, and ensuring large ingredients stay inside the mixer. Many areas require a bowl guard by regulation, so make sure the mixer you’re looking at comes equipped with one.

5. Mixer Attachments: The attachments should be well crafted, robust, and easy to clean. Stainless steel attachments are superior to aluminum ones because they won’t oxidize and are more durable.

By paying attention to these details in the mixer’s construction, you can ensure that the planetary mixer will last many years, delivering the performance your commercial kitchen needs.

Looking at the Available Attachments

A key feature that sets planetary mixers apart is the variety of attachments that can be used, each suited to perform specific tasks:

1. Dough Hooks: Dough hooks, also known as spiral hooks, are primarily used for kneading dough. They are perfect for preparing doughs for bread, pizza, and heavy pastry, working the dough thoroughly to develop the gluten.

2. Flat Beaters: Also known as paddles, flat beaters are all-purpose mixing tools that come standard with planetary mixers. They are excellent for mixing cake batter, mashed potatoes, or any other dish that requires ingredients to be combined evenly. They also work well for ‘creaming’ tasks – beating butter and sugar together until they’re light and fluffy.

3. Wire Whisks: Wire whisks are used for aerating mixtures. They are the go-to attachment when you need to incorporate air into your mix. They’re perfect for whipping cream, beating egg whites, or fluffing up a sponge cake mix. Their design allows them to break up clumps and add air to the mix, which can give you light, fluffy results.

4. Paddle Attachments: Paddle attachments are often used for more intensive mixing tasks like heavy batters or frosting. Their shape creates a folding action that mixes ingredients smoothly and consistently.

It’s crucial to ensure your mixer either comes with these attachments or that they’re available for purchase separately. By choosing a mixer that offers versatility through these various attachments, you can cater to a wide range of mixing tasks and recipe demands.

Summary: Key Points to Remember

In conclusion, when selecting a planetary mixer for your commercial kitchen, keep the following essential factors in mind:

  1. Size: Choose a mixer capacity (countertop, medium-duty floor, or heavy-duty floor) that perfectly suits your kitchen’s daily mixing needs and available space.
  2. Speed Settings: Consider mixers with a range of speed settings (low, intermediate, and high) to accommodate different mixing tasks, from heavy dough to whipping cream.
  3. Power Options: Examine the wattage (light-duty, medium-duty, or heavy-duty) to match the mixer’s power with the required mixing capabilities.
  4. Mixer Construction: Opt for mixers with a robust, all-metal construction, well-built motor housing, bowl guard safety, and durable attachments to ensure long-lasting performance.
  5. Attachments: Look for mixers that come with or offer the purchase of essential attachments, such as a dough hook, flat beater, wire whisk, and paddle attachment to maximize versatility.

By considering these key aspects, you’ll be well-equipped to choose the perfect planetary mixer for your commercial kitchen, ensuring optimal productivity and efficiency.