A Simple Guide to Understanding Combi Ovens

A Simple Guide to Understanding Combi Ovens

A combi oven is often thought of as a convenience item, allowing a user to utilize multiple cooking methods with one piece of equipment. While it is true that a combi oven provides versatility and space-saving benefits, there is tremendous value in its ability to help you perfect your recipes. And in order for one to enjoy enjoy the full range of benefits and functionality of a combi oven, one needs a proper understanding of humidity, heat transfer, and evaporation.

One of the keys to unlocking the full value of a combi oven is to understand the crucial aspect of humidity, a factor which is often forgotten in any form of cooking. Humidity affects heat transfer, and consequently how quickly your food cooks. To better understand this, think about a desert versus a tropical jungle. If both environments were equal in temperature, which one would feel hotter? The near 100% humidity in a jungle would make it feel much hotter and more oppressive. The moisture in the air is an effective conductor of heat, making hot weather feel that much warmer. This same principle applies to cooking as well - cooking in a moist environment is much quicker because of the efficiency of heat transfer from your equipment to the food. A real life example of this principle taking effect in the kitchen can be found in the fact that your larger batches of food cook more quickly than small batches. As counterintuitive as it may seem, the presence of additional moisture in larger batches of food actually helps with heat transfer. This might explain your double batch of burnt cookies!

Beef brisket Another example that is helpful for understanding how a combi oven can add value to your kitchen is delicious barbecue brisket. If you are a fan of barbecue, like myself, then you might have heard of something called the “stall.” The stall is the point in the cooking process where the temperature of the meat stops rising for an extended period of time. The time period where the stall occurs usually causes panic amongst inexperienced barbecuers. The science behind the stall pertains to evaporation and the lack of humidity. After cooking for several hours, the meat will release moisture that will then evaporate, cooling the meat much like sweat cools down your body on a hot day. And what is the solution to this problem? In the barbecue world, many employ what is called the “Texas Crutch” which involves wrapping the meat in foil or butcher paper. This process of wrapping is merely a simple means of controlling the humidity during the cooking process, limiting evaporation, maximizing heat transfer, and allowing you to power through the stall.

The beauty of a combi oven is in its ability to control not only temperature and time, but also humidity, which as we have learned, plays a large role in the cooking process. With the ability to fine tune humidity on a combi, you can perfect your roasts by balancing the ability to cook quickly with a moist heat, but also with dry heat which allows you to brown the food for better flavor. And with such control, all of your recipes can be produced much more efficiently and consistently.

The combi oven’s temperature, time, and humidity control helps provide great results for numerous other foods. For instance, bread with a great crust can be obtained by injecting the combi with an initial blast of stream. Not only can bread be baked in a combi oven, you can proof it as well by setting the combi oven at a low temperature, high humidity setting. Another product that can be cooked effectively in a combi oven is rice. At a high humidity setting, rice cooks evenly in the combi oven without the risk of burning. On flip side, low moisture, low temperature settings allow you to dehydrate foods.

With its ability to achieve results, and with such versatility, we believe that the combi oven is a must buy piece of equipment, which is why we offer many models from Convotherm and Vulcan. One model we would highlight is the Vulcan ABC7E-208 Electric Boilerless Combi Oven. It is easy to use, featuring only three knobs with each one controlling temperature, time, and humidity.

Vulcan ABC7E-208 Full Size Combi Oven

Bake, steam, roast, air-fry and more!

Check it out
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Feel free to contact us if you have questions or if you need further guidance in finding the combi oven for you!

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