Direct steam, electric or gas self-generating, standard height or low-profile, many sizes with many options available.
Kettles are available from 1 quart to 400 gallons capacity each. In school foodservice, 6 gallon is usually the smallest used and 40 gallon the largest. Kettles are used for all liquid products like soups, sauces and gravies. They are also used for browning meats for use in chili or tacos. They are available in stationary, non-tilting, or tilting either manually or electrically. When used with a steamer that has a pressure boiler, you can use the steamer’s boiler to power the kettle. However most operators prefer self-generating. This is due to the fact that if the steamer’s boiler were to require service, the kettles would not operate either. Steam kettles have great versatility and have a definite place in schools.
Most manufacturers kettles are similar. They are basically a double boiler. The differences come in the accessories that are either standard or optional. When a kettle is ordered, several features should be specified. They include a cover, which speeds up heat-up time and maintains heat with less energy input; hot & cold faucet and spout is necessary around any kettle; a 2″ tangent draw-off is the valve on the bottom of kettles larger than 20 gallons that is used to drain off product. Other options are available, but the above should ALWAYS be specified. Also, some kettles are taller than others. Short series kettles are typically 35″ off the ground, which is about 5″ less than standard. This is important if you have short staff, for ease of cleaning.
Size required, whether the unit is to be direct steam or self-generating, availability of water and drains. If self-contained, voltage and phase is required for electric and natural or propane is required for gas. The gas units also require 120 volt for the control circuits.
We are always concerned today about versatility of a piece of equipment, which means whether the unit can be used for various foods. The kettles have been replaced in many operations by the tilting skillet or fry pan. Today, many schools that automatically ordered a 40-gallon kettle with all new construction now order one or two small kettles, in the 6-12 gallon range and use the skillets for production of the larger quantity items. The smaller kettles are great for use on smaller batch items like sauces and gravies. There are many people that still prefer kettles for large batches of product. It is a choice for each system. Be sure you are aware of the options available, because they can make the operator’s job MUCH easier.