How Should Meat be Stored and Prepared In a Commercial Kitchen?


How Should Meat be Stored and Prepared in a commercial kitchen?

The meat preparation area in a commercial kitchen must be planned in advance and the operations required to prepare the meat and poultry must be evaluated.

Several assumptions can be made: that the foodservice buys and cuts and prepares only poultry, or that the meat is only partially prepared or that it is delivered in carcasses and has to be cut in the same establishment. The installation of the area will depend on the planned work.

In any case, a non-hand operated sink must always be incorporated in the room. If the food service department buys the prepared and cut meat, it only needs a handling menu before cooking and therefore this area can be integrated in the kitchen.

In this case, it will be sufficient to install a double sink with a draining board large enough to allow the birds to be cleaned, as well as a work table or a suitable surface with a polyurethane block and a place to store the knives.

Types of cold storage in a commercial kitchen

Cold and frozen storage. Cold storage can be classified into two main groups:

a) Cold Storage (Cold Rooms). These are cold rooms that operate at temperatures to preserve the appearance and prolong the life of stored foods when it comes to putrescible foods. The Cooling is also used to preserve prepared foods and drinks before they’re served.

b) Frozen storage (Frozen Rooms). They are used for storing frozen food for long periods of time.

For a very small kitchen, a refrigerator can be suitable for all kinds of applications, including the preservation of meat, dairy products, fruits and vegetables, etc. and the cooling of prepared foods while waiting for to be served.

In large establishments, it is often practical and convenient to provide cooling means to different areas for different uses. Large cold rooms are often divided into areas
for different classes of food in order to provide the required conditions and the necessary equipment for storage:

Meat and poultry. Suspension rails and special grids arranged for the case. With direct access to the meat section of the preparation area.

Fish. Special cabins with deep metal boxes where the fresh and wet fish is kept in a bed of chunky ice. Drains must be provided for the outlet of melt water from the ice.

Other putrescible foods. Dairy products, eggs, fats, etc. with a tendency to be altered by strong-smelling foods (fruits,
species, vegetables).

Fruits and Vegetables. The storage for fruits and vegetables must be located near the entrance of goods so that the supplies received can be picked up directly at the warehouse without having to go through other areas.

Frozen foods: Isolated freezing chambers, To minimize temperature fluctuations, the freezing section has a built-in cold room that works at an intermediate cooling temperature and serves as an airlock where food is pre-cooled before freezing and where it is defrosted before use.

Refrigerators and freezers that are located in or next to preparation areas serve to meet daily needs for easily broken-down foods or for cooling prepared foods before serving.

There are 3 main types of refrigerated storage in a commercial kitchen:

a) Individual refrigerators. They consist of an insulated cabin with a single-body built-in refrigerating equipment; the two main types due to their dimensions are

Refrigerated cabins (reach-in): accessible from the inside without entering them and which are purchased fully assembled.

Refrigerated cabins (walk-in): walk-in cabs assembled on-site from prefabricated elements.

b) Cold rooms. These are obtained from large capacities by building a room on-site that corresponds to the required needs. The costs per mt² are higher than those of a mobile refrigerator, but the equipment occupies less space and easier placement.

c) Miscellaneous refrigeration equipment. Equipment built for various refrigeration applications: includes ice cream making and frozen food preservation, ice-making machines, bottle coolers, and numerous counters and boxes with display cases.

For the location of the cold rooms there are 3 considerations:
access to the cold rooms from the goods entrance and preparation areas should include the convenience of an airlock at the entrance in order to reduce temperature fluctuation.

temperature of environments and relative positions of heat-producing equipment (cooking and other) that may affect the performance of the facility.

To reduce the cooling load, cold rooms should, whenever possible, be located on the north or northeast side of the building.

problems arising from the equipment are, for example, noise, heat, and the space occupied by the compressor unit. It may be advantageous to locate the condenser outside the building for better cooling.

Because of the heat release, this equipment must not be placed in the dry storage area

Cold rooms are generally square in shape in order to obtain the maximum surface area for the premises and accesses. The height is limited to about 2.10 mt and the shelves and suspension accessories are arranged to make the most of the space.

The walls, floor, ceilings, and doors have than be well insulated in order to minimize heat input.

The insulation is obtained in most cases, by polystyrene in sheets of 0.10 mt thick. The interior surfaces must be impermeable to condensation and humidity and easy to clean.

The floor of cold rooms, in order to resist traffic, usually has a ceramic or cement floor finish and, to facilitate drainage, the floor surface must slope towards an exit hole protected against the entry of odors.

The doors of all the refrigerated and congealed rooms have to close with air-tight devices to prevent the entry of air and condensations inside, and is usually coated with enameled steel or cement sheets, and they have to be able to be opened from the outside and from the inside.

All interior fittings, shelves, and gratings must be removable, lightweight, and easy to take out for cleaning. For the contact with food, the interior accessories have to be made of a non-absorbent material, such as stainless steel

The lighting must be fitted with properly insulated fittings and protected against moisture.

How do you store food in a commercial refrigerator?

Keeping meat on low shelves makes it easier to clean up if there are spills, and more importantly, avoids cross-contamination, which can be very dangerous.

In fact, if meat juices or marinade fall on any other food it would have to be thrown away or it could spread bacteria.

Therefore, storing raw meats only on the lower shelves will also avoid waste. Check out this infographic for other elements to consider as well.

Meat storage considerations

The physical, chemical, and microbial changes that occur in fresh meat are strictly a function of temperature and humidity.

Control of temperature and humidity is therefore currently the most important method of meat preservation for meeting the needs of the processes or retail trade of the world’s industrially developed countries and is increasingly being employed in urban areas, particularly by hotels, caterers and hospital institutions in developing countries.

For example, the increase in bacteria is halved with each drop in temperature of 10°C and practically stopped at the freezing point; that is, the meat will be kept at least twice as long at 0°C as meat with a similar level of contamination, but kept at 7°C; or it will be kept at least four times as long at 0°C as at 10°C.

It follows that where meat is kept by chilling, it must be chilled as quickly as possible after slaughter, regardless of its final destination (local consumption or dispatch to other locations).

At the same time, it is necessary to ensure that the carcass has reached rigor mortis before cooling to 10 °C or less so that there is no decrease in chilling.

The chilling temperature should also be maintained afterward until it is used, i.e. there should be an unbroken cold chain from the slaughterhouse to the consumer. The whole development of refrigeration has tended to achieve this.

The ideal storage temperature for fresh meat is around the freezing point of -1 °C (-3 °C for bacon, due to the presence of salt).

According to the International Institute of Refrigeration, the expected shelf life of the various types of meat kept at these temperatures is as follows:

Table: Duration of meat in storage

Type of meat Expectedshelf life at -1 °CRelative humidity per cent
COWUp to 3 weeks90
CALF1 – 3 weeks90
LAMB10 – 15 days90 – 95
PIG1 – 2 weeks90 – 95
edible offal7 days85 – 90

Under commercial conditions, meat temperatures are rarely kept between -1 °C and 0 °C, so actual storage periods are shorter than expected. The times would also be reduced if the relative humidity were higher than 90 percent

In practice, two main degrees of cooling are adopted, namely refrigeration and freezing. Cold storage between 3 °C and 7 °C is common, although meat is kept longer at 0 °C and frozen at much lower temperatures.

Usually around -12 °C to -18 °C (in modern cold stores, from -18 °C to -30 °C). Humidity is just as important as temperature and the control of both factors must be linked.

Meat preparation area in a commercial kitchen

Preparation area example

The meat, poultry and seafood preparation area receives the meats as they are sold and then prepares them according to cuts and specialties for the dishes to be prepared.

Nowadays, in the big kitchens, the meat is received almost the product is ready, so that it requires the least amount of work and preparation time for its preparation, in addition to having the benefit of reducing the storage space for it.

The distribution of the area of preparation of meats must follow the logical steps of the procedure for any meat.

This area is highly variable. In the following table, the figures represent only an approximate guide.

No. of daily dishes servedSurface area for the preparation of the various meats (m²)
Up to 100 4.60
“ 2007.40
“ 4009.30
“ 60011.20
“ 80012.10
“ 100013.00

In a commercial kitchen, the preparation area for meat, poultry and seafood must be located near the meat refrigerator and the cooking area.

In smaller kitchens, preparation areas are not defined and are often organized around the production area, to minimize distances traveled. In large kitchens, the various areas are specially designed and are usually divided into main dish area, vegetable area, and baking area, among others.

A cool environment is desirable, as well as good lighting, especially on work surfaces and on machines where sharp tools are used.

Preferably, the walls should be tiled, at least 1.80 mt high; the floor should be non-slip, durable, and non-attackable by grease or oils that may spill; it should have a slight slope that facilitates the evacuation of liquids.

The joints between the floor and the walls should be rounded to facilitate cleaning, which is often necessary.

To avoid the risk of contamination, there should be separate tables for each of the above-mentioned meats; if the area does not allow it, the preparation of the fish can be done on a portable table.

It is essential that there is always an exclusive work surface for the preparation of cold meats. The work surfaces are usually made of stainless steel, although marble is sometimes preferred for the preparation of the fish.

Synthetic materials are used currently for cutting boards as a replacement for wood.

In order to store a large number of knives and utensils, you should install Grid shelves. Meat trays and plates are usually to be stored on mobile shelves located under the work tables. It needs washers to wash the different meats, clean the equipment and the utensils.

The slicing machine is used for many types of meats and should be located near the cold meat area. A refrigerator should also be available to temporarily store meat in the process of preparation.