One of the top questions Cambro gets asked by our customers is “How long will this hot box keep my food safe for?” Our insulated transport units are guaranteed to keep food at safe hot or cold temperatures for at least 4 hours, but there are many different factors that can affect the temperature of your food during holding:
- The Density of the Product: Lasagna will stay hot longer than pizza or chicken nuggets, for example, because it’s more dense.
- The Temperature of the Food: Our insulated transport units are designed to maintain the temperature of food, rather than increasing its temperature. The hotter the food is when it’s loaded into your hot box, the longer it will stay hot.
- How Much Food is in Your Hot Box: The fuller your hot box is, the better it will retain heat. When your compartment is half empty, it will retain heat for a shorter amount of time.
- Frequency of Opening the Door: When you open the door or lid, your unit loses temperature. The less you open it, the more heat will stay inside.
- Ambient Temperature: Whether you’re in a warm or cold climate will affect holding time.
In addition to these variables, we have some tips that can ensure your hot boxes will perform to the maximum of their abilities.
Tips to Prepare Your Transporter Before Loading with Food
For Hot Holding, always pre-heat your units one of the following ways:
- Hot Pan of Water
- Slide a pan of hot water into the bottom rails of your hot box and close door for 20 minutes.
- Remove pan, load with hot food and close door immediately.
- Camwarmers will extend the hot holding time of your food beyond 4 hours.
- Heat 2 Camwarmers in a 350°F oven for 45 minutes and slide them into the bottom rail of your unit.
- DO NOT put the Camwarmers directly on the bottom of your unit.
- Close the door for 20 minutes. When you’re ready, load with hot food and close the door immediately.
- Ideal Method: Use Both
- First, use a pan of hot water to pre-heat your hot box.
- Remove pan and insert heated Camwarmers onto bottom rail.
- Load with hot food.
For Cold Holding, always pre-chill your units one of the following ways:
- Pan of Cold Water
- Slide an ice-cold pan of water onto the bottom rails of your unit and close door for 20 minutes.
- Remove pan, load with cold food and close the door immediately.
- Place the entire carrier in your walk-in or freezer with the door open for as long as possible, preferably overnight.
- Freeze a Camchiller overnight and slide onto the top rail of your unit. Close door for 20 minutes. Load with cold food. Close door promptly.
- Ideal Method
- Use a pan of cold water or put your unit into the freezer before adding a Camchiller and cold food.
Following these simple steps to prep your insulated transport units before loading with hot to cold food to guaranteed that they will hold the ideal temperature for the longest time possible. The result is a decreased chance of foodborne illness and food that is kept fresh and ready for service.