In my recent visit to the local pub I was indeed impressed by their ice machine churning out ice in rapid succession. Gone are the days of using ice trays, keeping them in the freezer for 24 hours and waiting for them to solidify ready for usage in cocktails and other beverages. These ice makers are ideal for a busy bar or pub that are in constant demand for drinks on a Friday or Saturday night. The summer periods also require there to be a consistent flow of ice, seeing that many would prefer to cool down with their favourite tipple and a few chunks of ice.
So how do ice makers work and are they exclusive to catering companies? Well the answer to the latter question is no, they are available for home use as well as in businesses. Therefore, it is a matter of knowing which one to select and purchase. It is always a good idea to do some research into the different kinds of ice makers available for home purchasing, because if it is a good quality ice maker you are looking for then you would need to know what constitutes a good quality ice making machine.
First thing to understand about an ice maker is that there are two different types, an ice-cuber and an ice flaker. These are both good for making cocktails, iced beverages or anything that may or may not require a large amount of ice. In some instances both the cuber and flaker can be used to produce a lot of flaked ice in drinks. Ice flakers however, are better suited for slush puppies or fancy cocktails.
The ice maker works on the same principle as making normal ice cubes, this is done by pouring water in the machine or the moulds then releasing the ice cubes within minutes into ice cube hoppers. The difference is of course, that you do not have to wait hours upon hours for them to solidify.
Some public establishments require the ice to have a certain look to it, such as producing very clear ice cubes or having them in a specific shape. The only way to produce a 'designer' ice cube such as this is to use an ice maker that sprays water upwards into specially shaped moulds and is then very swiftly frozen. The clear consistency is achieved because the upward motion of the water spraying forces all of the impurities in the water to drop before it is frozen in the moulded shape. The result is a stylish looking ice cube, which is both clear and tough which means they take longer to melt.
Now if you are not so fussed about the shape or the consistency of your ice cube, then perhaps owning the mechanism is a satisfactory achievement in itself. Most people will be impressed with the fact that they are easily able to make a short visit to a machine and acquire some quick cubes, as opposed to waiting a long time for the cubes to freeze over. Ice makers are generally judged by the amount of ice they can produce in a specific time period. For example producing up to 10kg of ice in an hour is worth roughly 3000 pounds - a machine like this is usually seen in large catering businesses. A home built machine is more likely to hold 2kg of ice and will cost roughly 200 pounds or less.
Deciding on what kind of ice maker you want will depend upon how much you will be using it. If you are only buying the machine for the summer period or for parties, then you are best suited to one that does not hold as much ice. These are not necessarily lower quality in the ice that they produce, but they do work a bit slowly and will not need as much maintenance as an industrial machine. They do however need to be kept clean in order to continue to work efficiently.
Anna Stenning has seen how ice makers are good for businesses and home use having recently bought one for herself.