There are a lot of things to consider when choosing an ice cube machine. You need to decide whether you want a certain type of ice or how quickly you need it made.
Some machines make a lot of ice at once, which is useful for parties and road trips. But others produce only a small amount each hour.
- Clear Cubes
As any bartender can tell you, crystal-clear ice is the mark of a well-made drink. Whether it’s a cocktail, beer or soda, clear cubes look beautiful in any glass and are easier to read through than cloudy ice. You don’t have to own a commercial establishment to produce perfect, clear ice; it can come from your home refrigerator with the right tools.
The key is directional freezing, which works like this: A silicone mold and foam insulation box insulate the sides of the ice except for the top, pushing air bubbles and impurities into unfrozen water underneath. This process, which mimics the way a frozen lake freezes, creates ice that is almost transparent.
The same technique can be used with standard ice cube trays to make clear ice at home. Another option is to boil the water before freezing, which drives out the dissolved gases that cause white or cloudy ice. Then use a clear ice cube mold to get the best results.
- Nugget Ice
Nugget ice (aka bullet, pebble, chunk, and Sonic ice) has a cult-like following among beverage enthusiasts. The tiny, chewy cubes are said to make cocktails taste better, thanks to their texture and “flavor-absorbing” properties.
A nugget ice machine uses an auger to compact ice flakes into soft, chewy, porous cubes that soak up the flavor of your drinks. The small size also makes them easy to build a drink right in the glass, which saves time and mess.
This kndko appliance produces up to 44 pounds of nugget ice per day, with a sleek stainless steel design and front control panel. It’s energy and water efficient, too, reducing your utility bills. Plus, it doesn’t require the same kind of maintenance as a traditional cube machine. This is a great option for restaurants, bars, and even homes that have a big appetite for the good stuff. Its high capacity means it can keep up with your busy schedule.
If you’re looking for a countertop ice machine with high output, consider the model from Hoshizaki. This ice maker produces small and large cubes and has an indicator light to notify you when it needs to be refilled. It also offers several specialist shapes such as spheres, heart and stars that can add an attractive twist to cocktails or serve as a unique alternative to standard cubes.
Water runs vertically over an evaporator that has a plate, grid or mould that determines the shape of the ice. The ice freezes in layers until the desired size is reached and then falls into a storage bin where it stays until it’s needed. Commercial ice machines often utilize moving parts to enhance quality and ensure hygienic results. It’s important to sanitize all removable components on your ice machine following manufacturer’s instructions to prevent contamination, mold and scale which can reduce capacity and lead to poor-quality ice. Aside from ensuring your equipment is properly sanitized, attention should be paid to ensuring the ventilation system is free of obstructions to optimise performance and efficiency.
Unlike freezer-style ice makers that drop cubes into a bin and require you to manually scoop them out, an ice machine dispenses ice directly from the front of the unit when you press the ice button. This allows you to serve cold, fresh-looking drinks with minimal effort and reduces the risk of contamination from outside sources.
These units also reduce labor costs by eliminating the need for manual ice tray filling and emptying, bagging ice, and maintaining a sufficient supply of ice throughout the day. Plus, many units use less water and electricity than other industrial ice machines, further cutting operating expenses.
Before selecting an ice machine, check the manufacturer’s recommended water and power requirements. Also, ensure your establishment has access to potable water and a suitable drain line. Avoid blocking the machine’s vents and fans with objects or dirt, and clean them regularly to maintain proper airflow and prevent overheating. Consider a high energy efficiency model to save money on electricity bills and reduce your carbon footprint.