Steam jacketed kettles are most commonly found in large industrial food service kitchens. They come in various sizes, all of which are larger than a stockpot. Functioning like a double boiler, steam jacketed kettles consist of a large basin set inside a larger basin, with a buffer of steam between the two. That cushion of steam heats the food inside the kettle evenly, and is adjusted by operating the pressure, or PSI, control knob. If you use a steam jacket kettle, be aware that you need large specialty utensils to reach and stir food on the bottom.
Chili, bean, stew and pasta recipes all cook well in large quantities in a steam jacketed kettle. Simply cook each food as you would in smaller quantities, but take the time to ensure that each individual ingredient is properly prepared before you put it into the steam kettle. For example, recipes requiring the separate browning of large amounts of meat, such as chili or beef stew, will require extra time to cook. Once the food is thoroughly heated in the steam kettle, you can turn the PSI down, which effectively lowers the heat. That way, the food stays warm for service, but does not get scorched.
Soups are a natural candidate for steam jacketed kettle cooking. Because the flavor of most soups improves the longer they cook, steam jacketed kettles make cooking a large amount of delicious soup simple. For long-cooking recipes, such as bean soups, consider starting the recipe the night before it will be served, then cooking it at a low PSI setting overnight. The following day, you can adjust the PSI and flavorings as you see fit. Meanwhile, the flavors will have had the advantage of spending more time blending together.
Steam jacketed kettles can also be used for making large amounts of sauce, either for immediate service or for processing and canning. Gravies, wine sauces, cream sauces and tomato sauces are all appropriate for this type of cooking. Any sauce that needs to be made in large quantities can benefit from being cooked in a steam jacketed kettle.
Puddings, custards, chocolates, jams and jellies can also be made in steam-jacketed kettles. With egg-heavy dishes, such as custards, it is important to stir constantly, just as you would on your stovetop. If you simply want a custard to stay warm, lower the PSI before walking away. Be prepared for a little of the custard to form a skin and cling to the walls of the steam jacket kettle. Stir before use, but don't stir the crusty parts at the edge back into the custard, or you will end up with a grainy texture.
- "Steam Kettles In Food Processing: Fact Sheets For The Small Scale Food Entrepreneur"; The Northeast Center For Food Entrepreneurship At The New York State Food Venture Center, Cornell University; January, 2007
- "Recipes For Steam Jacketed Kettle"; Market Forge Industries, Inc.; August, 2006
- "The Professional Chef (Eighth Edition)"; Culinary Institute of America; 2006
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