Our “Why Stuff Breaks” series, which has covered glassware and dinnerware, comes to a close with flatware. Flatware is different from the other two in the sense it doesn’t shatter, but it too has it’s own ways it can be ruined. There are many techniques foodservices unknowingly use that decrease the lifespan of flatware.
Flatware 15 Minute Rule
A foodservice’s biggest flatware mistake is letting is pre-soak for too long.
“You don’t need to pre-soak for more than 15 minutes in a mild pre-soak designed for that purpose,” said Mike Coggins, national accounts manager for Oneida Global Foodservice. “Anything longer and the food lifts off the body, breaks off into more pieces then re-attacks.”
He used the analogy of two tomato chunks on a fork. When those two tomato chunks sit for an extended period of time, they eventually break into 50 pieces then re-attack.
It’s strongly recommended food doesn’t ever dry on flatware either. If it does, it must be emulsified to soften it up, but just for 15 minutes. Always remember 15 minutes.
When it comes to cleaning flatware, or dinner and glassware for that matter, Coggins advised to never use bleach.
“It fries the surface,” he said. “And don’t bleach china to make it whiter.”
In terms of the ideal dishwashing machine to clean flatware with, Coggins said Oneida recommends going with a high temperature unit.
High temperature dishwashers clean with the heat of the water and require a lower concentration of chemicals. Low temperature machines do save some money because they don’t require a water booster, but there is money that will need to be spent on the chemicals.
“With the three (glassware, dinnerware and flatware), the mix of the hot water and minimal chemical use makes for better looking china for longer,” he said. “Over time, chemicals bomb all three and will dull them down and fog them up.”
Flatware should always dry standing up. When flatware is left on it’s side to dry, lipids, acids and chemicals are laying on each other which doesn’t make for a very good situation.
Always Have Enough
In the dinnerware portion of this series, we learned having enough of a serving item is extremely important.
When estimating the amount of flatware needed, remember to take into account the number of seats, turnover rate, specialty menu items, warewashing capacity, operation type (fine dining, family, cafeteria, etc.) and backup inventory requirements.
Based off these factors, these two steps help determine how much flatware to buy:
- Multiply the number of seats with the flatware number listed at the right
- Divide by 12
For more information on choosing the right flatware, visit Central’s flatware buying guide.