What’s the Difference Between a Continuous and a Batch Freezer?

When most people think of a freezer, they think of an appliance that keeps things cold. They think of something that preserves and keeps food from spoiling until it’s time to be cooked and consumed. Continuous and batch freezers also accomplish this task, but unlike conventional freezers that are combined with your refrigerator or stored in your basement, these freezers also carry out the important task of creating food as well. Specifically, they work to produce frozen treats, like ice cream, gelato and even sorbet.

That’s the big difference that separates continuous and batch freezers from conventional freezers that often exist in household and commercial restaurant environments, but don’t think that the two aforementioned types of production freezers are the same, other than the fact that they both serve an important function for commercial ice cream producers. Other than sharing the capability to produce ice cream and other frozen treats, there are a lot of factors that separate the two types of freezers, from how they go about producing the ice cream to various other important features. Here’s a closer look:

Continuous Freezer

Fitting to the name, a continuous freezer is one that produces ice cream without interruption. This differs from the batch freezer type, which only produces the delicacy in pre-determined amounts. Because of this, continuous freezers are ideal for entities that are in the business of producing large quantities of ice cream. Unlike the batch freezer, continuous freezers don’t specialize in making short runs of various different types of ice cream flavors. Many continuous freezers, for instance, can create endless batches in a single run, so long as mixture is added to the machine.

Specifically, continuous freezers are automated pieces of heavy equipment that are capable of producing either water-based or milk-based ice cream by adding air to the process. Air is added to the process via a pump while it is being beaten and frozen, making it feasible to attain aeration levels of well over 100 percent.

Continuous freezers are simple to operate, being that you can essentially program the machine and not have to bother with it until its run is done, and also fairly easy to move around the facility floor. They are typically fabricated from stainless steel, which adds to their durability.

Bottom line: Continuous freezers are designed for the large producers of ice cream who supply the product to stores and other locations. The uninterrupted nature of how the machine works makes large-scale production of these frozen treats easy to achieve solid profitability.

Batch Freezer

Unlike a continuous freezer, batch freezers are better suited for short runs of ice cream, as these types of freezers work to only produce pre-determined amounts of a particular type of frozen delicacy. While the batches can be programmed to vary in size, generally speaking, they aren’t close to the same production scale as you’d get from a continuous freezer. That doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t serve a purpose, but batch freezers aren’t the ideal product for large scale producers of ice cream and are instead better intended for the small gourmet shops and stores that wish to make their own product.

Specifically, many batch freezers are a step up from a household ice cream maker, with the capacity to make anywhere from 5-6 gallons of the treat at a time. Again, that’s a far cry from the endless gallons of a continuous freezer, but then again batch freezers are intended for a different environment.

Think of a batch freezer kind of like how you think of a washing machine – batch freezers somewhat mirror washers in appearance, and also work in a similar manner to such appliances. Batch freezers freeze the ice cream from the outside in, as the mixture is mixed and stirred by a rotating blade once inside the batch freezer chamber. Cold coils that are integrated into the batch freezer’s casing allow for the freezing of the ice cream. After the ice cream is processed in the chamber for a period of time, it can be extruded into a container. However, it’s worth noting that the product that is processed inside of the batch freezer usually isn’t the final product ice cream – normally what’s extruded from the freezer after processing must be stored in a blast freezer so that it can adequately solidify. Following this solidification, the ice cream can then be served. Although there is some debate about quality, it’s thought that most ice cream produced via this process is of higher quality than what is produced via the continuous freezer method.

One neat thing to note about batch freezers is that they allow for a certain level of experimentation when it comes to creating new flavors and new types of frozen desserts. This can allow ice cream parlors to get creative with their offerings, and there’s minimal risk of falling short on a particular new flavor or delicacy, being that batch freezers only produce limited quantities. It’s also worth mentioning that batch freezers are typically less expensive than continuous freezers.

Bottom line: To review, batch freezers are the ideal choice of ice cream-production equipment for ice cream parlors and shops. They can also be used by larger ice cream producers, but are really only applicable for very high-level flavors of ice cream that consumers will pay more for to ensure companies maintain profitable margins.

As you can see, there are quite a bit differences between batch and continuous freezers. But aside from the products that they’re intended to create, there’s one other thing that these two types of freezers have in common with each other – their expense. Yes, while continuous freezers are generally more expensive than batch freezers, neither is a drop in the bucket when it comes to upfront cost. But they’re also crucial equipment that ice cream producers and ice cream parlors need to have – and need to have operating – in order to stay in business. But if a new piece of equipment is necessary and isn’t a part of the current upgrade plan, the high cost of such equipment can certainly put businesses in a bind. That’s where buying a used continuous or batch freezer can come in handy, especially when you do so from a credible resource like Bid on Equipment. By buying used, companies can get a previously owned piece for a cheaper price than they can brand new – and without sacrificing performance. For many businesses, this can be a big money saver.

For more information on the difference between continuous versus batch freezers, and to browse Bid on Equipment’s selection of each, contact us today.

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