Six Cool Ways To Enhance Your Restaurant With Dry Ice
Dry ice isn't just for special effects in the movies. More and more restaurants owners are discovering the many ways it can be used to prevent food from spoiling during emergencies and to draw in new customers. If you're not aware of the versatility of dry ice, here are six cool ways it can enhance your restaurant.
If you've never imagined using dry ice for cooking, it's definitely doable. Dry ice is so cold, it can sear seafood, making it safe for consumption. In fact, some catering companies take dry ice on the road with them, using it to cook seafood when guests place their order. This allows them to watch their meal being prepared, right there on the spot.
Serve Exotic "Smoky" Drinks
If you really want to give your customers an experience to remember, try placing a small chip of dry ice in a drink and watch what happens. The ice will sink to the bottom of the drink and immediately produce a little fizz and smoke, creating an exotic and spooky effect.
This is perfect for the Halloween season, and it can be used in fruit punch for kids or any kind of alcoholic beverage for adults. You can even use test tubes and beakers to create the whole "mad scientist" effect. And don't forget about adding colored liquor to take those special effects over the top.
Make sure to order food-grade dry ice chips and use tongs to avoid burning your skin.
Quick Freeze Your Produce
Fresh produce doesn't always freeze so well; it can lose its integrity, becoming soggy and wilted after thawing out. Dry ice is a great solution, and all you need is a small block of food-grade ice and a portable cooler.
Simply place your fresh veggies on top of the ice and close the lid. Freezing times can vary, but it doesn't usually take too long to get them where they need to be. You can check on them about every 15 minutes or so, and once they're frozen, place them in a permanent freezer. When you take them out to thaw, they should be much fresher than before.
Create a Culinary Scent
Many modern restaurants are jumping on the culinary-scent bandwagon, using dry ice to create a smoke-filled aroma for customers. All you need to do is place some dry ice in a glass then top with a scent of your choice, such as cinnamon or lemongrass. The scent-filled glass is often served along with the dish to enhance the eating experience.
Make Homemade Root Beer
Setting yourself apart from the competition by offering unique menu items is sure to help your restaurant stay busy. One way to do that is by offering homemade root beer. There are a number of different recipes freely available, but you'll need to start with figuring out how much you want to make per day.
Items and ingredients needed include root beer concentrate, plenty of cool water and sugar, food-grade dry ice pellets, and a large container with a vented lid for mixing the ingredients. The biggest learning curve involves keeping the container adequately ventilated once the dry ice is added. If the lid is too tight, carbon dioxide will build up and cause the container to explode. Too much ventilation, and you won't get the fizz effect that makes root beer so much fun to drink.
Scoop in some vanilla ice cream and you've got dessert for your customers, too.
Keep Food Cool/Frozen
If your refrigerator or freezer stops working, dry ice is a great temporary solution. You'll need anywhere from 50-100 pounds per day for a 12x12 fridge, and 150-250 pounds per day for the same size freezer. Half of the ice should be placed near the evaporator unit if the fans are still operating as they should, and the other half on high shelves directly above the food.
Since dry ice gives off carbon dioxide, it's important to leave the door open while you're in the fridge/freezer in order to allow for adequate ventilation. If possible, have someone standing outside the unit for added safety. For more information, contact a professional in your area or visit a website like http://www.unitedcityicecube.com.