Commercial Food Scales for Professional Catering
Choosing the Right Catering Scale

Why Weigh?

Consistency is important in every aspect of the food industry, but in the catering world it can mean the difference between retaining and losing satisfied clients. Home cooks may not think that a highly precise measurement for ingredients is a big deal, but catering professionals know just how crucial it is to creating a technically correct and consistent product. Using the right scale in the catering kitchen is a sure-fire way to maintain that consistency in recipe preparation and portioning.

Weighing scales can also increase economy in the catering kitchen. Caterers often find themselves scaling recipes normally meant for one portion up to dozens, hundreds or even thousands of portions. Using an accurate scale for recipe scaling diminishes the possibility of human error in this endeavor substantially. Imagine taking a recipe that calls for 1 3/4 C of flour and multiplying it by 37. While the resulting 64 3/4 C can easily be reached with some quick calculations, the likelihood of losing count somewhere along the way when adding those 64 3/4 cups into the mix is high. Additionally, extremely precise measuring techniques must be employed in that situation to avoid human error. In contrast, if that same cook took the same amount of flour but weighed it out to 248.5 grams instead of measuring its volume, they would simply need a large enough vessel in which to pour flour until the scale read 9194.5 grams to scale up the same recipe.

Choosing the Right Catering Scale

So, now that we all understand the importance of obtaining accurate weights in professional cooking, how do we choose the right digital kitchen scale for the job? Different sorts of catering operations have very different needs. For example, caterers who utilize ingredients that change the chemical compounds of food (such as sodium citrate or isomalt) would require a more precise scale than someone who utilizes whole vegetables. Scales with more precise readability are typically more expensive, so be sure to assess the types of ingredients you will be weighing before choosing your scale, but remember: no recipe can be too accurate!

Capacity is another obvious factor that changes drastically based on the type of events being catered. A chef preparing pizza dough for 400 people would likely need a scale of enormous capacity, while a chef preparing desserts for a party of 12 could utilize a scale of much lower capacity. Many commercial kitchens prefer to have a few food scales of varying capacities, such as one that can weigh 50 lbs of potatoes to 0.1 lb accuracy alongside a scale that maxes out at 2 lb capacity but with an accuracy of .1 grams. Speaking of grams, it is also important to consider whether your recipes are in English measurements, Metric measurements, or a mix of the both, and be sure to look for a scale that is capable of reading in the system you need!

Finally, commercial kitchens and mobile catering setups can be harsh, rugged environments for digital kitchen scales. It is highly important to consider a scale that can handle the environment in which it will be living and the work it will be performing! A scale that can be easily cleaned is crucial, as spills are inevitable in any kitchen. Look for a stainless-steel pan and a sealed keypad that can be wiped down. A scale that is not at least water resistant may not be the best fit for the kitchen. Some washdown scales can even be hosed off without damaging the internal mechanisms. Know your kitchen, too. If it is likely that the scale will be used on an uneven table, or a particularly warm or cool environment, be sure that it can operate accurately in such situations before you invest. Consider portability - will the scale be used in the same place every time, or moved around? Are there adequate outlets where the scale will be used, or should it have a chargeable battery?

Professionals recommend the following to suit some of their catering equipment needs:

The Ohaus Valor Series focus on precision weighing for cost control and ease of cleaning for safety. The Valor 3000 Xtreme Washdown Scale is a rugged, high performance and high precision portioning scale for many professional kitchen applications. It is compact, portable, versatile and easy to use. Both the top and bottom housings are made of T304 Stainless Steel. The washdown model is NEMA 4X/IP65 water resistant as well as USDA-AMS accepted, NSF certified and it will support a HACCP certified system. The wide adjustable feet ensure the scale does not slip during wet applications. The scale is easy to clean for important sanitation and hygiene. Use the percentage weighing mode for mixing ingredients, compounding and comparing weight of a sample as percentage of a reference weight, quick portioning and preparing multiple samples of the same size. The Valor 3000 can automatically compute Baker's percentages for faster food processing. It can also calculate specific gravity for materials testing and checking aeration of mixes. Accessories available include: Oversize Sandwich Platter, French Fry Platter, Ice Cream Platter and Carrying case. The Valor Xtreme Washdown Scale can be viewed at the link below:

Wireless Ingredient Scales from Detecto feature hands free tare to make food prep faster and more sanitary. The Detecto Rotating Platter Scale is essential for precision during food preparation.

The PIZZA and Portion Control Scales from TREE are Stainless Steel, NSF Certified and economical. Find all these Professional Catering Scales and more at Summit Measurement:

Kitchen and Food Service Scales available from Summit Measurement