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Tips to get the most out of your machine
Don't let that investment go to waste! Check out our tips below for a smoother operator and customer experience.
1. Don't let the hopper run empty. This sounds elementary, but it is surprising how many operators don't top up the hopper with soft serve mix promptly when it gets low. Many machines have a warning beep that let you know it is time to restock, but these can become background noise and get ignored. By letting the mix become too low or run out, you run the risk of damaging your machine. What little is left in the barrel can freeze up, jam the blades and in the worst case scenario blow up the machine gearbox. This can then become a costly exercise to put right, but is easy to avoid with a little care and attention in the first place.
2. Make sure the breathing tube is inserted and working correctly (for gravity fed machines). If this is not placed correctly air can't combine with the mix at the proper ratios, and the mix may freeze resulting in damage to your machine. Make this one of your checks when starting for the day, and when topping up the hopper.
3. Make sure your machine is calibrated correctly. Many machines have settings that can be adjusted to suit the soft serve or frozen yoghurt mix you are using, e.g. you can raise or lower the freezing temperature a degree or two to reduce iciness or increase firmness, or increase/decrease the air intake. If these settings are wrong you can end up with a sub-standard soft serve ice cream that melts too quickly, freezes up in the machine, or you simply go through too much mix and don't meet your cost calculations. Talk to your machine supplier about how you can achieve the best settings for the product you want to create.
4. Keep your machine clean. It goes without saying that food hygiene should be at the front and centre of your operations. Soft serve mix will happily keep at fridge temperatures of 4 degrees C or less for several days, but after this your machine will need emptying and cleaning thoroughly before the next batch. As with any other food type, bacteria can get a foot hold in crevices and in areas such as behind gaskets and seals where food residue lurks, so follow your machine manufacturer's recommendations on using food grade cleaning products that will sanitise these areas and prevent contamination from occurring. Once you know how, it is a relatively simple procedure to remove the blade and other parts from the barrel, scrub and air dry these, and put it all back together ready for the next use. You happily do the dishes and wash down other areas in your food business, so look upon this as a similar essential exercise.
5. Know your machine. Read the manual, then read it again. Get to know your machine, what it can and can't do, and how it operates. You have bought an expensive piece of machinery and it will serve you well if you understand it and use it properly. If you are renting, the same applies - don't assume it is only your supplier's problem, because you are the one who will pay in lost sales if your machine is not operational. A small amount of time invested now will pay dividends later in lower maintenance costs, and less down time. It will also make it easier for you to train your staff and trouble shoot without having to continually call out for maintenance.
6. Ask for help. Don't be afraid to ask for help from your machine supplier, maintenance person or from the manufacturer. The sooner a problem is dealt with, the quicker you can go back to doing what you do best - making your customers happy!