Stand mixers are big, and they take up a lot of worktable or floor space in restaurant and bakery kitchens. But any food operation that prides itself on breads and pizza crust needs a stand mixer. They may have a lot of moving parts, including the bowl, paddle, and any attachments. Knowing how to maintain your commercial stand mixer will keep this workhorse running to carefully mix dough for your baked goods.
Use as Directed
Mixers are rated by their horsepower and their capacity. However, capacity isn’t simply a matter of the size of the bowl (usually measured in quarts). When dry ingredients mix with wet, the stiffness of the resulting dough makes a difference to the mixer’s actual capacity. Heavy pizza dough with a lower absorption rate than cake batters or pastry dough will make a mixer work much harder. Another factor to consider is expansion – once you add liquid ingredients to dry, the dough expands. Read the manual and refer to the capacity chart if provided.
Be sure to leave enough space in the bowl for thorough mixing without overworking the motor. Consistently mixing too much dough or mixing dough with a lower absorption rate than your mixer risks burning out the motor. If your mixer is making a lot of noise, you may have overloaded it, and in addition to risking the motor you could break the dough hook or whip wires.
Keep It Clean
Cleaning your mixer properly is critical to the quality of your products and to the operation of the mixer. Before you do any cleaning, even wiping down the exterior, unplug the mixer. Remove the guards, agitator, dough hook, or wire whisk, whichever attachments you were just using, and clean them in hot water using the manufacturer’s recommended soap or detergent. Your manual may instruct you to dilute the detergent to clean your machine.
Depending on the size of your machine (counter-top or floor model) you may be able to tilt the motor head back to get at the spaces under it – the shaft, attachment hub, and hub plates. Wipe down the exterior thoroughly, and use a small brush to remove debris from ventilation areas. Clean the cradle where the bowl rests. Small, countertop mixers can be laid on their sides to wipe the underside, whereas large mixers that stand on the floor may have mechanisms to raise the bowl, or raise the stand higher as it sits on the floor to get underneath for cleaning.
Some important tips to remember when cleaning your mixer include:
- Never use a power washer or a hose to clean your mixer. These could force water into parts of the mixer where it isn’t supposed to go, and damage the machine.
- Never use steel, wool, or other abrasives on any part of your mixer.
- NEVER use bleach or any bleach-containing or bleach-based cleaner on your mixer.
- Hand wash parts with mild soap and hot water, sanitize, and dry fully before you reassemble your mixer.
- Clean the agitators, safety, splash guards, and the bowl after each use. Wipe the exterior, cradle, and the inside of the hub daily.
It is essential to remove and clean the agitator after each use. Allowing material to build up on the agitator, the shaft, or the hub and hub guards can create a sticky, unsanitary mess, and make it tough to remove the agitator at all when necessary.
Lubricate With Food Grade Oil According To Manufacturer’s Instructions
Moving parts require proper lubrication. Your machine’s manual should provide details about how, where, and when to lubricate the mixer. Insufficient lubrication can cause the safety devices to jam, the mixing bowl to stutter or stop, and make it difficult to attach and detach the agitator.
Follow Recommended Maintenance and Record Maintenance History
Your mixer may have gears, belts, and handles or switches that require lubrication, maintenance, or replacement from time to time. Consult your manual concerning whether you can lubricate gears or replace belts on your own, or if you should call a maintenance technician. Always disconnect the mixer from its power source before performing any maintenance, especially internal maintenance. Improper maintenance of your machine may void any warranty attached to it, so it your best course of action is to call a qualified technician for maintenance for the motor, switches, and any other interior elements of the machine.
Keeping a good record of the maintenance history of your machine will help technicians and repair specialists understand how recently the machine was serviced and if the history indicates any mechanical issues that should be addressed. If parts are wearing out too soon, or if the machine requires frequent maintenance, it could indicate a defect that the manufacturer should address. Frequent service calls may also indicate that the machine is working too hard, has been overloaded frequently, or has been cleaned improperly.
Don’t Neglect the Small Things
In a busy bakery or pizzeria, the flour can fly, and little bits of dough can be flung around, landing on the smaller, less conspicuous parts of your mixer. Be sure to address all the smaller parts, knobs, levers, and handles. Use a soft brush to coax crumbs out of ventilation slots. Even with splash and rear guards, batter can escape and land on the exterior parts of the mixer, the bowl cradle, and on knobs and switches. Although it takes time, inspecting the machine after each use for bits of dough, flecks of flour, or drips of batter that went astray and cleaning those up will help prolong the useful life of the machine. It also helps prevent dirty build-up, as dough and batter are sticky and attract other soils like grease and oil, even dust, if left to fester or dry on machine surfaces.
A spiral mixer with both a bowl and an agitator that move can create a big mess if overloaded or improperly maintained. It can grind to a halt if it hasn’t been appropriately lubricated, or begin to stick or stall if it hasn’t been kept scrupulously clean. Unclean, improperly maintained spiral and planetary mixers can produce discolored, unhealthful mixtures. That’s why it is so important to maintain your commercial stand mixer in excellent condition, clean it, keep it lubricated with food-grade oil or grease, and keep it sanitized and stored appropriately to keep it from gathering dust or harboring debris.