Soft serve, shake and slush mixes are packaged in a variety of ways to preserve freshness until use. To ensure a quality finished product, proper mix handling is important. Soft serve and shake mix are generally packaged frozen, liquid or powdered.
- Check the expiration date to make sure that the mix has not exceeded it’s shelf life. Thaw the mix in a refrigerator until it is a complete liquid (about 72 hours).
- Do not thaw at room temperature, in warm water, or in a microwave. This may set the stage for bacterial growth.
- Do not introduce already frozen or semi-frozen product into a soft serve or shake machine’s mix pan. This may cause inconsistent operation or damage to the machine in the form of a freeze up.
- Do make sure the product is thawed and mixed completely, especially yogurt, before introduction to a clean sanitized machine.
Powdered mix should be mixed as per the label instructions, the day before the product is used. This allows the mix to absorb all water in the mixture, and chill to the proper mix temperature.
Introduction of a well mixed, 40 degree Fahrenheit product into the soft serve or shake machine will yield a rich, smooth consistent product.
Note: Poor mix handling is responsible for many service calls. Introduction of a warm or poorly handled mix can cause inefficient operation of the machine. This may generate unnecessary service calls on the machine.
Soft serve and shake products are formulated to absorb air upon being frozen. This introduction of air to a product (overrun) is not only important for taste, but for profit. See overrun for more information.
Check expiration date to ensure the mix has not exceeded its shelf life.
General Handling of Soft Serve Mix
All soft serve mix is delicate in how it is handled in a soft serve freezer. Furthermore, all dairy based products are highly perishable. In order to keep mixes in good condition, they should be stored in a refrigerator. The temperature should be maintained between 33-38 degrees Fahrenheit. The maximum temperature should never exceed 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and when mix is allowed to exceed 50 degrees Fahrenheit, it will spoil quickly. The problem is a bacteria called coliform or coli contained in the mix. As a side note, these bacteria may be caused by the introduction of human waste. This is why operators must wash their hands with antibacterial soap or sanitizing solution (separate from that used to clean the machine). In general the standard bacterial plate limit count is 50,000 per gram while the coli count usually is 10 per gram. For every hour above the 50 degrees temperature level, the bacterial level doubles.
Mix should be rotated properly so that the mix with the oldest shelf life is selected and used first. This way old mix is not introduced into the machine which can lead the operator to blame the machine for difficulty.
Concerning the cleaning and sanitizing of machines, follow the sanitizing procedures and policies outlined by the local health authorities, but if none are available, follow those outlined in section #10 of this manual. They are the same as in the operators manual. In addition, there is no substitute for cleanliness, and a machine that is cleaned daily can be expected to serve better product. Cleanliness should also be considered for any and all utensils used in connection with handling. Sanitize them too!
SaniServ equipment will operate with any of the mixes currently designed for a soft serve freezer; however, mixes behave differently from mix to mix, flavor to flavor, and dairy to dairy. That is, the ideal freezing temperatures and viscosity, as well as, the pull down time will vary somewhat. However, mixes are all alike in that as they freeze, they will take on air (overrun). The amount of air that each takes on is variable. Some of the controlling variables are as follows:
- Type and ingredients in the mix.
- Age and storage temperatures of the mix when frozen.
- Amount of re-run used in fresh mix.
- Condition of scraper blades.
- Condition of the refrigeration system.
- Ambient temperature around the machine.
- Temperature of the product (if too cold).
- Product demand out of the machine.
Under normal ambient temperatures, most mixes will take on 35% to 50% overrun. Overrun
is important for two reasons as follows:
- Physical Product Stability (to stand on a cone or in a cup). An operator who can sell two to three quarts per hour, and has followed the above information, can be expected to have a good operating machine with plenty of repeat business.
The problem comes from installations where a machine is either too large, or there is no business. Regardless of the brand name, ice cream makers are made to make and dispense product. The hardest thing to do is to make the freezer sit idle because of the delicate nature of soft serve products. They must be churned and refrigerated to maintain consistency, and the net result is that the product will begin to lose air. None of the mixes or flavors will lose it at exactly the same rate. In general products can be expected to live in the freezing cylinder as follows:
- Ice milk approximately 2-4 hours.
- Yogurt approximately 2 hours.
- Fruit base approximately 1 hour.
Another effective method of analyzing situations outlined above is by equating the production of the machine to a use factor:
- Number of gallons served daily compared to
- Number of hours store open multiplied by the minimum production capability, gallons per
Improve the situation above by using:
- Take out Program (hard pack).
Take Out Program
Packaging of products in pint or quart containers is a popular way to increase business. A storage freezer is required, preferably a glass door merchandiser.
Rerun is the process of drawing out finished product (into a sanitized container with a cover) for the purpose of allowing it to thaw for reuse. This mix can be placed into the machine the next day; however, only fresh mix should be loaded into the freezer cylinder. Place the rerun in a proportion of 50% fresh to 50% rerun. Some states outlaw this because if there is a bacteria problem, it self perpetuates by daily mixing and rerun. Therefore, if it is allowed, break the cycle once every two to three days. It is mandatory the cycle be broken every 7 days.
Novelties, when advertised properly, can increase business, and the operator is only limited to his/her imagination. Ice cream cookies, cakes and pies are very popular. In the event that a merchandising cabinet is not economical, there are fast food manufacturers who can duplicate your novelty for display purposes, and menu boards as well.
The three methods just mentioned have been around for a long time, and are well known in our industry. However, when a first time owner operator doesn’t know about the above, or doesn’t market his product correctly further difficulty can result.
First they will complain that the machine does not work properly. Naturally you would explain how to help them with the above recommendations. Then, after they have a freezer full of the products, they call you again, or they call you and thank you for your help.
Frozen Beverage Mix
Brix is the amount of dissolved sugar in percent by weight. Example: 10 lbs. of product with
a brix of 12.5 indicates that the product contains 1.25 lbs of dissolved sugar.
Sugar in a product acts as an antifreeze. It is the property, and the mixing action of the machine that allows a product to slush rather than freeze solid.
Accurate measurements of sugar in products is a must. Damage will occur to a frozen beverage machine due to low brix of sugar. Accurate measurements of sugar can be made with the use of a refractometer.
Measurements of the sugar level should always be taken in a liquid state. Dissolved sugar in a liquid will refract light in varied degrees, depending upon the amount of dissolved sugar. Note: The refractometer must be calibrated to zero with water prior to use.
A refractometer measures the light refraction which gives you an accurate measurement of sugar content.