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Pies Shrinking in Food Display Warmer Problem

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

I own a pie company, and I recently set up a kiosk.  In the kiosk we have a food warmer that we use to display our product.  We are encountering a problem that I do not know how to fix.  When we set the temperature to 60 degrees celsius (the minimum needed to ensure food safety), the pies shrink considerably and look dried out after 4 to 6 hours.  I tried adding a very small dish of water, but it has not helped.  The pies still end up dried out.  We have two different types of pies in the warmer:  Dessert and Savory.

 

Is there anything that we can do to prevent the shrinkage and drying out?  I don't want to leave the warmer off because I am worried that bacteria could grow.

 

Here is the model warmer that we are using:

http://www.google.com/products/catalog?hl=en&biw=1366&bih=630&q=display+food+warmer&um=1&ie=UTF-8&tbm=shop&cid=15540241999626629914&sa=X&ei=8IxPTtf0OM-HmQXxsYjOBg&ved=0CE8Q8wIwAA

post #2 of 13

As long as the pies are baked, they should be kept at room temp in a display case, not a warmer. Have you noticed that when grocery stores display their pies, they are either behind glass or are in separate boxes or plastic clamshells? Pies should either be at room temp or refrigerated, NOT kept in a warmer. You will always get drying and shrinkage as long as you do keep them in the warmer, because you are essentially baking the pie in it all day. 

post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 

Thank you for the reply! 

 

I have a couple of follow-up questions.  If we hold the pies in a display case at room temperature, how long can we expect the pies to remain safe without the risk of spoiling?  How many hours can a pie remain at room temperature without going bad?

 

Lastly, would it be better to have the pies at room temperature or a display chiller?  If in a chiller, how long could they last and be safe for consumption?

post #4 of 13

Um, baked goods are generally not considered PHF (potentially hazardous foods) and most jurisdictions exempt then from being kept out of the danger zone.

 

Check with you local health inspector for the rules in your area.

 

Most fruit pies will last for a day or two with no problems as long as they are in a case of some type, they definitely do not need to be kept hot, IMHO.

Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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post #5 of 13

Don't forget, your local friendly health dept. may have suggestions and regulations regarding how long you keep the pies out and at what temperature. Also, check out your competition, see what pull dates they have on their pies and how they are storing them, this'll give you some idea of what they consider sale-able shelf life. (For THEIR pies, which may have preservatives).

 

Assuming your pies have no added preservatives, I'd say 4 days refrigerated, and 2-3 unrefrigerated. Just to be clear, we're talking 2 crust, fruit baked pies, right? Not stuff like chiffon pie, meringue pie or cream pies?

 

But personally? When I bake a pie at home, I leave it out at room temp for at least a week (if it lasts that long). 

 

I hope others chime in here, and add their perspective.

post #6 of 13

Braden. Re savory pies if they contain meat or chicken I would refridgerate after 3 hours at a cool temp. If the outside area is air conditioned even better but then in fridge.. As far as fruit pies, most contain an acid which will let them remain out at room temp (but Covered) they should lold at least 2 days. The savories can be held under a plastic dome dust cover. I would only set out what you think you will sell. Whenyou bake your fruit pies try adding a bit more lemon juice or citric acid .  Take a lot of good size pictures of the pies and display them also.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #7 of 13
Thread Starter 

Thank you for the advice everyone.

 

We have a combination of savory and sweet.  I turned off the food warmer and have been letting them sit inside (as a display).  The savory ones seem to last for a whole day (we microwave before serving).  The sweet ones last for several days.  I've been having my staff do taste tests to ensure quality control.  I appreciate the comments and advice. :)

post #8 of 13

Braden!  Kinetic Energy which micro wave ovens use to cook has a tendancy to dry out anything made wih dough or bread itself . I would suggest putting a small heatproof glass or bowl in the microwave filled with some water. This will add some humidity and stop the drying.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #9 of 13

<<Don't forget, your local friendly health dept. may have suggestions and regulations...>>

 

Good one! Our HD is not friendly. Nor are they informative. Or consistent. But I digress.

 

The rule of thumb I was taught when I was in culinary school is to make sure you temp your pies throughout the day to ensure they are not hitting the danger zone for longer than an hour, but that depends on the ingredients. Custards are tricky, fruit pies not so much because of the acidity. Savory or anything with meat or cheese can get you into trouble.

post #10 of 13
Thread Starter 

Thank you for the suggestions.  I have been leaving the warmer off, which has yielded much better results regarding quality.  I reduced the number of slices on display to three of each pie with the rest being stored in the freezer.  This way if we do have spoilage at the end of the day, its minimized.

 

chefedb:

I will have my employees add a bowl of water to the microwave to ensure that the pies do not get dried out.

 

blwilson2039:

I am not sure how to temp the pies without running into the problem I came across earlier, which is that they cook.  If you have any suggestions, I would be greatful.

post #11 of 13

Braden,

 

What temperature were you attempting to hold the pies at?

 

In California, the hot holding temperature is 135°F, with no food safety time limit, though food quality will eventually suffer.

Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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Chef,
Specialties: MasterCook/RecipeFox; Culinary logistics; Personal Chef; Small restaurant owner; Caterer
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post #12 of 13
Thread Starter 

PeteMcCracken:

 

140^F

post #13 of 13

Braden, I meant to take the temperature of the pie using an instant read thermometer at various times to make sure they're not in the danger zone, which is set by the county. It's 135 degrees here, changed from 140 two years ago.

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