Oven airflow plays a crucial role in making your cooked or smoked product better.
The ability to control oven airflow has been tied to increased product consistency, more consistent product coloring, and improved product yields (meaning less weight loss). When you can control exactly where the oven breakpoint will occur, and create multiple breakpoints in the oven, you eliminate hot and cold spots on the rack and your product cooks more consistently.
How Airflow Cooks Your Product
The oven airflow in your smokehouse or dehydrator ultimately is what cooks your product. As the high velocity and low velocity air streams in the oven collide, they create the oven breakpoint — which, when formed correctly, has enough velocity to penetrate through the product on your rack before the air is drawn back to the return duct.
The velocity of the breakpoint air as it moves across product on the rack essentially wipes away a layer of cold air surrounding the product and replaces it with hot air. The hot air left behind is eventually transferred to the product, cooking it to the required temperature.
Making Oven Airflow Better
When looking to invest in an industrial smokehouse or dehydrator, look for these four features. When included in an oven, they make the oven airflow better — and ultimately cook your product more consistently.
Most industrial smokehouses come with a fan rated for that size cabinet, but is often not big enough to create the CFM (cubic feet per minute) of airflow needed to cook your product consistently no matter where it is on the rack.
A larger fan size — one rated for the next size up smokehouse — will create anywhere from 15% – 50% more gross CFM in your oven.
A greater CFM is important to consistently cooking product in your oven. CFM is the rate at which a certain volume of air moves in a certain period of time. In the case of a blower or fan, it indicates how much air it can move per minute. So for example, a 1,000 cfm fan can remove all of the air from a box that is 10ft x 10ft x 10ft in one minute.
The more airflow in your industrial smokehouse, the more consistently your product will cook.
In order to create a concise breakpoint (the airflow that moves across your product and cooks it), it is critical to guide the airflow without obstruction.
The high-velocity air in your oven leaves the slots or cones at the top of the oven, travels down the oven wall, across the floor, and up the opposite wall to meet the low velocity air stream and create the breakpoint.
When an obstruction of the airflow occurs, the high velocity air stream loses velocity, making the breakpoint loose — meaning it won’t occur in the exact spot you need it in order to cook your product.
Radius’ along the oven walls and floor allow the airflow coming out of the slots or cones to make a 90 degree turn without degrading the velocity. They keep the high velocity air to keep moving at the speed it needs to in order to create the breakpoint exactly where it is needed.
The floor radius’ are the most important aspect of creating a tight and concise breakpoint.
The design of the trucks used in your oven is critical to creating better oven airflow and, ultimately, helps produce a better cooked product.
As mentioned above, the high velocity air and low velocity air travel down the oven walls and collide on the sides to create the breakpoint. The breakpoint air moves across your product from the sides of the truck.
Keeping the breakpoint air flow unobstructed is key to cooking your product, meaning your truck should have as few obstructions as possible on the sides that face the oven walls. There should also be enough clearance along the bottom of the rack to keep the airflow moving across the oven floor.
The typical 3-wheel European designed truck found in most smokehouses and dehydrators obstructs the oven airflow and eliminates the ability to concisely control the breakpoint. Not only do these racks have obstructions along the sides of the truck, they also do not have enough clearance along the bottom to keep air moving under the truck. If anything is in the way of the airflow, the stream starts to break up and goes to the path of least resistance — which is the return duct above the trucks.
When this happens, the high velocity airflow deteriorates coming up the oven walls, the breakpoint is weaker and does not occur in the exact point you want it, and your product does not cook as well.
When purchasing a truck for your oven, make sure:
- Structure supports are on the front and back of the rack, not on the sides that face the oven walls
- There is at least a 12 inch clearance along the bottom of the truck
Airflow Control by Quadrant
The key to product consistency, product quality, greater product yields and coloring is to have every single piece of product receive the exact same amount of airflow.
In a typical smokehouse or dehydrator, this is near impossible to achieve. It’s why product near the bottom of the rack overcooks — loses yield, cooks darker, and in some cases, is not usable — while product in the upper middle (where the breakpoint air that cooks the product doesn’t reach as well) ends up cooked to the color and consistency desired.
When you are able to control the breakpoint and position the breakpoint where you want it in the oven, your product is able to receive close to the exact same amount of airflow. This is achieved when the oven is broken down into quadrants.
Think of these quadrants as zones — areas in which you can concentrate the airflow to create the breakpoint where you need it to cook your product, whether on the top, middle, or bottom of the rack.
You’ll want to find an oven that offers 15 of these quadrants or zones to get ultimate coverage of your product on the rack.
An added bonus: when you are able to control the airflow and breakpoint in the oven by quadrant, you essentially have a “horizontal” (air flows horizontally across rack shelves) and “vertical” (air flows vertically down hanging product) in one!
Benefiting Your Product
When the oven airflow gets better in your smokehouse or dehydrator, your product gets better.
Product consistency, color, and yields all increase when you have total control over the oven’s airflow — all resulting from a larger fan, floor radius’, special truck design, and airflow control by quadrant.
Even the oven’s capacity will increase. The more you control the oven’s airflow, the more product you can fit on your truck while still maintaining the high level of product consistency. It’s like having two ovens in one!
When these features are included in your industrial smokehouse, you can expect:
- Increased capacity by up to 30%
- Increased product yield by up to 6%
- Increased moisture consistency while eliminating yield variation
- Better color consistency
All That and More
We designed our line of Industrial Ovens with these four main features — and provide them as standard on every model.
We believe when you purchase an industrial smokehouse, dehydrator, or steam oven, you should get an oven that doesn’t just work, but works hard to improve your product, while saving you time and money.
You can learn more about our line of Industrial Ovens, and how these features truly benefit your product, by downloading our catalog below.