Warm weather brings out a change in people’s eating habits. One habit that is a big hit among kids and adults is frozen drinks. You'll find the drinks of a granita machine at concession stands, convenience stores and many bars or restaurants that sell alcoholic drinks.
This equipment can go by many names, including frozen daiquiri machine, slush machine, frozen slushy maker or alcoholic slushie machine.
What is a Granita Machine?
A granita is what many people call an "Italian ice.” Historians have actually traced these drinks back to the ancient Greeks and Romans that would use ice and snow to chill their drinks. The main difference between the drinks from a frozen drink machine is that the ice is very granular and filled with texture.
In today’s industry, people refer to these machines as “granitas” and they often come in a bowl or tank design.
How do Granita Machines Work?
The best granita machine will have a space for the granita machine mix, which is usually placed into the bowl. Double and triple bowl models are available, as we’ve listed above, which can hold gallons of drink mix perfect for a restaurant or bar.
An auger will move back and forth through the granita frozen drink machine to keep the drink in liquid form but still near-frozen levels.
While this is occurring, the compressor works to remove all hot air from the machine to keep the beverage nice and cold.
The nozzles and spigots will allow you to properly dispense the cold granita into a glass. Of course, there’s also a mix that can be added, depending on what type of drink you’re serving. There are alcoholic and nonalcoholic varieties along with vast sugar ranges for ices, such as 13% to 17%, although somewhere in the middle is best.
If making alcoholic drinks, you’ll often want to reduce the water by 1/4 and add in alcohol, which will prevent the liquid from freezing.
Maintaining a Granita Machine
A commercial frozen drink machine is built to withstand the rigors of a commercial setting and immense use. But if you want your machine to last a long time, you need to know how to properly keep and maintain your equipment.
A few of the most important tips when trying to keep your machine running in tip top shape are:
- Auger. The auger is one of the most important components of a drink mixer machine. If you want your drink to remain cold but not frozen, you’ll want to be sure that the auger is running well and maintained.
- Compressor. The compressor should be periodically checked and cleaned of dust and debris to promote adequate airflow.
- Bowl. You’ll want to empty and clean the bowl, which will require you to use a sanitizer solution and to run the machine. Remove any components in your manual at this time and wash the evaporator cylinder with a soft brush.
- Nozzles. The nozzle and spigots of the machine are filled with gaskets and handles. Be sure to adjust these components properly and to clean them as necessary.
USDA and FDA requirements require that you use a sanitizing solution that is certified for use. You’ll want to perform sanitization after cleaning the machine but before adding in any mix. You're required to perform all of the sanitization on the day of usage, as doing it the night before will not suffice.
Steps for doing this may vary from one machine to another but will typically include:
- Mixing sanitizer with warm water
- Using a chlorine strip to ensure the solution is 100 ppm or higher
- Pouring solution into the bowls
- Wiping solution onto all parts using a recommended brush
- Installing the cover
- Operating the machine for 5 minutes using the cold drink setting
- Placing the container under a spigot and opening it to drain the solution
- Testing the solution to ensure it is still 110 ppm or higher
Proper sanitization is important to keep your drink mixer machine running in accordance with federal sanitary guidelines.
Cleaning May Vary From State to State
You must consult with your local state guidelines on how to properly clean your machine. While you may think a simple wiping or cleaning with sanitizer is enough, you need to meet all local codes and regulations.
What does this mean?
You may have to perform what is known as a three-sink or four-sink cleaning process. The two include:
- Three-sink: wash, rinse, sanitize and dry.
- Four-sink: pre-wash, wash, rinse, sanitize and dry.
Components, unless otherwise noted, should not be placed in the dishwasher. Handwashing is often less wearing on the unit and will allow you to maintain cleaning to the highest standards. Abrasive materials should not be used during the cleaning process, and be careful when using water around any of the electrical components.
Routine maintenance for a commercial daiquiri machine should be performed in accordance with the instructions provided by the manufacturer. The maintenance will often be broken down into three main parts:
- Daily. Your daily maintenance should include inspecting the unit for leaks. The most common area where leaks occur is around the gaskets. Replace the gaskets as needed.
- Monthly. Locate the condenser filter at the back of the unit and remove any dust.
- Annually. Use a soft cloth to remove dust and debris from the louvers and other areas of the unit.
Of course, if the unit isn’t operating properly, you’ll want to contact customer support or the maintenance company that works on the machine to fix the problem. If you notice any pertinent issues with your granita machine, be sure to stop usage until repairs are made.
Small malfunctions can cause repairs to be massive if the unit is damaged further.
Service and repair information is often provided in the instruction manual that came with your unit. It's important to work with an authorized service and repair provider to ensure that you don’t void the warranty.