Tunnel ovens are innovative and extremely functional professional machines, designed to offer high performance in the catering world. Their peculiar characteristic is given by the tunnel and its conveyor belt, which allows to perform quality cooking for a variety of foods such as pizzas, focaccia, piadas, croutons, bruschetta, meat, pasta and even vegetables. All this without having to use classic cooking utensils. Also, look for best commercial conveyor pizza oven.
Thanks to their simplicity, they can also be used by non-specialized personnel in complete safety: the outside temperature is always kept low and the operator is only required to set the cooking program (time and temperature of sky and stalls) and to place the food to be cooked on the belt. The quality of the final cooking remains high and can easily compete with other types of ovens.
The tunnel oven can be powered by electricity or gas, but the operation is similar in that the heat is generated (thanks to the heating elements or by combustion, respectively) from above and below, thus ensuring optimal cooking. In this type of oven the speed of the same belt can also be adjusted, offering an additional element of practicality and customization in the cooking of a pizza or other food.
Tunnel ovens are mainly chosen for their high productivity and programmability, elements that are well linked to an intense and easily usable use.
Tunnel ovens: gas or electric, here is how they differ
A first distinction to be made with regard to tunnel ovens concerns the heat source: gas or electric, combustion or heating elements. In the first case, the heat is conveyed into the chamber without differences between the ceiling and the stalls, while in the second case, versatility is the master as it is possible to adjust the temperatures of the two hobs by further customising the type of cooking. Obviously, this aspect does not automatically give the patent of superiority to the electric models: for some preparations, one type of production is more recommended than the other, and vice versa.
Also for the tunnel there is therefore “the eternal contrast” between gas and electric, each with its own merits and defects. In reality it is wrong to put the two types in contrast, because the choice for a restaurant, an oven or a pizzeria should always be made according to one’s own specific cooking needs: fundamental criteria that are linked to the cuisine offered and also to the structural needs of the restaurant, for which one or the other type of heat production may be convenient.
In both cases we are talking about models that are generally versatile and easy to use (as well as safe thanks to the management of external temperature), capable of providing a different type of cooking but always of quality that may involve pizzas, croutons or focaccia, first and second courses, side dishes and other foods, a wide range of dishes.
Whether they are gas or electric, tunnel ovens are obviously characterized by the conveyor belt, which is also adjustable in speed together with the internal temperature (in the electric of the ceiling and the stalls) and the cooking time. Three possibilities of regulation that allow you to cook almost any kind of food available in a restaurant.
How to cook in a professional tunnel oven
As specified above, cooking in professional tunnel ovens changes substantially depending on how the heat is produced. The quality remains high in both cases (as long as the raw materials are good and the dish artfully created by skilled hands), but there is still a certain difference in the final yield that could lead you to opt for one model rather than another when looking for a machine for your restaurant, pizzeria, etc., regardless of the type of food cooked.
The versatility of these ovens remains unchanged despite the different heat source: thanks to the exceptional thermal insulation the external temperature of the oven remains about 30°C, while the conveyor belt makes it much easier to use. Everything is automated and adjustable, in electric ovens more than gas thanks to the possibility of managing the sky and the stalls in a different way.
According to the different needs of the room, it is not only possible to decide whether the tunnel system is preferable to gas or electric, but also the type of raft, which is generally available in refractory or copper-plated steel mesh. The refractory conveyor belt, for example, helps to make cooking more homogeneous, improving the distribution and maintenance of heat, and is an ideal solution for restaurants, ovens and pizzerias.
All these characteristic aspects of tunnel ovens are fundamental to guarantee the quality (and versatility) of cooking: the important thing is to set the necessary parameters according to what you want to cook, without expecting miracles in case of mediocre raw materials or wrong adjustments. Perfect cooking takes place thanks to a mixture of essential factors, in which the oven represents the completion of the work: you choose the (good) ingredients, they are “assembled” in the right way and then they are cooked according to the type of dish you want to offer.
Static or ventilated: how the management changes in tunnel ovens
Another useful combination to evaluate how perfect the cooking can be depends on the distinction between static and ventilated. As in other areas, the distinction always derives from the needs of the restaurant and from what the menu provides.
In general in a ventilated tunnel oven the food is cooked mainly by convection through jets of hot air, while the belt does its job by transporting from start to finish. In a static tunnel oven, on the other hand, cooking takes place mainly by conduction (thanks to contact with the refractory top, if any, or the baking tray in the case of a wire mesh belt) and radiation. Let’s see how the cooking changes and which foods are more suitable for this difference.
Static tunnel oven: static cooking in a tunnel oven (but the same goes for a classic machine) is faster and more delicate. For this reason it is particularly suitable for all doughs containing yeast and all those foods that should be dry and well cooked: therefore pizza, bread, focaccia, cakes, sponge cake and puff pastry.
Ventilated tunnel oven: the ventilated cooking by convention is activated by a fan that moves the hot air and is able to offer a uniform result with discreet timing. The dishes are soft on the inside, while the outside always forms a crust.
What advantages does tunnel cooking offer in the search for perfect cooking?
The tunnel oven ultimately adds a factor that traditional ovens (of all types and feeds) do not bring: a considerable possibility to regulate cooking thanks to the internal temperature, time and above all the belt. Perfect cooking exists, you just need to know how to use the tools available.
On the basis of the characteristics offered by tunnel ovens (gas or electric, it doesn’t matter) the advantages that the adoption of such machinery offers in any kind of restaurant, from pizzerias to traditional restaurants to fast food, when you are looking for a cooking close to perfection, become clear:
The cooking time is quick and homogeneous thanks to the high capacity to insulate the food thermally.
It is easy and safe to use, as well as practical from a technological point of view (therefore also suitable for less experienced operators).
It allows multiple adjustments, from the internal temperature to the time to finish with the belt speed (in case of static electric oven also for ceiling and stalls).
Heat dispersion is kept to a minimum and the temperature of the outer shell is always low, ideal for the safety of those who handle the oven.