What is a bain-marie?
A balneum Mariae, more commonly known today as a bain-marie, is a container filled with hot water. Believe it or not, it was originally used in alchemy. Alchemists used the apparatus to heat materials slowly and gently, supposedly to simulate conditions thought to exist deep underground where precious metals were formed. Invention of the bain marie, which translates as ‘Mary’s Bath’, is attributed to a third century alchemist known as Maria Prophetissima.
Whilst the development of bain maries has moved on considerably since the early days of chemical science, the basic idea behind it still stands. It is made up of three or four parts; a handle, an outer container that holds the water, a smaller vessel that fits inside the outer one and holds the substance to be heated or cooked, and a base below. The heat source can be found under the outer container. Once warmed, the water creates a barrier between the food and heat source, helping the food cook slowly and evenly and preventing it from burning. It is a vital piece of equipment in cooking delicate dishes such as custards, sauces and mousses, and it can also be used to keep food warm.
How is a bain-marie used in a professional kitchen?
In commercial kitchens, bain maries are used to hold food and keep it at a safe serving temperature for a period of time. Our bain maries come in many different size and pan combinations, contained in either a countertop unit or designed to use with a trolley. All can be used either wet or dry, and there are models that will hold cold food as well as hot.
Constructed in stainless steel, our bain maries could be an attractive addition to your serving area. They give you the chance to display your food in an enticing way, particularly if combined with additional catering equipment such as the Roband heat lamp. They’re a must-have for off-site catering, and they can also be used in the kitchen to store pre-cooked dishes or ingredients.
When food is left out for a period of time, even when it’s being kept warm, food safety is a high priority. Food poisoning is a serious health issue, and it can seriously damage the reputation of your business and of the food industry as a whole.
With bain maries, good temperature control is of paramount importance. Food must be heated to a minimum core temperature of 75° C using cooking equipment before being transferred to a pre-heated bain marie. Once in the bain-marie, it is vital to keep the temperature of the food high enough. If cooked foods fall to below 60° C, then the product has dropped into the danger zone, where bacteria can grow rapidly. Chilled food must be kept cold at 5° C or colder. Luckily, our bain maries allow you to monitor the temperature of the food with an in-built thermometer control and display.
Why you need a bain-marie
In any professional kitchen or catering operation, you have to be able to hold and serve hot food safely and cleanly. A bain-marie allows you to do just this, giving you time and space to concentrate on your food preparation and cooking.
Hot Food Served Safely and Cleanly on Bain-Marie