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Gastronorm is a standardisation system that’s used for containers and trays in the food industry. It normalises the dimensions used, and is often used in product descriptions for ovens and other commercial cooking equipment. 

The origin of gastronorm standards

In the 60s a group of researchers from Switzerland met to decide on the dimensional standardisation for kitchen utensils. In the US, standard pan size was already 530 x 325 mm and it was decided this would be the new Gastronorm-Normal standard. Originally, it was intended only for use in Switzerland but other European countries also adopted it. Now, it’s the worldwide standard. 

What is the point of having a gastronorm standard?

With the gastronorm standard, kitchen utensils can be designed spatially efficiently, and helps establish industrial manufacturing standards for items that use them – such as ovens, dishes, fridges, dishwashers and storage. This means that even if you don’t purchase from the same brand, your equipment and utensils will be compatible. 

It also ensures that the pans are modular by design – so if you have a larger space it could be filled with 2 smaller pans taking half the space each. The pan sizes are all based on fractions, so you can combine containers to suit your needs. 

What are the gastronorm sizes?

The standard gastronorm size is 530 x 325 mm. Eight more sizes are derived from this measurement. Any product that’s made in the  EU that states it uses gastronorm size, must abide by one of the following dimensions: 

  • GN 1/1 – 530 x 325mm (Full GN)
  • GN 2/1 – 650 x 530mm (Double GN)
  • GN 2/4 – 530 x 162mm (Two-Quarters GN)
  • GN 2/3 – 354 x 325mm (Two-thirds GN)
  • GN 1/2 – 325 x 265mm (Half GN)
  • GN 1/3 – 325 x 176mm (One-third GN)
  • GN 1/4 – 265 x 162mm (Quarter GN)
  • GN 1/6 – 176 x 162mm (Sixth GN)
  • GN 1/9 – 108 x 176mm (Ninth GN)

The depth can vary and will determine the capacity of the container. 

Tray Materials

Stainless Steel Gastronorm Trays

Stainless steel trays are the most versatile, used for a variety of applications. Several advantages make them particularly suitable for oven cooking and deep chilling, including being robust, durable, and excellent heat conductors.

They can also be used for oven displays due to their polished surface and heat retention properties. The standardisation of gastronorm sizes mean that food can be taken straight from the oven to the buffet without changing pans. They can also be put straight in a commercial freezer or refrigerator. 

Polycarbonate Gastronorm Pans

Polycarbonate pans are normally used in food prep, chilling and cold buffet displays. They don’t conduct heat, so are best used for items such as salads, pudding and fruit. 

The pans can be microwaved and remain a stable temperature even when holding hot or cold food. They come with tightly fitting lids and are transparent, so are good at storing food in a fridge or freezer as you don’t need to open the cover to see what’s inside. 

Melamine Gastronorm Pans

Melamime is a lightweight but hard material, made from thermal setting plastic strengthened with resin. Melamine pans should be used to hold cold and chilled food, as they don’t fare well in any high temperature source. If exposed to a lot of heat, the tray will dry out and start to crack. 

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