Can anyone recommend a table I could use outdoors for food prep like chopping vegetables and rolling out dough? I haven’t seen anything at Walmart or Costco that I think will work. At present, I have to prep indoors because my outdoor table is too wobbly, a little low, and feels really flimsy if I start chopping for real. My deck is real wood and warps throughout the seasons depending on humidity and heat. Ideally:
I don’t know of anything that is height adjustable, but Regency makes a slew of quality stainless steel work tables in all kinds of sizes for not a lot of money.
Super sturdy, all SS construction, and adjustable feet (or casters).
I purchased a table at Ikea which the leg bottoms are adjustable. I put tablecloth on top and staple the tablecloth ends together so it stays put.
Assuming you are using a board when chopping and can either cover or move the table inside, I like these. Have had a couple of different sizes at different times. Some are light enough to move, I like the height and the legs can be adjusted. Might be something to consider.
If you already have a grill on the deck, you might take a piece of 1/2" plywood and put some strips of wood on the bottom to enable it to stay put while atop the grill. My little Weber kettle is pretty stable.
Right now I will be using with an outdoor stove. If I do get a weber, the two would be used in conjunction. Hmm… I know some relatives have old grills that broke down. Maybe we can repurpose those.
Do you think these would hold up fine if they get caught in a few thunderstorms during summer?
Edit: Family is concerned SS will be too hot to use.
My grill is SS, and it lives on the outdoor deck 365 days a year… no issues.
Not sure what you mean by being too hot to use.
What I mean is, in 95 degree weather, won’t a SS table be too hot to use? Versus the white “plastic” outdoor (admittedly flimsy) tables? Or is that not true? A wooden table might be cooler, especially when rolling out dough for roti/naan/pizza, but then I’m in trouble if we forget it outside for a few days and go somewhere for the weekend. (I already ruined an unfinished wooden countertop by keeping it in our shed.) I was hoping I could find a cooler surface on a sturdy table.
I just put assorted stainless steel, plastic, and wooden items outside. I’ll check them in an hour to see if I’m overthinking this.
My Webers (charcoal grill and gas grill) have inexpensive covers and live outside all the time. I figured heat would not be an issue as prep usually precedes cooking. If you go the gas route, the board can just sit on the grates. For rolling dough you might get either furniture grade plywood with smooth veneer on one side or even something with a bonded surface. Heck, get a piece of stone for the top of the grill. When not in use you can leave stone out in any weather. A single slab of the stone of your dreams might be surprisingly affordable.
What type of stone were you thinking? Something from Home Depot or Lowes?
My cooking takes a while. I prep as I go, at least the first 30 minutes, if not an hour on weekends, involves prep. It’s not time efficient for me to prep everything ahead of time because of the type of (Pakistani) food I often cook. Also, by heat, I mean heat from the sun in really hot weather. If I take the cover off a stainless steel table, 30 minutes later on a 95 degrees day, I’m thinking the table will be very hot, but I’m testing that theory right now.
A couple of things about stainless steel… first, it has a relatively low emissivity rate, plus when polished it is highly reflective. This means it will absorb less heat from sunlight than darker or organic materials.
But, it is also highly conductive, so it may feel warmer to the touch even though its surface temp may be lower than other materials. So when doing your tests best to use a thermometer rather than by feel.
Other than glass, I can’t think of a material that would be better. You could go with stone or ceramic as their properties will take them more time to heat up, but once they get hot they will stay that way for a much longer period of time. Whereas stainless steel’s minimal mass and high conductivity means it can be cooled off quickly with just a wipe of a wet towel.
A place like Lowe’s probably has good sized pieces of things like marble for use in showers, but it may not be very thick. A local stone provider that cuts and installs kitchen counters will usually have more selection and ability to cut to size and shape needed. The stone I have for counters, soapstone, is about an inch thick. If you need to be prepping as you go, the slab of stone may not be a good solution.
Stainless steel is decidedly nonconductive.
You might want to lookup the definition of conduction. (c;
The heat of SS was my first thought. Also highly polished=blinding You could put a table cloth over it, I suppose.
My resident physics expert tells me electrical conductivity does not always imply thermal conductivity. Regardless, I’ll be borrowing an IR gun and using a table cover to get a good idea.
Your expert is correct. But note that due to SS’s low emissivity, you will not get an accurate reading on it with an IR thermometer. Moreover, if you’re not familiar with the emissivity factor of the other surfaces you are measuring you may run into similar inaccuracies.
The best way to measure with IR is to use organics (which have a very high emissivity). So putting a light coat of vegetable oil on the surface will give you an accurate reading, but only of the surface of the oil and not the surface underneath (so give the oil enough time to come up to the temp of the underlying surface).
Sigh… I don’t know where you get this stuff.
SS has a thermal conductivity of about 14 W/mK. Cast iron–itself a poor conductor–is much more conductive, at about 52 W/mK. SS’s very low conductivity is why it’s used extensively or pan handles.
If a metal object has enough mass (which usually equates with thickness), it could get uncomfortably hot if left out in the sun. Fortunately, SS work tables are very thin gauge. Between that, poor conductivity and low emissivity, there isn’t appreciable danger.
Sigh… in context: we’re talking about a work surface here. While stainless steel is not as thermally conductive as many other metals, compared to other kitchen surfaces (wood, ceramic, stone, plastics/composites) it is quite high… and the point you are trying to argue is just wrong.