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Fryer Oil Maintenance: Tips To Make Oil Taste
Better & Last Longer
The fryer is one of the central cooking appliances in many
restaurants and commercial kitchens. And central to every commercial fryer is
the shortening or oil in the vat. Maintaining that oil is key to producing
great-tasting product every time. Oil maintenance is more involved than you
might think, and if done properly, can add significant time to the productive
life of your fryer oil and improve the taste of your product.
Fryer oil is an organic compound. That means it breaks down
naturally over time, just like any of the food product in your walk-in. At
over 300 degrees Fahrenheit, that degradation process is accelerated. As if
that weren�t enough, three things contribute to the even more rapid
deterioration of fryer oil:
Oxidation � contact with air makes the oil �stale� over time,
just like a bag of chips.
Hydrolysis � the presence of water in fryer oil is unavoidable when frying
food product, but as water interacts with the hot oil, acidic compounds form
that can really affect taste.
Polymerization � As oil breaks down, compounds form and bond
together, which leads to surface foaming and the further breakdown of oil
quality and taste. This process is made even worse by food particles, which
will inevitably collect in the oil as product is cooked.
There are several things you can do to combat the three enemies of oil
quality. Here�s some tips that address each one specifically:
Fighting oxidation: minimize fryer oil contact with the air
whenever possible. The most common method for doing this is to cover the fryer
vat when the unit is shut down. Also regulate oil temperature so that it
doesn�t exceed 360 degrees Fahrenheit. During lulls, reduce heat to 280
Fighting hydrolysis: don�t fill fryer baskets directly over
the fryer vat. This is especially true for frozen product, because ice
crystals will end up in the oil. Of the three, hydrolysis is the hardest to
fight, because there is going to be water in everything you cook.
Fighting polymerization: again, don�t fill fryer baskets over
the vat. Food particles speed polymerization, so a good technique is to load
the fryer basket away from the vat and give it a few good shakes to allow any
free particles to fall away before the product takes the plunge. Another
polymerization agent are seasonings, especially salt. Add any seasoning away
from the vat to keep them out of the oil as much as possible.
Of course, no matter how hard you fight, eventually it�s going to be a losing
battle. Water, air, and particulates are going to end up in your fryer oil no
matter what you do. Your only choice is to take them back out before the oil
breaks down. You can do this effectively with a good filtration system.
How much you filter your fryer oil depends on what you�re cooking, in what
volume, and how often. In general, breaded foods like fried chicken or fish
mean you should filter more often, because of all the food particles that are
going to end up in the oil. French fries are much cleaner and therefore the
oil can handle a lot more rounds before filtering.
No matter what, you should develop a filtering schedule. Fryer oil test strips
are the best way to keep track of oil quality, and they�ll give you a starting
point for your filter schedule. Filtering fryer oil greatly extends the life
of the oil, and smart restaurant operators filter the same oils several times
to get the maximum life out of it before having to refill.
Portable fryer filters provide an easy way to filter fryer oil without slowing
your busy kitchen down too much. And when you�ve squeezed every last minute of
cooking capability out of that vat of oil, dispose of it safely with an oil
transporter. Finally, use a Smart Spout for pouring new oil into the vat
Before you refill with a new batch of oil, however, you�ve got to clean that
fryer vat out. It�s a thankless job, but someone�s got to get in there and
remove as much of that great friends of polymerization, food particulates, as
possible. Especially focus on cleaning the �cool zone,� the area underneath
the burners in the vat where particles are intentionally concentrated in order
to prevent them from heating up too much during cooking. A water/vinegar mix
is a great way to make sure detergents are neutralized after you�ve thoroughly
cleaned the vat.
Maintaining fryer oil quality takes a lot of work. But in the end, it�s worth
the extra effort because you get a lot more mileage out of each vat of oil.
And if saving money isn�t enough of an incentive for you, then the prospect of
serving great tasting fried foods to your customers every time should do the
Envirowise is a
government programme that delivers free, confidential environmental advice
to UK businesses, enabling them to improve profitability whilst
reducing environmental impact.
HSE Catering information
HSE Risk Assessment
contains simplified guidance based on
complex and changing legislation, and does not constitute legal advice.
Food and Drink Index
Regional and Local Food-Guide
Defra Home Page
Public services all in one place, brings
together the widest range of public service information and services
Food Standards Agency Homepage an independent Government
department set up by an Act of Parliament in 2000 to protect the
public's health and consumer interests in relation to food. A wealth of
information is available to help with all aspects of foodservice