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Here at MTI, home of the AutoFry ventless fryer, frying is in our blood. We eat, sleep, and breathe fried foods and because of that, we’re pretty well versed in the BEST and WORST frying practices. After over 20 years of ventless frying, we’ve seen or heard it all! The good, the bad, and the ugly! So today we give you our do’s and don’ts for frying practices --- and while our expertise is in ventless frying, these rules can be applied to all styles of fryers.
Not all oils are cut from the same cloth. Each oil has its own unique flavor profile and set smoke point, which can really effect the output of your fried foods. Smoke points are the temperature at which oil begins to break down. The higher it is, theoretically the longer your oil will last.
Flavor profiles are also really important to consider when choosing oil, as they can completely change the taste of a menu item – soybean, for example has a very high flavor transfer on foods. And while canola oil has much less flavor transfer, it has a very strong smell while frying. All of these things add up to make for a very important decision, so think it all over thoroughly. To learn more on each oil’s characteristics and make a thoughtful decision for yourself, check out our Fryer Oil 101 blog, found here.
Presumably your kitchen will have some slow periods throughout the day where you’re not doing much frying, if any at all. Don’t keep your oil set to cooking temperature during those periods of downtime. If you have an AutoFry, there is a standby button on every machine that can be used to turn the heating element off and cool oil to 300 degrees. This is still warm enough so that heating the oil back up to cooking temperature will be quick and easy, but also cool enough that you’re able to extend oil life. For a traditional open fryer, you can manually set your oil to a lower temperature as well, and we recommend 300 degrees as a happy medium.
This one may seem like a no brainer, but frozen foods make the perfect deep frying vessel. Most frozen products, like French fries, are blanched prior to being frozen, which lowers cook times. This means you’ll have food cooked in top speed! Additionally this leads to a twice-fried style of frying – for fries, this would be Belgian style fries – super crispy on the outside, nice, warm and soft on the outside.
We recommend frying frozen when possible, but it’s imperative that you shake off any large or excessive ice buildup off of the frozen product prior to putting it in the hot oil. If you load the food in while it is covered in ice, you’ll find yourself with a huge mess on your hands – and quite literally, if you’re using an open fryer it could result in burnt hands.
What happens when that ice hits the hot oil? It has no choice but to rapidly expand, causing an explosion of hot grease and water. In an enclosed fryer like AutoFry, you’re not going to get burnt by this action, but you could find you oil pot boiling over and making a huge mess of things. If you’re using an open fryer, the situation is a bit more dangerous, so take caution and make sure to get any excess ice off, prior to frying.
Oil filtering is a crucial frying practice that is often forgotten or done too infrequently. Not filtering oil leads to shorter oil life span and bad tasting food. Neither of which is good for your business, so it’s imperative to make a good habit out of filtering oil daily. You can filter automatically with a device like our AutoFilter unit, or manually through a bucket and net process. Regardless of how you filter, the key is that you DO filter. Daily. And possibly even twice a day if you’re frying at a very high volume!
Filtering oil will keep foods tasting good and keep your oil costs down. Oil breakdown occurs at a much faster rate with dirty oil, so by keeping your oil clean you’re going to have a longer life span on your oil, and save money on purchasing new oil over time.
If you’re filtering oil daily, you might be tempted to skip a more thorough cleaning weekly, but DON’T! If you want your equipment to last the long haul, you need to maintain regular cleaning procedures – including a weekly deep cleaning. This involves cleaning out your oil pot, changing spent oil and cleaning out any dirt, grease or grime that may have built up through the week.
When you’re going about your weekly cleaning, you may want to also consider changing oil. You’ll know that oil needs to be changed when food starts to smell or taste burnt or stale, if the finish on your food is darker or has burnt spots, or when you see a smoky or slight blue haze coming from your fryer. These are all pretty good indicators that it’s time for a change! You can learn more about oil change warning signs here.
DO keep up with filter changes if you are using a ventless fryer that requires them. AutoFry remains ventless with the help of its three filter system. That ventless process, however, is comprimised when filters get old and overloaded. So make sure to stay on top of regular filter changes. If you're using a hood or vent system, be sure to have it annually inspected and cleaned as needed.
DON'T fool around with your fryer. Hot oil burns are one of the leading kitchen accidents in commercial kitchen spaces, so safety needs to be a top priority. Of course, if you're cooking with a fully enclosed fryer like AutoFry you can rest easy on worrying about employees getting burned.
DO adjust your oil temperature for different foods --- some items are happily fried at 350 degrees but other items, like fresh wings, will do better at 375 degrees!
DON'T overload your fryer basket. Sure you're cooking more items at once, but if they're too crowded they won't cook evenly and you could run into potential food safety problems.
DO top off your oil each morning. As you fry throughout the day, you'll loose oil along the way. It's important to keep oil up to the fill line on your oil pot and a morning top-off is the easiest way to ensure you're at the right line.
DON'T filter oil while it's hot. Again, this comes down to safety, you want to make sure that oil has cooled to 200 degress before you start the filtering process.
And finally, DO have fun with your frying recipes! In America, pretty much anything is fair game to be deep fried - candy bars, vegetables, cereal, ice cream, you name it, it's been battered and fried at some point!