Maintenance Tips: Best Practices To Extend Fryer Oil Life
Proper filtration doesn’t just mean filtering oil regularly. There are two types of filtering—passive and active—and a variety of filter media to use depending on the product you’re cooking in your oil and what you’re trying to accomplish.
Passive filtering involves passing the oil through a filter medium to remove particulate matter. Common filter media include stainless-steel mesh, paper and fabric, and can remove particles ranging in size from 300 to 0.5 microns.
Stainless filters are easy to clean, but only remove large food particles. Paper filters are inexpensive, but can clog or gum up quickly and absorb a lot of oil, costing you money in the long run. Fabric filters can be reused over and over and can remove the smallest particles. Carbon, another passive filter medium, also removes volatile compounds that cause off flavors and odors. You might end up using carbon along with another medium for best results depending on the product you’re cooking.
Active filtering uses a chemical filter powder to remove protein, blood and other impurities from oil that passive filters might miss. This often is referred to as “polishing” the oil, a step you usually need to take only if you’re frying products like meat, seafood and poultry.
Slow the oxidation, hydrolysis and polymerization processes by using best oil management practices.
- Avoid filling fry baskets over hot oil, so food particles don’t fall in the vat. When cooking breaded products, skim the oil frequently with a wire mesh skimmer to remove food particles. Avoid salting foods over frying vats, too.
- Use fresh products, not frozen, whenever possible. Frozen products will release more moisture into the oil.
- Avoid cooking at temperatures above 360ºF. Oil starts degrading quickly at temperatures above 300°F and temps over 360°F start approaching smoke points for many oils. Reduce fryer temperature to 280°F during idle periods to prevent it from deteriorating faster.
- Top off the vat frequently with fresh oil to keep the oil at the proper fill level.
- Filter oil regularly. Obviously, it’s difficult to take a fryer out of service when you’re in the middle of a rush, but the more often you filter your oil, the longer it will last. Most fryer manufacturers and oil processors recommend filtering about every fourth load if you’re cooking breaded products.
- Clean or boil out fryers only with manufacturer-recommended cleaning products. Be sure to completely remove all traces of any cleaners and dry the vats thoroughly before refilling with oil.
- Cover fry vats when not in use to keep oil from oxidizing and to prevent food or dirt from getting into the oil.
Copyright FER March 2013, All About Oil