Nothing is much more satisfying than perfectly prepared, crispy fried chicken or French fries that are crunchy outside but soft inside. Or how about a deep-fried cheese stick that stretches out into a hot, gooey thread? Nirvana. But it’s not always easy to produce consistent, deep-fried deliciousness in the kitchen. Here are 5 tips to help:
1. Choose Oil Wisely and Watch the Temperature
The oil that you choose can affect the taste of the food. For example, most olive oils will have notes of a floral nose, but canola oil is more neutral. So, decide what type of oil pairs best with the flavors you’re frying. And understand that all oils are not created equal.
While most oils should fry at temperatures between 350F and 375F, smoke points vary greatly. The smoke point of extra virgin olive oil ranges from 325-375F, vegetable oil is hotter at 400-450F, corn oil smokes at 450F, and refined avocado oil at a toasty 520F.
So, know the smoke point of the specific oil in which you’re frying and, while smoking oil isn’t necessarily bad, it does signal that the oil is beginning to break down and be less effective – and less tasty. Here’s a good chart of smoke points.
2. Stay Dry
Oil and water don’t mix, so always keep two things dry: your work space and the food you’re frying. Use a paper towel to pat food as dry as possible before frying and frequently wipe moisture from all prep areas. If any water gets into hot oil, it could cause an explosion. Additionally, moisture can break down the oil more quickly.
3. No Salt
When preparing foods other ways, say grilling or baking, it’s great to season before cooking. But, like water, salt and oil don’t mix. Salt can cause hot oil to splatter dangerously. Also, salt lowers the smoke point of the oil, which can result in uneven cooking.
4. Cut Food Uniformly
The food you’re frying should be uniformly cut. Whether it’s a potato, a chicken finger, piece of zucchini, or some breaded cheese, make sure the pieces are similar sizes to produce more uniform frying and a more consistent and enjoyable meal. Obviously, the larger the piece, the longer it will take to cook.
Additionally, food needs to be cooked in the correct amount of oil and be careful not to overfill the fryer. A good rule of thumb is six parts oil to one part food – 6:1. If too much food is put in the fryer, the oil temperature decreases, and the food will be greasy and soggy. If there’s too little food and too much oil, that oil will spoil more quickly and is wasteful. Always fry in the smallest vat possible for maximum efficiency and the least waste.
5. Clean Often and Properly
It’s good practice to use oil more than once but it should be cleaned properly and replenished. Use a small kitchen strainer to skim off small bits of floating burnt food before they burn and carbonize, affecting the flavor and effectiveness of the oil. Depending on how much use the fryer gets, the oil should be skimmed at least every day or maybe at the end of each shift.
You should gauge oil consumption so that you add at least 20% of new shortening daily, depending on the frying load. You can stretch the life of the oil by filtering, and a professional service, like FiltaFry, is recommended for the best safety and efficiency around hot oil.
After the cooking oil has reached the end of its life, the vat needs to be emptied and properly cleaned. It’s a big job and you need to make sure the fryer is free of cleaning residue afterward because this can cause catalytic degradation in the oil as well as affect the taste in the next batch of frying.
It’s a sensitive task, but deep frying can be done successfully. And safely. If you are interested in learning more about frying, click here to visit our website.