Nearly every restaurant has a deep-fat fryer, but are you using the best one for the type of cooking you produce?
Almost every type of restaurant, from gourmet gastro-palace to high street café, has a deep fat fryer. Used correctly and carefully, they produce flavourful results that are unrepeatable with any other type of cooking.
GAS OR ELECTRIC?
Electric fryers are cheaper to buy than gas fryers for low to medium production. They are available as free-standing, high-volume units and also as table-top fryers, which can be plugged directly into the mains socket in the kitchen. Gas fryers need professional installation and are not available as table-top models. Servicing costs on gas fryers may be slightly more expensive because of the need to check the gas system.
Gas-powered fryers may be more expensive than electric fryers but they can be cheaper to run and the bigger models have a higher output capacity. However, there have been significant advances in the technology of high-performance electric fryers in recent years, enabling them to compete with gas fryers in speed of output. In a very busy operation, speed of output is more important than the difference in energy cost between gas and electricity.
SINGLE OR TWIN?
Larger menus may demand multiple fryers. This particularly applies to aromatic foods, to avoid cross-contamination of flavours, and also where customers might not want, say, vegetarian foods cooked in the same baskets as meats.
Pressure fryers are used where speed of cooking is critical. They are often used for chicken in fast food outlets. The pressure fryer has a cover that seals in the product and oil during frying, trapping the steam, shortening the cooking time and lowering the oil temperature.
In pressure frying the food retains much of its natural juices, resulting in a less greasy product and, because the cooking temperatures are lower, the oil used in these fryers lasts longer.
Conveyer fryers are ideal for sites such as theme parks where a lot of people need to be served at once. The operator places the product to be cooked in baskets attached to a conveyor system. It then passes through the oil-filled fry tank and is dropped from the baskets at a collection station after it has finished the cooking cycle. The speed of the conveyor allows the operator to control the cooking process.
With fryers, energy consumption isn't just associated with the temperature and duration of cooking. It is also affected by the type of food you fry, and the oil you use. For example, good quality oil can normally cook better and less greasily at lower temperatures than cheap oil.
Keep it clean. A dirty fryer is not just unhygienic but can be inefficient too.
OIL QUALITY & SAFETY
â- Filter at least daily and make sure the "cool zone" at the bottom of the fryer is emptied properly.
â- Don't skimp on oil quality, and change it regularly. When draining, ensure the oil has cooled down before you start.
Q I own a traditional transport café. My two old tabletop fryers do OK most of the time, but when a coachload of people comes in, I'm struggling. Most of my profit comes in those rushes so I was thinking of replacing one of the fryers with a bigger model as I don't want to invest in a big fryer that's going to be expensive to run during quiet periods. What do you advise?
A Consider replacing both of the old tabletop fryers with a newer twin-basket model. Newer machines are faster and more efficient than older ones. One side can be kept switched off during quiet periods to save energy and because both sides of the fryer will heat up and cook identically, you will be able to cook more predictably and efficiently.