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Frying gets a clean-label makeover

deep frying oil

Consumers are still clamoring for clean-label options on restaurant menus. Whether that means diners are eating more kale or looking for restaurants that don’t use GMO products (or both), operators stand to benefit from incorporating more natural practices across their operations—and that includes frying.

Frying and clean eating aren’t two concepts that are often seen side by side, but implementing more natural frying practices can be an area of opportunity for operators. And for restaurateurs looking to serve a variety of foods while catering to health-conscious diners, one way to do so is by using GMO-free oils for frying.

Menuing clean-label fried foods

Some of the most preferred appetizers in restaurants are fried ones, according to Technomic’s 2017 Starters, Small Plates and Sides Consumer Trend Report, powered by Ignite, with top picks including mozzarella sticks/fried cheese, french fries and onion rings.

And while people are increasingly seeking out healthier options, indulgent foods at restaurants will likely always be big sellers. Utilizing high-oleic frying oil can be a way to offer cleaner—but still craveable—options.

Why non-GMO?

According to Technomic’s 2016 Healthy Eating Consumer Trend Report, powered by Ignite, 64% of consumers say they think GMO-free foods and beverages are slightly or much more healthy, while 67% say they’d be more likely to buy GMO-free foods and drinks.

Frying oil can be non-GMO as well. Non-GMO-oil, including high-oleic sunflower oil, is ideal for applications that call for high temperatures or extended use—applications in which conventional non-high oleic oils would not be an option.

High-oleic sunflower oil—an oil that is high in monounsaturated fats and low in polyunsaturated fats—is more shelf-stable and is also free of trans fats, another big selling point for consumers.

Further, non-GMO high-oleic sunflower oil provide benefits such as:

  • Higher heat stability for frying.
  • Improved flavor.
  • Light, clean flavor.
  • Minimum fryer gumming resulting in decreased equipment maintenance.

For operators, longer frying life span, improved flavor and decreased equipment maintenance are big pluses. Conventional soy and other less-stable oils deposit polymers on food manufacturing equipment, causing buildup that requires extensive cleaning and can lead to equipment inefficiency.

Frying best practices

To maintain optimal frying flavor and life span, operators can follow these tips:

  • Shake fry baskets into a receptacle before lowering into the fryer. This helps shake off excess flour, batter, or coatings and helps keep oil clear of debris.
  • Ideally, fry foods direct from the freezer. Allowing foods to thaw can result in a suboptimal fry—less crisp, and not golden brown.
  • Skim the oil regularly. Leaving small particles burning in the oil can significantly reduce its life span, and it can also impart flavors to other foods. Skimming oil to remove these bits helps lengthen its life span and ensure great taste.
  • Ensure cooking temperature is accurate. Some foods fry better at higher or lower than standard fry temperature, and temperature recovery is important as well—when frozen or refrigerated foods are fried, they lower the oil’s temperature. If sufficient recovery time is not given, the lower-temperature oil won’t perform as well.

This post is sponsored by Stratas Foods