Buying oil for your fryers

Stability” and “oxidation” aren’t just terms you might have last heard in your high school chemistry class—they’re important concepts to know when buying oil for your fryer. So we asked some “oil experts” to pass along their tips.

fryer oil

What makes a good oil?
Linda Brugler, Senior Product Manager, Frymaster: “A better-performing oil is one that can stand up to the high heat generated during the frying process and be able to minimize the speed at which it breaks down. Trans-fat-free oils are more expensive for the operator, [but] there’s been a lot of work by the seed companies to breed oil seeds that can stand up to high-heat environments and still maintain their nutritional quality.”

Susan Knowlton, Senior Research Manager, DuPont Pioneer: “The most important aspect from a frying perspective is oxidant stability, the ability to hold up under high-heat conditions. When restaurant owners choose oil that doesn’t have enough oxidant stability, they encounter problems, [such as] ‘varnish’ all over the sides of the equipment. That happens because of oxidation and it’s enormously difficult to clean up. And, from a sensory standpoint, ‘off’ flavors develop because of oxidation.”

Does higher-priced oil mean better oil?
Tom Douglas, C.E.C., Corporate Chef, Henny Penny: “It could. But if you buy the best oil there is, and you do nothing to take care of it, it’s going to act like the cheapest oil on the market. If you buy less expensive oil and take care of it every day by filtering and putting fresh oil into the pot every time you need it, that oil’s going to last longer.”

Ben Carpenter, Marketing Specialist, Foodservice, Bunge Oils: “It’s a little bit of ‘you get what you pay for.’ A lot of people are fine buying commodity-grade oil but it just won’t last as long in the fryer. In general terms, you might pay a little bit more for more stable, non-hydrogenated oil but in the long run, you’ll see cost savings just because it does last that much longer.”

How can your oil choice affect your fryer’s performance?
Carpenter: “New, higher-stability oils don’t have as many particulates. They don’t oxidize as quickly; they don’t have as much buildup. So it’s less maintenance on your fryer itself.”

Douglas: “Everything you do [in the frypot] reacts with the whole machine itself. If you don’t filter the oil a lot, then eventually…it’s going to build up around the heating element so it’s not going to heat correctly.”

How does temperature affect oil performance?
Knowlton: “After ‘rush,’ high-volume frying, operators should turn down the oil temperature; a lot of oxidation happens during that period if you’re not constantly frying.”

Brugler: “For every 10° increase in the fryer temperature, there is a concurrent increase in the breakdown of the oil, moving it to its endpoint. So tight temperature controls—like you get from sophisticated controllers—extend oil life.”

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