Save Money with Fryer Oil Filtration
Best-practice recommendations call for filtering the oil in your commercial fryer once a day, more if your fryer gets used non-stop during business hours. Many operators don’t see the value in filtering their oil this often, but ignoring the process can ruin the taste and texture of your food and cost you more on fryer oil and utility bills. In the worst cases, dirty oil can cause your fryer to break down or even start a grease fire.
You can easily double the life of your fryer oil with a regular filtering schedule. That means you’ll be using half the oil, which will save you money in the long run. Keep in mind that it usually takes no more time to filter oil than it does to change it, so your labor costs shouldn't increase.
When to Filter or Replace Oil
The most expensive part of operating a restaurant fryer isn’t buying the unit or paying for the utilities to run it; it’s the recurring cost of fryer oil. Oil that doesn’t get filtered will break down thanks to the presence of food particles, fatty acids, and ice crystals from frozen foods, causing it to become dark in color and smell foul. It will also thicken, making the fryer less efficient in transferring heat to food products. The compromised oil will need to be replaced more often than oil that gets filtered regularly, and in the meantime it will result in a substandard product.
There are several methods available to test fryer oil for quality. Traditionally, the color of the oil is used, with darker colors indicating degraded oil. A better option is fryer oil test strips, which test for free fatty acids, a by-product consistently produced as cooking oil breaks down. These strips can alert you when the oil needs to be filtered or changed. For a more advanced option, fryers with automatic filters test for total polar materials to determine when filtering or an oil change are needed or can be set to filter on a time-initiated schedule.
Ways to Filter Your Fryer Oil
The easiest way to keep your oil clean is with a fryer that has a built-in filtration system, which is installed within a battery of fryers, often inside the cabinet of a heat-and-dump station. Little else is required of the operator after he or she hits a couple of switches and waits for the system to complete the process. Automatic systems can complete the cycle in a matter of minutes, so you can filter the oil between dayparts and even between batches with little downtime.
A second method is with a portable deep fryer oil filter system, which requires a little labor but is quicker than manually filtering the oil. These can be used with any type of fryer and include a nozzle that you insert into the frypot. The system will filter the oil and return it through the same nozzle.
The final method is by manually filtering your oil with a cone filter. This method is most commonly used for smaller countertop fryers and ones with removable frypots, but with enough care and patience on the operator’s part, it works for floor model fryers, too. It is the most labor-intensive option, but necessary if you don’t have a built in filter or a portable system.
The process you’ll use to manually filter your oil will vary by equipment manufacturer, but will usually include the following steps:
- Wear protective gloves and an apron. Oil should be warm when it gets filtered, so wearing protective gear will help you avoid burns.
- Consulting the operator’s manual, determine where the oil drains from the unit. Depending on what type of fryer you have, you may need to attach a spout to the drain valve.
- Choose a heat-resistant container that is big enough to hold the full capacity of your fryer’s oil with plenty of extra volume so that it can be moved without the oil splashing out. The container should rest securely on the floor during this process.
- Insert the filter into the filter stand and place it securely on your container. Sprinkle filter powder, which helps clump particulates in the oil so they're captured by the paper, in the cone.
- Position the drain nozzle over the filter and open the valve slowly, ensuring the oil drains gradually so it doesn’t overflow the filter.
- Using a stiff wire brush and a fryer cleaning rod, clear the sides, bottom, and drain of the fry pot of residual oil and food particles.
- When all the oil has drained, be sure to close the valve so it’s ready to be refilled.
- A thorough boil-out cleaning should be done periodically. Wash the inside of the frypot using a cleaning solution like Pitco Frialator Cleaner or soapy water. Fill the frypot to just over the minimum oil line with your solution, then turn the burners on and allow the water mixture to boil for about 15 minutes.
- Turn off the burners and drain the solution into another container using the same process you used to drain the oil.
- Rinse any soap out of the fryer with clean water and dry the frypot completely, then close the drain valve.
- Have someone help you lift and pour the filtered oil back into the frypot. Now you’re ready to start cooking again.
Other Tips for Extending Oil Life
In addition to filtering the oil regularly, there a few preventive steps you can take to help your fryer oil last longer.
- Keep crumbs out of the oil. After you load the basket, shake it over a trash can to get rid of loose breading and, if the product is frozen, ice crystals. Food particles can get trapped and carbonize, breaking down the oil and affecting the taste, while water from the ice can also promote the break down of oil.
- Don't overload the basket. Fryer baskets should only be filled 1⁄3 to 1⁄2 full. The temperature of the oil drops when you add cold food and it takes time to recover to cooking temperature. Meanwhile, food can absorb the oil and become soggy, and the quality of the oil will suffer. Avoid this by adding smaller amounts of product so temperatures can recover more quickly.
- Keep the fryer covered with a lid when you're not using it. Exposure to air will break the oil down and leave it open for contaminants.
If you have any questions, call one of KaTom Restaurant Supply’s helpful customer care representatives at 1-800-541-8683 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.