Picking the Right Options for Your Commercial Fryer
At first glance, the commercial fryer may seem like one of the simplest of pieces in any foodservice operation. Its sole job is to convert gas or electricity to heat, which is used to warm a pot of liquid or solid fat in which foods are cooked. That singularity of purpose and the relative ease with which it is accomplished can be misleading, though.
There are actually a number of options and accessories available in conjunction with commercial deep fryers that might allow them to function more effectively and efficiently in your kitchen. To help you get the most of your oil-based cookers, we’ve highlighted some of the most common and most helpful fryer accessories here.
The folks who know a lot about commercial fryers and how to get the most out of them recommend filtering fryer oil that gets regular usage once a day. Given that need for filtering, it’s easy to see why a built-in filtration system can make a huge difference in your kitchen. Not only does it make the process of filtering worlds easier and safer, it also ensures the job is done right. Clean oil lasts longer and makes a better-tasting product, which saves you money and pleases your customers. If you can’t justify the expense of buying self-filtering fryers, at least invest in a portable filtration unit that can be used for all your frypots.
Protective Night Covers
Fryer oil is a food product, an ingredient in your dishes, really. As such, it just makes sense to cover it when it’s not in use to protect it from things like creepy crawlies that might climb into it and airborne particulates that might fall into it. Keeping those things out isn’t the only way a night cover for a commercial fryer can protect the quality and extend the life of your fryer oil. It turns out light can actually degrade your oil, compromising its flavor and eventually making it essentially useless for cooking. Granted, you’re probably not using olive oil in your commercial fryers, but this Australian study on how light can degrade olive oil applies to other liquid fats, too.
Commercial Fryer Basket Lifts
As the name implies, a basket lift is an automated system built into the frypot that lifts your food product out of the oil with the touch of a button. That keeps the hands of the operator away from the scalding-hot and potentially popping fryer oil. Some units even have programmable timers that will lift the basket for you after a specified amount of time, allowing you to think about other things and cutting product loss by eliminating the possibility of operator error.
Fryer Basket Options
Speaking of fryer baskets, there are some options as to how many of them you use, with most commercial fryers offering space for either one large basket or two smaller ones. Beyond that, there are several specialty basket types, from ones shaped to create perfect taco salad shells and tostadas, to round ones and ones with trap doors that make emptying easier. Generally, most places will have no need of a large fryer basket, though establishments frying very large cuts of fish, for instance, might find them handy. For general use like fries and chicken fingers, a standard basket works.
Preserve Your Oil with Fryer Grates
One of the major factors in fryer oil breakdown is sediment that collects in the bottom of the frypot. Those crumbs can get stuck around the heating elements, which will continue to cook them until they burn or carbonize, giving a foul smell and taste to everything you cook in that oil. On top of that, those continually-cooking crumbs will degrade your oil, turning it dark and making it terribly inconsistent for cooking. To prevent larger pieces from collecting around the elements and causing those problems, you can fit your commercial fryers with fryer grates (also called fryer screens and sediment trays) that mount above the element and catch sinking sediment. When you filter the oil each day using your built-in filtration system, you just pull the grate up and empty what it caught into a trash can (provided your oil is cool before you start filtering).
Programmable Computer Controls
Despite early predictions that computers would just be a fad, it seems they’re here to stay. Embrace the technology with computer controls for your commercial deep fryer that can make it much more efficient and prevent product loss while producing a perfect product. Many can be programmed with multiple recipes, so the operator only needs to push a button to select the best cooking temperature so the food items in the fryer oil are cooked perfectly, with an audible alarm signaling when it’s done. They can also monitor the quality of your oil, alerting you when it’s at the set cooking temperature or when it’s time to filter. These machines allow the operator to step away and attend to other things while the food is frying, while also preventing product loss from distraction or from frying in bad oil.