Pressure Fryers Buyers' Guide
There's a reason the pressure fryer is practically synonymous with frying chicken: It was created specifically for cooking that classic comfort food. The earliest versions of the pressure deep fryer were developed to cook one of the most famous chicken recipes of all time. Harland Sanders worked closely with his friends in the foodservice equipment industry to develop a safe alternative to his modified stovetop pressure-cooker setup.
Pressure fryers are hailed as able to create some of the juiciest fried chicken you can achieve, but how do they produce such a high-quality product? The answer comes down to a simple property of water, which, when under pressure, boils at a higher temperature than the familiar 212 degrees Fahrenheit. When it comes to frying chicken, that means less of the moisture in the product escapes in the form of steam than it does when it's fried in an open fryer. Thus, it creates juicy, plump chicken.
Follow these tips to choose a commercial pressure fryer that will help put your fried chicken on the map.
The first step in choosing the best commercial pressure fryer is to determine how much product you need to fry per batch. If fried chicken is one of your bestsellers, then you'll likely want a standard-sized fryer with an oil capacity in the neighborhood of 50 pounds. A fryer that size will be able to handle a dozen or more pounds of chicken per batch, frying it in as little as 12 minutes.
Extra-large pressure fryers, including the BKI FKM series and Winston LP56 fryer, are equipped to handle as much as 18 pounds per batch. Choose one of these high-capacity fryers if your fried chicken is what brings in the majority of your customers.
Electric vs. Gas
You'll find a wider selection of electric models among pressure fryers than in standard fryers because the way pressure deep fryers are constructed makes electric models particularly efficient. Electric elements are submerged directly in the fryer's oil, and since pressure fryers cook in an enclosed environment where little heat can escape, virtually 100 percent of the energy used goes into cooking food.
Gas-operated fryers are still popular options, especially in areas where gas tends to be cheaper than electricity. You'll find gas fryers in both LP and NG configurations.
Pressure Fryer Features
As with regular fryers, pressure fryers are built with "cold zones" that collect excess breading and sediment to keep it from burning. Winston Industries' unique Collectramatic takes that process a step further, gathering food sediment in a detachable "collector" connected to the bottom of the frypot that makes it a cinch to clean out the debris.
Unlike the handled, rectangular baskets that come standard with most traditional fryers, pressure fryer baskets are often round and designed to be submerged fully in the oil. Winston Industries has innovated on this fryer feature, too, with quarter-rack baskets that are designed so chicken can be moved directly from the fryer basket to a sheet pan so it may be kept in a holding cabinet at its just-fried best.
Manually filtering the oil is one of the most labor-intensive requirements of owning a fryer. It's also one of the most important because clean oil lasts longer and produces fresh-tasting food. You can always choose to have staff filter your fryer's oil by hand, but if you want to save some serious time, consider choosing a pressure fryer with a built-in automatic filtration system. Automatic filtration systems make the process of filtering your oil as easy as pressing a button. This simple operation frees up labor for other important tasks and helps ensure the oil gets cleaned as often as it should.
Digital interfaces provide a series of keys that can each be programmed with a specific menu item. To cook any of those items, a staff member needs only to press the corresponding key and the fryer will cook at the set temperature for the set amount of time.
Some operators may still prefer the simplicity and lower initial cost of manual controls. Sometimes a temperature dial and a timer are all you need to achieve the results you want.
Some folks assume commercial pressure fryers are more dangerous to operate than normal fryers, but that's not the case with modern equipment. Today’s pressure fryers only operate at a relatively low pressure of around 12 PSI. They're built with a number of standard safety features, including high-temperature cutoffs and high-pressure valves that prevent that pressure from building up beyond a safe level.
Pressure Fryer Accessories
When you place your order for a pressure deep fryer, be sure to remember any of these essential accessories you'll need to get the most from your equipment and to keep it in good working order.
- Extra baskets: Most manufacturers will include a basket or two with your purchase of a fryer, but you'll likely want to order extras to make sure you'll be prepared to keep with the demand for your fried foods.
- Brushes: You'll need a sturdy brush or two to reach into your frypot and remove any stubborn sediment or grease when it's time to clean the equipment. Be sure to choose tools that are sized correctly to reach the bottom of the frypot safely. Follow the manufacturer's recommendations to choose a brush with the right type of bristles. Ill-suited brushes can melt or scratch the frypot interior.
- Filter systems: If you choose to order a fryer that doesn't include a built-in filtration system, you should consider purchasing a fryer filter setup that can significantly reduce the labor costs and risk of injuries compared to filtering the fryer oil by hand.
- Shortening Disposal Units: Like the process of filtering your fryer's oil, emptying and disposing of the oil at the end of its useful life can be a labor-intensive process. A shortening disposal unit can make this process quicker and easier by giving staff a wheeled container in which to collect and transport the oil and a pump-powered nozzle through which to pump the grease into its disposal container.