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How Often Should You Filter or Change Fryer Oil?

Chef frying french fries

Have you ever accidentally left something cooking in the deep fryer until it started to burn? Then you know that burnt food causes oil to take on an unpleasant taste and smell — and the unpleasant taste will go on to attach to any food it cooks. This is happening constantly on a smaller scale in your fryer every day. As you fry food, small pieces of batter, breading or other flaky bits break off into the oil. The longer they remain, the more they will burn, and the more your oil breaks down. This is why it’s important to filter your deep fryer oil often. Of course, it’s not always clear how often you should filter. Every kitchen is different, but there are a few important factors that can help you understand how often you should filter your cooking oil:

  • The type of food you’re frying: Proteins demand more frequent oil filtration than vegetables or starches. That’s why it’s a good idea to have two fryers in your restaurant kitchen if you cook both meats and veggies/starches. 
  • Is it breaded, battered, or crumbly? Some breading or batter will inevitably fall off during the deep frying process. The longer it remains in the oil, the more the oil will degrade.
  • The size of your deep fryer/amount you cook: What’s the ratio of your fryer size to the amount of food you cook in it? If you have hectic rushes where your fryer is crowded, the oil will need to be filtered more often than if you only pop in a few batches of french fries occasionally.

With these factors in mind, combined with careful monitoring, you should be able to find an oil filtration routine that works for your kitchen. 

One Easy Way to Extend the Life of Your Oil

Skimming is an extremely simple process, and all you need is a mesh skimmer from the restaurant supply store. Those bits of food that flake off into the fryer oil? Some will float to the top. They’re easy to take out with the skimmer, and the sooner they’re removed the better. Make it a habit between batches to take thirty seconds to skim as much as you can. You won’t get all of the bits, but you’ll get a lot of them. If you’re not skimming regularly, you may be shocked at how much of a difference it makes in prolonging the life of your oil.

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Filter Cooking Oil at Least Twice a Day

For busy kitchens that rely on the deep fryer, we recommend filtering oil at least twice per day. This might sound like a lot, but the truth is you shouldn’t wait days between filtering — food quality suffers too much. Consistent filtration is the most important step in extending the life of your fryer oil. It also helps ensure consistent food quality and keeps operational costs down.

Follow these easy steps for proper cooking oil filtration:

  • Filter for a minimum of five minutes per fryer vat
  • Filter oldest oil first
  • Clean fryer vat while filtering to remove any food particles
  • Test oil with a kit after filtering
  • Rotate fryer vats as needed
  • Track filtration
  • Dispose of oil with manager approval

Determine Your Oil Testing Standards

One way to determine if your oil is performing optimally is by testing it. For best results, follow a consistent procedure and perform your evaluation based on predetermined criteria. Always test after filtering

To determine if your oil is still good or it’s time to replace it, consider the following:

  • Taste: Fryer oil should have a light intensity and pleasant aroma that doesn’t mask or overpower the food’s flavor.
  • Thickness: If cooking oil is too thick or viscous, that’s a sign it has begun breaking down and should be replaced as soon as possible.
  • Food texture, appearance, durability: Test-fry a piece of food to see how it responds. Food should have a crispy, tender bite. It should not appear too light or too dark, and the color should be golden. It also should not crumble or fall apart after being fried.

If any of these criteria seem off, it’s time for fresh oil. When in doubt, err on the side of fresh oil because it makes such a difference in the quality of the finished product.

What Happens If You Don’t Filter Cooking Oil?

When you don’t filter your cooking oil regularly, it breaks down quickly. This means that one of two things is happening: you’re not getting as much cooking life out of your oil as you could be, or you’re cooking your food in subpar oil. Either way, it’s probably costing you more than you realize. Consider the following scenarios:

  • You’re not getting as much cooking life out of your oil as you could be: In a busy kitchen, certain tasks can fall by the wayside. Perhaps your employees are so focused on getting orders out that oil filtration gets forgotten — but they do remember to replace it if it takes on a dark color or burnt taste. The good news at least is that your food is getting cooked in fresh oil. The bad news is that with proper filtration your used oil likely would have stayed fresh for much longer. This inefficient oil usage drives up your food cost and cuts into your profit margin.
  • Your food gets cooked in subpar oil: Subpar oil produces subpar food, which leads to customers leaving your establishment less satisfied, and less likely to turn into repeat customers.

How to Filter Your Cooking Oil More Often

There’s no question that frequent filtration extends the life of your deep fryer oil, improves the  quality of your food, and saves you money. The only question is: how can you filter your cooking oil more often? Especially in busy kitchens, sometimes there’s just no downtime. Restaurant Technologies created Total Oil Management with busy kitchens in mind. An all-in-one oil management solution that connects to your deep fryers, Total Oil Management makes it easy for your crew to know when and how often to filter your cooking oil. This ensures that filtering gets done more often and more effectively, which leads to more consistent food quality and better overall customer satisfaction.


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