In a restaurant kitchen, cooking oil is just as vital as heat or salt or water. Without it, you’ll have a hard time making much of anything. Of course, the costs of cooking oil quickly start to add up — especially when you use a lot of it. That’s why it makes good business sense to be as efficient as possible with it: if you can reduce how much oil you use, you can buy less of it, and your margins will increase. With the goal of getting as much life out of your oil as possible, here are some tips for efficient fryer oil usage.
Filter Oil Regularly, Skim Oil Constantly
The quality of your oil is as much about what’s in your oil as it is about what’s not in it. Consistent filtering and skimming will keep it free of debris and improve your fryer’s efficiency. Oil should be filtered twice a day and skimmed every 15 minutes. Establishing this kind of routine and sticking to it goes a long way toward ensuring your cooking oil lasts as long as possible.
Cover Your Fryers When You’re Not Using Them
Not all of the debris that floats in your fryer oil is a product of the food you cook there. Covering your fryers when not in use prevents foreign materials from finding their way into your oil. In addition, it also protects your fryers from oxidization, which can accelerate the breakdown of cooking oil.
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Avoid Overfilling Fryers
Filling your fryers beyond the recommended oil level is wasteful and inefficient. Higher oil levels increase your risk of dangerous oil spilling or bubbling over onto the floor. In addition, the more oil you have in your fryer, the longer it will take your oil to reach the desired temperature, wasting energy needlessly. Most deep fryers have “fill lines” — and filling them as close to these lines as possible is best practice. The manufacturers test their products over and over to determine these levels, and following their guidelines is an important best practice for getting the most life out of your oil.
Cook Where You Should
While the process of frying different types of food may be similar, the effect these foods have on cooking oil can be dramatically different. Some foods degrade oil quickly; others have minimal effect. That’s why it’s important to designate different fryers for different types of food — especially if you’re making a conscious effort to extend the life of your oil. Chicken wings, for example, are much more damaging to cooking oil than French fries. Wings can leave blood in the fryers that can darken the oil and degrade it. Seafood leaves a strong taste that can transfer to other foods. At a minimum, you should try to have separate fryers for proteins and vegetables or starches.
The Hotter the Oil, the Shorter the Lifespan
As silly as it sounds, heat is bad for cooking oil because hotter temperatures break the oil down even more quickly. Keep your fryers at no more than 350 degrees, and consider turning the heat down — or even off — during lulls in service.
Shake the Ice
Ice and water cause more than just an intense bubbling when placed in your fryers. The combination of water and cooking oil actually forms acidic compounds that can affect your food’s taste. Minimizing the water that goes into the fryer not only extends the life of your oil, it’s also safer for your employees.
Clean Before You Fill
When it is time to empty your fryer vats, clean your fryers thoroughly before refilling them. Doing so will prevent even a small grime accumulation from becoming a big, long-term problem, which will go a long way toward preserving your oil’s cooking life.
How Do You Make Your Fryer Oil Taste Better?
Taste is subjective, but the best way to ensure your food tastes great to as many people as possible is to always use oil that’s fresh — never use oil that’s too dark, thick, or strong-smelling. Check out our article, “How to Make Your Fryer Oil Taste Better,” for more helpful tips.