Put Your Oil to the Test - Steps to Improve Oil Quality and Fry Life
Fryer oil plays a very important role in your kitchen. You can use the best ingredients in the world, but if your cooking oil isn’t up to par, your efforts may not reach their full potential. There are many reasons why your cooking oil may not be making the grade but the good news is many of these are within your control. Multiple factors impact the performance of cooking oil including types of food being fried and amount and duration of filtration activities, to name a few. Food is a large variable in cooking oil performance since each type impacts how long oil can last and how fast it breaks down (otherwise known as durability or fry life) – proteins for example, such as chicken or fish, are harsher on oil than starches, such as potatoes, due to breading and seasoning that inevitably get into the oil. Another variable that impacts cooking oil is consistent filtration which can impact quality and flavor if the oil isn’t being properly cared for. If filtration activities aren’t being routinely completed the oil flavor and profile suffers, and you’re more likely to be spending excess money on oil because you’re dumping and replacing entire vats of cooking oil that hadn’t been properly managed more frequently.
Well-managed, properly filtered oil, used in conjunction with regularly maintained equipment, helps reduce kitchen costs and waste while increasing operational efficiencies and productivity. A trained staff and quality automated equipment put you at an advantage when it comes to frying the foods your customers love. Follow these steps to put your oil to the test, extend the life of your fryer oil and achieve optimal frying results.
Filter Oil at Least Twice a Day
Some companies offer on-site filtration and oil services scheduled out a couple times a week. But the truth is you shouldn’t wait days in between filtering – food quality suffers and it ends up costing an arm and a leg. Daily, consistent filtration is the most important step in extending the life of your fryer oil. It helps control food consistency and keeps operational costs down. When you filter, it’s important to be mindful of the following guidelines:
- Filter for a minimum of five minutes per fryer vat
- Filter oldest oil first
- Add powder to polish the oil
- Use fryer filter paper
- 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
For every day that you properly manage your oil with consistent filtration, it gains two days in functional oil life. The life of your oil depends on the type of oil, quality of filtered oil and the kind of food fried, as well as the frequency with which you use the fryer. For example, medium-durability oil such as premium soy can generally be used for at least seven to 10 days if the oil is properly managed and filtered. Make sure you’re getting the most out of your oil without sacrificing quality – every unnecessary disposal is money down the drain.
Determine Your Oil Testing Standards
To determine whether your oil is performing at optimal levels, regular testing should be conducted. For the best results, follow a consistent procedure and perform a thorough, unbiased evaluation based on pre-set criteria. Oil testing should be done after each filtration activity to determine whether the oil still has some life in it or if it needs to be disposed of. Testing can also be conducted to determine whether you’re using the right kind of oil as each has their own properties and benefits to complement your cuisine and operation. Either way you’ll be testing, you should determine your ideal fried food criteria. Below are four criteria you shouldn’t ignore:
- Taste – the oil should have a light intensity and pleasant aroma that doesn’t mask the food’s flavor
- Texture – the food should not be too limp or too crunchy. It should have a crispy, tender bite
- Appearance – food should not appear too light or too dark, but have a golden color
- Durability – the final product should not crumble or fall apart after being fried
Skim Every 15 Minutes
Start by skimming the top and sides of the fryer with the skimmer, and then dispose of any errant particles. Removing loose food particles helps keep your oil clean longer and improves the consistency, letting your food maintain its unique flavor profile.
Establish a Schedule for Turning Off Vats
Schedules for turning on and shutting off the fryer are an efficient and sustainable way to extend the life of your oil. This helps your equipment preserve oil and conserve energy.
Cover Fryers When Not In Use
Protecting your fryer decreases the likelihood of contamination from substances and particles not intended for the fryer.
Check Fryer Calibration on a Quarterly Basis
Fryer systems tend to require recalibration over time. Checking calibration regularly helps ensure your fryer is working at its best. Compare the temperature of your fryer to the temperature reading on a food thermometer placed in hot oil. Adjust your fryer’s temperature accordingly. If your oil is too hot, it will degrade more quickly.
Fill Fryer Only to the Appropriate Oil Levels
Avoid filling the fryer above the recommended fill line. Keeping oil measurements at the proper level reduces excess waste and ensures adherence to food-safety guidelines. It is also a back-of-house safety procedure aimed at preventing oil-related injuries.
Well-maintained, quality equipment and standard procedures can make all the difference when it comes to extending the life of your oil. But the reality is, no matter how well your fryer is working or how effective your employees are at properly filtering and managing fryer oil, manual oil maintenance can be a dirty, hazardous job. That’s why companies have created automated oil management systems to be used in conjunction with existing fryers.
Automated oil management systems can take the hassle out of changing and filtering your oil – resulting in safer and more sustainable and efficient oil management. These systems handle the mess and danger of oil management so your employees never have to touch a drop. And unlike other services, these systems often include tech features – such as a dashboard for easy-to-understand performance indicators, UCO sustainability metrics and monitoring systems – enabling you to track daily usage and disposal patterns and receive alerts. Using an oil management system can help set up your restaurant for long-term success by properly tracking, filtering, disposing of and maintaining your fryer oil.
Hungry for More?
Fryer oil has the ability to make or break your customers’ dining experience. Bottom line: The taste, texture and appearance of your restaurant’s fried food depend on the quality of your oil. While maintaining fryer oil can seem like a sizable investment both in time and resources, it’s worth every penny. By extending the life of your fryer oil, you’ll be able to fry up the golden, crispy food that keeps your customers happy and hungry for more.
Restaurant Technologies is a partner who helps food service operators make their kitchens safer, smarter, more efficient and more sustainable through automated back-of-house technologies. If you’re ready to take the hassle out of your cooking oil and see financials as well as operational improvements in your back-of-house, contact us today to learn more.