If you used a trans fat oil to deep-fry before, you’ll find that the oil or shortening that you switch to may require more attention.
Every fry product has an approximate "fry life" that varies with the type of frying you are doing. Using any oil past its fry life creates unhealthy byproducts. When deep-frying, especially, be sure to monitor your oil carefully and change it as soon as it starts to break down. Here is what to look for:
- Excessive darkening, foaming, and viscosity or thickness
- "Off" flavor and odor in fried food
- Greasiness/loss of crispness in fried food
The signs of oil breakdown are the same no matter what kind of oil you fry in. Abusing or over-using fry oil get you soggy, bad tasting and unhealthy food.
So don't abuse your oil! Good fry oil maintenance is good business practice that customers will notice.
Begin by keeping oil in a cool place (and away from the light if it's stored in clear bottles). In the deep fryer, follow these guidelines:
- Avoid unnecessary exposure to heat. Maintain a steady temperature between 325oF and 375oF; do not overheat. If you have a long break between periods of use (between lunch and dinner, for instance), allow the fryer to cool—but not too much—as repeated cooling and heating can also harm oil. A resting temperature of 280oF is recommended. Be on the lookout for fryer "hot spots" that may cause burning or localized overheating.
- Keep food crumbs out of the fryer. Remove excess breading and fat from food before frying, and skim out food debris after each frying. Fill fry baskets away from oil, to keep crumbs out. Never salt or season foods over the fryer.
- Keep the fryer clean. Filter completely at least once a day, and keep the fryer spotless (daily cleaning is recommended). Rinse the fryer thoroughly with a vinegar solution after cleaning to neutralize detergent residue.
- Control moisture. Dry the fryer thoroughly after cleaning. Don’t allow condensed moisture on the hood or fryer cover to drip back into the oil. Remove excess moisture from food before frying.
- Cover the fryer when not in use. This will limit contact with the air and keep particles out of the oil.