By Rick Stier
Deep fat frying is perhaps the most dynamic cooking process known. Foods of all sorts are dropped into hot oil that ranges in temperature from 275ºF to over 400ºF. This cooking oil is in a constant state of flux thanks to its exposure to high temperatures, air, moisture, food, and the different components in food. Each of these elements are enemies to your frying oil, and therefore, must be understood and managed as part of the frying process.
These factors will deteriorate your frying oil and ultimately reduce the quality of fried foods. In a previous post, “The Three Main Enemies of Frying Oil,” we discussed how air, water, and temperature adversely affect frying oil and offered a few tips for combating them. These are not the only “enemies of oil” as was noted above. All factors must be considered when developing and implementing a program for managing frying oils.
Let’s take a look at some of the secondary “enemies” of frying oil:
Trace Metals – Metal ions from food, breading, cleaning compounds that have not been removed from the fryer, and equipment accelerate the processes that break down frying oils. These include but are not limited to magnesium, calcium, copper, iron, and other metals.
What can you do?
There are several things that can be done including ensuring any repairs utilize proper fittings. Replacing a worn stainless steel fitting with one of bronze will kill your oil. It is also imperative that cleaning procedures, which usually include a boilout, are done properly to ensure that caustic cleaners are totally removed from the fryer. And, finally, it is imperative that foodservice operators treat their oil on a regular schedule. Treatment with Filtercorp’s SuperSorb® carbon pads will remove trace metal ions, which slows the degradation of frying oils and ultimately maintains consistent quality of fried food.
Surfactants – There are many different surfactant compounds that form in oils. These include mono- and diglycerides and other materials including alkaline soaps. The development of surfactants is essential when it comes to ensuring proper frying, but soaps are bad actors. Small amounts of soap in the low parts per million can break down cooking oil, reduce its useable life, and result in the formation of secondary degradation products that compromise food flavor, aroma, and its overall life.
What are soaps?
Soaps are formed in oil when a free fatty acid reacts with an alkali:
RCOOH + NaOH - RCOONa + HOH
Free fatty acid + alkali - Soap + Water
The alkali can come from foods (salts and other food ingredients) or cleaning compounds. Soaps are surfactants, which means they can react with oil and water. They have elements that are both hydrophilic (water loving) and lipophilic (fat loving).
What can you do?
The goal is to keep alkaline materials out of your fryer. There is not much that can be done with foods and food ingredients, but cleaning must be done according to established procedures. And, finally, it is imperative that foodservice operators treat their oil on a regular schedule. Treatment with Filtercorp’s SuperSorb® carbon pads will remove soaps, which slows the degradation of frying oils and ultimately maintains consistent quality of fried food.
Food Particles – As you’d expect, these are inevitable enemies to frying oil.
What can you do?
Best practices mandate that frying oils be treated at least once a day to extend the life of your frying oil. Ideally, filtering should take place at least twice daily with the ideal times being after lunch and at closing. Treatment with Filtercorp’s SuperSorb® carbon pads removes not only the food particles through a process called passive filtration, but will also remove the bad actors or enemies alluded to above via active filtration or what we call active treatment. During the course of the day, foodservice workers should be trained to skim particles from the fryer. This will also help reduce oil breakdown and reduce the burden on the oil treatment system at the end of the day.
Proper Handling Leads to Profitability
By following the guidelines and avoiding both these harmful factors and the primary enemies of frying oil, you can provide consistent, great-tasting food, and increase the profitability of your frying program.
Learn more about increasing the life of your frying oil.
Discover some best practices for increasing the life of your frying oil. See our free checklist of Dos and Don’ts that will help you develop a more efficient frying program and save money in the process.