Today’s frying equipment is made to be safe, energy efficient and easily cleanable. Energy efficiency is easy for electric fryers since the heating elements are immersed in the frying medium. However, many operators want gas fryers because they are often less costly to operate than electric. But now many gas floor-mounted fryers are consuming 50,000-60,000 BTU of gas per hour, where only a few years ago the same size fryer consumed almost double that.
Three basic gas fryer types or designs are available. The first type is the tube-style fryer, which is best if you don’t want crumbs to destroy the taste of your fried food. The second type is the open-pot style fryer, which is ideal if you want equipment that can be cleaned easily and can handle all types of frying with ease. The third type is the flat-bottomed style, which is best suited for frying light foods like taco shells and tortilla chips.
The tube fryer is ideal for items such as French fries and breaded items. Tubes of gas flames run through the fry vat to heat the medium. One manufacturer recently patented a system to route the tube through and around the fry medium five different times before it is released out the vent flue. These fryers are among the most energy efficient on the market.
Tube-style fryers are designed with a cool zone to allow food particles to collect at the bottom of the fryer where temperatures are cooler and will not harm the frying medium or allow taste transfer to the various products being cooked.
Features to look for when buying energy-efficient gas fryers include different types of controls, insulation, covers, on-board filtering, heated holding areas and stainless steel finishes. Computerized controls can aid in ensuring consistent batches of food every time, regardless of medium temperature or product temperature. Insulation can increase efficiency in both gas and electric models and reduce waste heat. On-board filtering is safer and more efficient than using a separate filter.
Once you have selected your fryer, the job of making it a successful addition to your kitchen is not over. Training staff in the proper operation of your fryer is essential for quality food and for the safety of your employees.
Caring for your frying medium is as important as any factor in making high-quality fried foods. Today’s frying oils are specially formulated for use in deep fat fryers and are often more expensive than the food products being cooked in the fryer. To get the greatest use from your frying medium, be sure to filter daily and skim out many of the floating particles as possible continually throughout the day. Avoid salting foods over the fryer, as salt will breakdown fats. Foods should be as dry as possible before being fried, as moisture also breaks down fat.
Moisture and food particles are primary factors leading to fat deterioration. The taste and quality of fried foods are affected adversely once the fat begins to break down. Filtering for small countertop fryers can be as simple as pouring the contents of the frypot through a filtering cone and into a clean fry pot. Larger, sophisticated banks of fryers may have built-in frying systems that can filter the oil and return it to the fry pot without any handling. Some manufacturers offer filtering systems that fit neatly within the underbody of the fryer, not requiring any additional floor space for the equipment. These are especially useful in very compact kitchens.
Pay special attention to correct cleaning and filtering procedures. Always use only frying media made for deep fryers and don’t overfill the fryer or overheat the medium. Also be sure to provide slip-resistant flooring around fryers and keep the fryer, hood and surrounding area clean and grease-free. It’s vital that your staff be trained to filter your equipment properly to avoid serious accidents.
Dan Bendall is a principal of FoodStrategy, a firm specializing in planning foodservice facilities.