The deep fryer is an absolute staple in the commercial kitchen today. Just think a minute about all of the different fried foods we enjoy: fried chicken, fish and chips, fried shrimp, wings, french fries, onion rings, calamari, and donuts. And that’s just to name a few! No matter where you are, you will likely find most of these fried foods and more at a restaurant near you. As a restaurant owner or operator, you most likely have a least one deep fryer in your kitchen, if not several. If you do have deep fryers in your establishment, are you getting the most out of your fried food program? Are your fryers turning out the best possible quality product? Are you getting the best return on your investment in your fryers?
If you are not filtering your oil, both your food quality and your profit margins are suffering. In fact, oil filtration is one of the most important things you can do preserve the quality of your fried foods and increase your profitability.
Oil Filtration for Food Quality
How can oil filtration preserve the quality of your food? To answer that question, we need to understand how fryer oil degrades over time during use. The four main causes of oil degradation are water, air, sediment, and heat.
First, water usually finds its way into fryer oil in the form of ice crystals from frozen foods. Some water will also render from food as it cooks, especially if it has excessive marinades. Because the boiling point of water is much lower than oil, water is very disruptive to fryer oil. Second, air degrades oil through oxidation as the oil sits out uncovered. Third, sediment left behind from food particles burn, causing off flavors, odors, and darkening of the oil. Finally, the heat itself from the fryer degrades the oil quality over time. As the fryer continues to heat the oil, the smoke point of the oil gradually lowers, causing the oil to smoke and deteriorate.
Remember that oil is food too! You can start with the best quality product, but the quality of your food is only as good as the quality of your oil. Burnt, degraded oil imparts bad flavors and aromas into fried foods. It is also less efficient than clean oil. When you fry with oil that is past its prime, the breading or the crust on the food does not crisp as quickly, and the food absorbs more of the oil. Rather than a crispy, golden brown product, you end up with a darkened, greasy mess. The simple equation here is cleaner oil equals better food, which is why you want to filter your oil regularly.
Oil Filtration for Cost Savings
Depending on how much you use your fryers, fryer oil can easily make up a significant portion of your food cost. As an example, let us consider a commercial kitchen that does not filter their oil and has to replace it twice a week. For one fifty-pound fryer, at an oil cost of $1.00 per pound, that equates to $100 a week to operate that fryer. Over the course of a year, that comes out to $5,200 a year and that is just one fryer! The good news is that studies from major commercial fryer manufacturers have proven that the practice of regular, consistent oil filtration reduces the operating cost of a deep fryer by 35% or more. For a restaurant that operates four fifty-pound fryers, using the same numbers, a 35% reduction in operating cost comes out to an annual savings of $7,280!
Restaurants that filter their oil realize these kinds of cost savings because oil filtration extends the life of your oil. With regular to heavy use, your oil might last three days at best without filtration. With filtration, you can easily stretch that to an average of six or seven days. As we are well aware in the restaurant industry, managing your food cost is essential for profitability. If you operate fryers in your restaurant, and you are not filtering your oil, you are literally throwing money away.
Filtration Methods: Filter Pots
The most basic way to filter a fryer is by using a stock pot along with a cone filter and cone filter holder. However, using a stock pot can be tricky because you will need to find one that has a volume capacity greater than the fryer pot and has a low enough clearance to fit under the fryer’s drain valve spout. This can make finding the right stock pot a challenge, as many of them are a little taller than that. That is where a filter pot is very useful, since it has both a large volume capacity, and a low enough clearance to fit under most drain valves.
The filter pot also has the added safety feature of a lid that securely latches in place for safer oil transport. This makes filter pots especially useful for food trucks, as you can store and transport oil in the pot as needed. Even so, using a filter pot can still be tedious, as you still must lift the pot and manually pour the oil back into the fry pot.
Filtration Methods: Mobile Fry Filters
The much more efficient way to filter is using a mobile fryer filter, such as the Pitco P14. Mobile fry filters use a pump to draw fryer oil through the filter paper. After the oil passes through the filter, the machine pumps the oil into the filter hose. While the fryer valve is still open, you can use the flow of oil from the hose to dislodge any residual sediment inside the fryer pot. When you are ready to refill the fryer pot with clean oil, you simply close the fryer drain valve, hold the filter hose over the fryer pot, and allow the fryer filter to do the work for you. Mobile fry filters come in different sizes. When you are shopping for one, be sure to consider the oil capacity of your fryer so that you do not purchase a fry filter that is under capacity.
To get even greater life out of your oil, you can use MAGNESOL® powder with your mobile fry filter. MAGNESOL® works by extracting dissolved impurities from the oil that the fryer filter alone would not catch. To use MAGNESOL®, simply add the recommended amount on top of the paper fry filter before draining your fryer oil into the mobile fry filter.
More Tips for Oil Quality
Filtering your oil is the best thing you can do to get the most out of your oil, but it is not the only thing. There are some other simple steps you can follow that help even more. You should filter your oil at least once per day to get the most quality and life cycle from your oil. However, if you use your fryers quite frequently, it is a good idea to filter after every shift. Check your oil temperature daily and to verify set temperatures and calibrate your fryers regularly to prevent overheating the oil. Set your fryer temperature to 300°F or below when not in use, or turn the fryer off when not in use for several hours. Keep your fryer pots covered overnight the reduce oil oxidation.
If you have any questions about fryers or oil filtration, you can call 866-591-3463 to speak to one of our product specialists. You can also find a full selection of deep fryers, fryer filters, and fryer accessories in our store at 3110 Preston Highway in Louisville, KY.