Taste Test: Restaurant Operators Sample Fried Food While Learning About Fryer Efficiency & Oil Maintenance

Kiana Caban, Communications Assistant

WheKianan looking at your frying operation there are many factors to consider. What am I frying? Is the size of my fryer enough for my operation? When was the last time I changed my oil? How many times do I filter?

On April 26th, the Food Service Technology Center (FSTC) hosted the seminar High Performance Frying: Get the Most Out of Your Fryer Operation. The seminar featured expert discussion of energy efficient fryer specification, fryer & oil maintenance, and a taste test demonstration where guests could sample food fried with various types of oil. The goal of the seminar was to equip the restaurant operator with the necessary tools and knowledge to optimize their frying operation for efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and food quality. Guests came away from the seminar with “Five Frying Must Do’s”:

1. Specify ENERGY STAR & California Energy Wise Fryers
2. Match the vat to the food product being cooked
3. Know your cook times and oil temperatures
4. Protect the oil – “CHAW” on!
5. Filter frequently with a filter card or better yet spec a fryer with built-in filtration.

The FSTC’s Todd Bell discussed the benefits of ENERGY STAR and rebate-qualified fryers. Bell walked guests through the online Life Cycle Cost Calculator for gas fryers to demonstrate the short payback period in purchasing an efficient fryer. FSTC test data has shown that energy efficient fryers also perform better and recover temperature faster than their less efficient counterparts. Additionally, Bell shared a fryer case study in which the energy numbers from replacing an old fryer with a new energy-efficient fryer showed significant energy and cost savings.

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The FSTC’s Todd Bell demonstrates the commercial fryer life-cycle cost calculator on fishnick.com.

Beyond energy efficiency, the FSTC’s Mark Finck discussed fryer selection, usage, and maintenance. Finck shared a case study that compared different restaurants and their frying menus. When looking at the comparisons, most every restaurant had French fries on their menu. Mark related that the first priority in selecting a fryer is to choose which type and size of fryer best fits your menu and operation. Finck discussed the difference between gas and electric fryers, different heat exchanger designs (e.g. side, tube, and flat bottom), and the various types of control panels you will see on fryers. Now that we have selected our fryer, it’s time to fill them up!

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Mark Finck explains when to change fryer oil based on color, odor, and food taste.

“All Oils are NOT created equal.” Danny Klauer with Stratas Foods was the resident “Oil expert” for the day and discussed oil composition in-depth and how different factors can affect cooking oil life. Klauer discussed the process of oil creation from bean-to-oil and some of the different flavor options. He discussed the science of the much maligned trans-fat and helped define smoke point, flash point, and fire point for most types of oils. Lastly, Klauer shared the acronym “CHAWS” – Carbon, Heat, Air, Water, and Salt which are the five key elements that shorten oil life.

Let’s cook some fries!

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The FSTC staff fries French fries and chicken strips in several different types of oil.

For the demo portion of the event, the FSTC had six fryers lined up with nine different oil types for guests to sample. French fries and chicken tenders (many thanks to Performance Food Service Group for the donation) were fried so guests could try a breaded and non-breaded product in each type of oil and note the differences in flavor, texture, and appearance.

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Guests sample food fried with different oils such as corn, peanut, and canola.

Mark wrapped up the presentation communicating the path of a fry from the walk-in freezer to the customer’s table. He also shared different fryer maintenance and oil tips. When is it time to change your oil? There are many different ways you can measure when to change your oil, such as using an oil test kit, strips, looking at your oil, etc. Mark suggests “the best way to figure out if your oil needs to be change is by tasting the food you are serving.” If it doesn’t taste right, then you should change your oil. One of the best ways to extend your oil life is by filtering. There were numerous filter paper options that Mark shared during the presentation. Thank you to Corby Stow with Oil Solutions for sending us filter paper to share.

The FSTC looks forward to holding similar informational and interactive events for the benefit of foodservice operators and end users in the future. For a full calendar of FSTC seminars, please visit here. For the full presentation handouts for this seminar, please visit fishnick.com.