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Minimise your spend on fats and oils by using your frying medium correctly and looking after it 

Fats and oils continue to be expensive commodities and with foodservice inflation raging at 19.9% in October, finding ways to save money is crucial right now. 

One option is to switch to a cheaper frying medium – it’s always advised to have an open mind and try new products – but it could be a costly mistake if you or, more importantly, your customers don’t like it. 

Instead, your first port of call should be making sure you’re doing everything you can to maximise the life of the oil you are using.

Smoke point

Different frying mediums have different smoke points – the temperature they can reach before smoking – and therefore frying at the right temperature is extremely important to oil longevity. Even a few degrees too high and you could be burning your oil much more quickly, meaning it turns darker and thicker and needs changing more frequently. Understanding this is especially important if you switch products, don’t assume all frying mediums perform in the same way. 

Dave Atkinson, MD at range manufacturer Martyn Edwards-Frank Ford, adds: “The less hammer you give your oil by working at achievable temperatures, the better.” Two additional tips, he adds: “Constantly sieve your oil as you fry and filter at least once per day to remove those hydrocarbons that degrade your oil quicker. And never wash your fryer down with detergents that may reach the pans’ oil contents, as this will certainly break your oil down in seconds.”

When you step into your shop in the morning and turn your range on, Leanne Green, sales and commercial manager at Nortech Foods, recommends raising the temperature of the fat gradually when starting from cold. “Applying heat too quickly to solid fats will cause localised burning and breakdown,” she explains. 

She also warns friers not to overload pans, adding: “This will lengthen cooking times, increase fat absorption and lead to fat breaking down.”

As a rule of thumb, Gary Lewis, chief commercial officer at KTC Edibles and NEODA president, says to fry one part food in six parts of oil. He explains: “If you’re using too much oil then you won’t need to top up as often – but the oil will spoil more quickly as it isn’t being refreshed.”

Gary also suggests reducing the temperature when you aren’t actively frying or in quieter hours so its not deteriorating.

Starch savvy

Potatoes create starch to keep themselves warm but this natural chemical can also break down your frying medium. Therefore, removing as much excess starch as you can from chips before adding them to a pan will help protect your oil. 

Andrew Marriott, UK brand and marketing manager at ADM, which produces Frymax palm oil, says: “A potato will naturally produce more starch when it becomes cold to keep itself warm. Therefore, during the months of August through to March, potatoes contain much higher levels of starch than ones we use during the warmer seasons. Simply using test strips from Drywite to detect starch levels could save you endless frying problems and huge oil costs.”

Andrew also recommends using a starch drainer correctly to keep chips free of excess residue. He claims that a bin containing three bags of chips without a starch drainer drains in three to eight minutes, depending on how many times the bung hole gets blocked with chips. The same bin with a starch drainer drains in one to two and a half minutes. 

“Draining your chip bins faster helps to prevent excess starch from sticking to the wet chips,” says Andrew. “Using a simple but effective method like this will help produce the perfect portion of chips and keep your oil management practices tip-top.”

As touched on previously, filtration is also key to getting the most out of your oil. With today’s high-tech ranges coming with equipment to do this built-in, Rob Furey, MD at Dutch range manufacturer Florigo, believes this allows friers to filter their oil with ease and distribute oil from one pan to another. Rob adds: “If you are a Florigo frier, we recommend changing your filter pad at least three times per week to keep your oil in tip-top condition and ensure you are getting the most use out of it.”

Rob also advocates the use of high efficiency pans, adding: “You won’t absorb as much oil on your product and a high efficiency fish pan doesn’t need as much oil in it.”

Transferring oil

Rather than dumping used oil from a fish pan, Gordon Hillan, area sales manager for Scotland at range supplier KFE, says friers that blanch chips can continue using it by transferring it to their blanching pan and then into a finishing pan using in-built filtration. 

“Some friers will transfer it the other way – the chip pan into the fish pan – but I would always recommend fresh oil in your fish pan,” says Gordon. “This is because heat accelerates the deterioration process in oils and fat, so if you are frying fish at 185°C, you are close to your smoke point already and you are deteriorating that oil pretty quickly. If you then move that oil to your blanching pan, which is set to 140°C, it gets a chance to convalesce for a while before it hits the last leg of its journey, which is going to be your finishing pan at about 175-180°C.”

With used oil in your chip pan, you’ll also have the benefit of your chips picking up a nice golden colour, says Gordon.

Clean pans

Cleaning your pans regularly will help remove any baked on impurities that can break down oil and keep your frying range working efficiently, both of which will save you money as you’ll be replacing your frying medium less frequently. 

Stelios Theocharous, MD at Ceres which produces a pan cleaner specifically for frying ranges, recommends working a boil out into your cleaning schedule once a month if possible, but at the very least every three months. He adds: “A boil out is a deep-clean for your pans where a combination of cleaning agent and heat get to work removing the tough grease, grime and carbon that gets burnt on over endless frying cycles. It’s the only surefire way of removing all that gunge and extending the fry life of your oil.”

Long-lasting blends

One final thing to consider is investing in long-lasting frying blends specially formulated to withstand frequent frying and hold up to the pressures of busy kitchens. 

KTC’s Gary Lewis explains: “Our Super Hi Fry range of high performance, long life frying oils includes products that last up to two and a half times longer than standard vegetable oils. This means fewer oil changes, less cleaning and reduced waste – resulting in significant time and cost savings.”

It’s important to match your oil to the food being fried, however, with Gary adding: “If frying food with a high rate of absorption – like doughnuts -, fat spoilage is more likely to be controlled by continuous topping up with fresh fat or oil – so choosing a long-life oil may be unnecessary.”

With costs rising for businesses across the board, there has never been a better time to know and understand the capabilities of your frying medium, whatever you use. In fact, this is a lesson that can be applied across other elements of your business too to minimise spending wherever possible. 

Ceres Pure Food Innovation 0845 3711 522 www.worldofceres.com

Florigo 01527 592 000 www.florigo.co.uk

Frymax www.frymax.co.uk

KFE 01778 380 448 www.kfeltd.co.uk

KTC Edibles 0121 505 9200 www.ktc-edibles.co.uk

Martyn Edwards-Frank Ford 01642 489868 www.me-ff.com

Nortech Foods 01302 390880 www.nortechfoods.co.uk

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