At a time when global cooking oil prices are touching record levels, it’s never been more important to make sure you are getting the most from the oils you use. There are a number of simple ways you can ensure its usable life in your kitchen is as long as possible and ensure you minimise the factors that cause oil to break down and degrade.
Taking the time now to establish best practice in your cooking oil management regime will save you money in the future and could also save you energy in the process.
Let’s start at the very beginning
Selecting the right cooking oil for the job will have a significant bearing on its longevity. All oils have different smoke points and the higher the smoke point, generally, the longer the life. You’ll know what oils you prefer to use for certain jobs but, if you find that your oil is not lasting as long as you’d like, it might be worth examining the options. There may be another oil that would suit your purposes better. Our sales team are happy to discuss the options with you. It’s also important to see the oil you buy as an investment. The purest, high quality oils will last longer, so make sure you are getting yours from a supplier with the highest possible production standards.
A clean fryer is a green fryer
Keeping your oil free from contaminants is critical to ensure that it stays in peak condition for as long as possible. Skimming off particles is an obvious way to capture food and other contaminants that have entered the fryer but filtering your oil regularly will ensure you remove everything, including material that has sunk to the bottom or adhered to the heating element. If left in the fryer for any length of time, food particles will burn, affecting the taste and smell of the remaining oil. Regular filtration and cleaning routines are key to removing food fragments from the fryer. How frequently you do this will depend on the volume and type of food going through your fryers.
There are a multitude of filtration systems out there from manual systems, like handheld filters, to sophisticated mechanical options. Whatever you are using, it is vital to remember that detergents will degrade and compromise your oil faster than anything else. We recommend you only use hot water to clean filters and, if you have to use any cleaning products to clean the fryer, make sure it is thoroughly rinsed to remove all traces of cleaning agents.
Less contamination means more cooking life
Oil and water really don’t mix. Once you’ve cleaned your fryer, dry it thoroughly with blue roll or paper towels and make sure any residual water is flushed out of any drain pipework. Oil is hydrophobic and as it is exposed to food and other sources of water, it steadily becomes less hydrophobic which makes it more likely to enter the food, making food greasier and reducing its moisture content.
Circulating your oil is a simple way to lengthen its life. Using it for chips first will keep them crisp, fresh and delicious. Once it’s served its time here, move it onto fryers you reserve for crumbed and battered products that are more likely to shed fragments and crumbs. Automated oil management systems, such as OilSense which are designed to optimise the working life of your oil, also work in this way, using built in filtration systems and piping the oil directly to storage tanks.
Animal fats will also diminish the quality of your cooking oil so avoid cooking things like sausages in your deep fryer unless you are coating them in batter which will isolate the fats from the oil.
If it can’t stand the heat, get out your thermometer
All oils will burn at a certain point so ensuring they stay below that point is critical to preserving their life. You’ll have a pretty clear idea of the smoking point of the oils you use and their optimal cooking temperatures but you can’t always trust your equipment to know that. We have often discovered that customers whose oil isn’t lasting as long as it should are the victims of faulty thermostats and dials. Fortnightly checks of fryer temperatures with a hand-held thermometer can help save time, oil and money.
Another way to protect your oil from heat exposure is to turn your fryer down at times of low use. This is not just good for your oil but will help the planet and your pocket by reducing your energy use.
Keep a lid on it
Keeping your fryer covered as much as possible will protect it from a number of potential pollutants.
Light entering the fryer will trigger chemical reactions that decrease the working life of your oil, steadily reducing the nutritious antioxidants it contains. Water droplets will also degrade your oil as will any food particles that get into the oil. Salt particles in particular will start a chemical reaction that will shorten your oil’s life so keeping the fryer covered, as much as possible, will prevent unwanted particles from making their way in.
Knowing when it’s over
Most chefs can tell when to change the oil in a deep fryer simply by eye. It will darken and the smell will change as it degrades. If you’re in any doubt you can always check to make sure you aren’t disposing of oil prematurely. There are test strips and electronic devices that allow you to measure the condition of your oil more scientifically.
Of course, the story doesn’t end there. Our business is based on giving your oil a totally new lease of life by converting it into valuable biofuels that perform to the highest environmental standards. These are then used in distribution fleets and as the biodiesel element in forecourt fuels.
To further minimise the environmental impact of this disposal process, you can return your oil to us in the container it was supplied in (we can provide you with a bespoke funnel designed to help you do this safely and quickly). This saves you having to pay to get empty oil containers collected by your waste manager, allows us to recycle the containers as efficiently as possible and reduces your storage requirements. Storing oil safely indoors makes it less prone to theft and ensures that it doesn’t fall into the wrong hands where it may be used in environmentally-damaging ways.
To find out more about how we can make your oil go even further, speak to one of our sales teams.
Cooking oil management infographic