Frying brings out some of the most delicious flavors in many different foods. Owing to their quick cooking abilities, fryers create a nice golden, crispy exterior on foods while maintaining a moist and flavorful center. This combination of tastes and textures can simply be a thing of beauty for our taste buds. However a great misconception about fryers is that the foods prepared in them will be greasy. In actuality this only happens when the fryer is essentially misused, causing the foods to soak up too much oil in the cooking process. In this series of articles we will cover the best practices when choosing and using fryers and how those methods will help you prepare the most delicious menu items for your customers.
The speed, convenience and simplicity of fryers are seldom rivaled by other pieces of cooking equipment. And while the fryer may not be the primary piece of cooking equipment in your establishment, it most likely plays an important role. Choosing the proper fryer for your needs depends on a wide array of variables. Once you’ve found the right one, you will open up your bar or restaurant to countless easy prep menu options that are relatively inexpensive people pleasers. In this blog, we’ll take a look at some of the most common types of fryers and their purposes. In future posts, we will examine these fryers individually and go over some very important cleaning and maintenance tips.
The countertop fryer is important for a few reasons. The first thing that comes to mind is its space saving qualities. Countertop fryers are compact and can fit on most equipment stands which make them suitable for kitchens with limited space. They are also important for places that serve fried food, but in limited amounts, such as a bar that with a small selection of appetizers or a concession stand. If your operation serves a high volume of fried foods with great regularity then a bigger fryer is a better idea.
Countertop fryers are great for preparing small, less breaded items like mozzarella sticks, French fries and onion rings. They will typically range in capacity from 10 to 40 pounds, but there are some available outside those sizes. Because they are used for lighter applications and don’t require as much energy to heat the smaller quantity of oil, they typically are electric powered. There are gas powered options available if electric will not meet your needs. The best way to size any fryer is by using its fries per hour capacity. Surpassing the weight limit per hour could pose possible problems for the unit in the future and prevent you from serving your customers in a timely manner.
Gas Tube Fryer
As evident by its name, the gas tube fryer is gas powered and requires minimal electrical hook up. It is much more applicable for high volume frying purposes. Most gas tube unit capacities range in size from 40 to 80 pounds and are often called floor fryers as they are stand-alone and do not require an equipment stand. As expected, the tank capacity will have a direct impact on frying production. Just like countertop fryers, there are some floor fryers that can come in smaller or larger sizes outside of the typical capacity range. What sets a gas tube fryer apart from others is its method of heating the oil. The heat comes via the tubes, which are deep inside the bottom of the vat. It has wide sediment collection zones at the bottom, which allows food particles to settle and lets the fryer take on a large amount of items at a time.
The bigger sediment zone makes it much easier to fry highly breaded food such as fish or chicken wings, as well as fries, onion rings, or mozzarella sticks. Specialty foods such as tempura or unorthodox items like candy bars aren’t suggested to be fried in a gas tube unit. Another benefit of the heating element being at the bottom of the fry pot is a more efficient heat transfer. It also allows for quicker recovery time (the temperature should be at or around 300ºF) between frying cycles. Of course, there are many factors that determine the cost of a gas tube fryer such as manufacturer, quality, capacity, and construction materials. The prices of gas tube and open-pot units are fairly similar, so pay more attention to the functionality, breading content of your foods, and set up of your kitchen when choosing a fryer. As we will elaborate on in a future blog post, cleaning a gas tube fryer can be arduous because the tubes are immersed deep in the pot and can trap food particles.
Gas Open-Pot Fryer
The design of the open-pot fryer allows for frying versatility involving a variety of food items. It is, however, not ideal for heavily breaded and thicker items that the gas tube unit may take on more easily and efficiently. The small sediment zone, thanks to its exterior heating method, does not provide an adequate place for heavy breading to settle. It is also suggested that open-pot units be used in lighter frying tasks than one would typically produce in a tube-type fryer. The open-pot fryer is great for preparing items taken right out of the freezer such as corn dogs, onion rings and hash browns. While the open-pot fryer is available in gas or electric power, it is much more common to see a gas operated unit. It is also considered a floor fryer as it stands alone.
One of the benefits of an open-pot fryer is its easy cleaning, and subsequently, easy operation. There are no heating elements on the inside of the fry pot, which means that no food particles will build up in hard to reach areas. A cleaner pot translates into easy to see operation which produces fresher, better tasting food. Much like the gas tube units, most open-pot fryers range in capacity sizes from 40 to 80 pounds. Even if you get a large unit, it is still wise to not overload the fryer. If you’re looking to fry specialty items such as candy bars or onion radishes, a flat bottom fryer is probably your best option.
Selecting the best type of fryer for your unique needs will have a very strong impact on the flavor and quality of your fried menu items. As noted early, a properly functioning and accurately sized fryer will help you avoid overly greasy results and will allow you to much more efficiently run your operation and satisfy your customers.