Time to give frying a try?

The right fryer can be a versatile asset in the kitchen

While draught beer offers customers an experience at the taps which can’t be replicated at home, in the kitchen the commercial fryer can give publicans the opportunity to offer dishes even the most eager amateur chef is unlikely to be able to recreate.

Having the right kit is key to achieving the best results, according to equipment suppliers, who said there are a number of factors to look out for when purchasing, cooking with and maintaining a fryer in a commercial environment.

fryer chef

Michael Eyre, product director at Jestic Foodservice Equipment, said all food-led pubs stand to benefit from having a fryer of some description.

“Quick and easy to use and able to produce consistent results, fryers are often a regularly-utilised resource in a busy pub kitchen setup,” he said.

A fryer can represent a significant investment, and Eyre suggested operators choose a model with reliability and a long life cycle.

“Operators want to be confident that their equipment is going to provide them with an effective return and a reliable service for many years to come,” he said.

Steve Hemsil of Manitowoc Foodservice agreed that a fryer can be a big ticket item for a licensee, but highlighted the longevity and reliability of most equipment.

“Modern fryers have been developed to not only withstand the demands of a professional kitchen, but to remain reliable at all times whilst being efficient and sustainable in terms of energy usage,” said Hemsil.

A modern and reliable fryer won’t just save on repairs and replacement, it could also reduce the amount of oil a venue needs to use, according to Hemsil.

“Reliability should not only be thought of as just whether the equipment is in working order or the period of time between service intervals, but take into account how long the oil in the frypot remains at its premium and to what extent new oil is required to change or top up,” he said.

Oil was described as a “critical issue with running costs” by Simon Frost, chair of the Catering Equipment Suppliers Association (CESA).

Frost agreed that the right fryer can help reduce expenditure on oils.

“[Oil is] expensive and has to be looked after and replaced regularly,” he said.

“Fryers that can extend the life of the oil will save money.

“A filter system is the biggest single factor that can extend the life of the oil, by removing the contaminants that cause oil breakdown. Some fryers have filter systems built in.”

Extending the ‘lifespan’ of oil might benefit bottom lines, but when it comes to disposing of used oil, publicans have a legal obligation to do so correctly.

Kate Mortimer of oil waste firm Olleco said: “Any business collecting used cooking oil has to hold a registered carriers licence and provide a Waste Transfer Note after each collection.

“Without these, your business won’t be compliant which means you will be open to fines from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA).”

The importance of handling oil correctly was also highlighted by Paul Hickman, development chef at Lincat.

Hickman said oil temperature is key – from both a health and flavour perspective – and that operators should ensure they have the right equipment to maintain consistency.

“Operators should look for a fryer with accurate temperature control,” he said.

“Wide temperature fluctuation can cause significant problems.

“High temperatures can break down the oil, create carcinogenic acrylamide and present a fire hazard – especially with old oil. Low temperatures create soggy results.

“Frying in good quality oil at the correct temperature produces the healthiest food as well as the best possible results.”

If a consistent temperature can’t be achieved, Steve Elliott, national sales manager for catering supply firms Valentine Equipment and Cuisinequip, said it is “essential” that operators invest in new equipment.

“[Publicans] will lose money quickly from food that’s not being cooked properly with falling customer satisfaction, and the inherent dangers of food and operator safety if kit is damaged and failing,” he said.

A new fryer may help, but it isn’t the whole story.

Elliot also suggested operators get into a routine that involves cleaning and maintaining their kitchen equipment.

“Of course operators should carry out thorough daily cleaning of fryers and griddles,” said Elliot.

“For fryers this involves filtering the oil and removing frying debris from the oil, cleaning the stainless steel pan, plus a periodic clean where the operator washes all removable parts of the fryer including the oil buckets and gives them a deep clean using a degreaser or recommended product from their cleaning chemicals company.

“This will ensure that there is not a build up of carbonised particles, or dirt, that could harbour bacteria and make the oil degrade quicker than necessary.”

There may be some maintenance and cleaning to keep on top off, but having a fryer opens up a lot of options for publicans according to Robin Candy of Nisbets Plc.

“Whilst the majority of outlets are likely to use a fryer simply for cooking chips, a whole host of foods can in fact be fried,” said Candy.

“From cheeses such as mozzarella and halloumi to courgette fritters and vegetable crisps – the possibilities are endless. This makes a fryer an essential piece of equipment for any pub, bar or restaurant kitchen – no matter how varied the menu.”