Taking time to choose the right kit for your outlet can pay dividends
THE fryer has long been considered a kitchen essential – and while it’s perhaps most closely associated with the pub food staple that is chips, modern fryers can be used for cooking a range of different foods.
Manufacturers and suppliers say the flexibility of a fryer can bring real benefits – not just in the kitchen itself but to the venue’s menu.
Steve Elliot, sales director for Valentine Equipment and Cuisinequip, told SLTN that the fryer continues to play an integral role in most pub, bar, and restaurant kitchens and can “effectively cook the wide range of foods being offered by modern kitchens, from Japanese-inspired tempura to well-cooked traditional fish and chips”.
“For most busy kitchens in a restaurant, pub or bar a fryer is a linchpin in providing great tasting and quickly prepared and served dishes from many points in their menus,” said Elliot.
Stuart Hayes, of Pantheon Catering Equipment, agreed, adding that the fryer is a “particularly useful appliance in helping develop new ideas”.
“Obviously, it’s essential for chips
and basic fried foods but it’s also ideal for many other dishes such as tempura, arancini, Asian dishes and even desserts, all of which can help elevate a menu and improve profitability,” he said.
And it’s not just in cooking different styles of cuisine that a fryer plays an important role.
For most busy kitchens the fryer is a linchpin.
Growing demand for gluten-free options means stricter food separation guidelines must be followed in kitchens – and the right fryer can help, according to Shaune Hall of Falcon Foodservice Equipment, who said there’s a growing demand for “twin tank, two basket options to cope with allergens and dietary requirements”.
“These enable operators to confidently cater for customers with specific dietary requirements, such as gluten-free,” said Hall.
“With twin pan models, caterers can keep one pan dedicated to cooking gluten-free food, to reduce the risk of possible cross-contamination, giving the chef and customer the confidence that the food being served is free from specific allergens.”
Specific temperatures are easier to achieve with modern fryers too, according to equipment firms.
Steve Elliot at Valentine Equipment and Cuisinequip said digital controls have helped increase the accuracy of temperature; and Mark Banton, group managing director of Parry, a design and manufacturing catering equipment firm, agreed, saying improvements in thermostatically controlled products are among “the biggest changes we’ve seen”.
“This has meant that temperatures are more accurate and the recovery rates on equipment has improved,” added Banton.
Temperature control isn’t the only area technology has benefitted.
Graham Kille, technical sales director of Frima UK, said certain models now feature auto-lifting mechanisms which safely lower the food basket and raise it automatically when food is cooked – eliminating the risk of under or over-cooking.
A built-in oil filtration system is another fryer feature which can pay dividends, according to Elliot at Valentine Equipment and Cuisinequip.
“During the draining process, the oil passes through a mesh filter in order to remove carbonised debris that has accumulated during the cooking process; as the oil is passed back into the tank it goes through a finer, fabric filter,” he said.
“Regular oil filtration will improve the overall quality of the oil, its usable life, and consequently, the taste of the food by removing those contaminants that cause undesirable flavour transfer and breakdown.
“The oil should be checked and changed regularly depending on what’s being cooked and changes in colour and the taste of the finished foods.
“Of course used oil should be disposed of correctly through a company that collects and will make environmentally sound reuse of the used cooking oil.”
Taking a similar stance, Shaune Hall of Falcon Foodservice Equipment, said “integrated filtration systems have become more popular”.
When it comes to purchasing or replacing a commercial fryer, there are a number of key points to consider, including:
- Heat up and recovery times – operators not using their fryer all the time should ensure they select a unit with rapid recovery in order to cope with busy periods.
- Space – many kitchens are short on space so operators should consider investing in multi-functional equipment.
- Backup – it’s wise to consider a unit that comes with a backup service from the manufacturer, to ensure minimal interruptions should the unit ever break down.
“These maintain the integrity and quality of the oil for longer – saving money and staff time, whilst ensuring the fried food tastes at its best,” he said.
The benefits of regular cleaning and maintenance were underlined by Graham Kille of Frima UK, who said it “not only prolongs its life but keeps the fried products tasting better”.
For those looking to purchase or upgrade a fryer, Hayes at Pantheon Catering Equipment said establishing what the fryer will be used for now and in the future is key.
“If you are only going to offer fried foods occasionally or only have a small amount of fried foods on your menu, you won’t need a large model so stick to your guns and don’t get swayed by an over-eager sales person,” he said.
“Similarly, if your business commonly experiences both quiet and busy periods, choose a twin tank fryer so that you have the option of using just one tank when that’s all you need, thereby halving your bills.”