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Paul Forrest
Research
08.31.20

Choosing a Deep Fryer for Your Commercial Kitchen

There’s a reason why fried foods are beloved by diners: They taste delicious! Fried foods have practically become a staple in the world of commercial kitchens; but not all fryers are created equal. While they provide operators endless possibilities to crank out creative dishes, there are different types of fryers that work best for particular menus, space and staff. The first and most important thing that you should note when thinking about adding a fryer to your space is how it will be used. Breakdown your menu and look for the following:

  • Can your foods share the same cooking oil?
  • Do you need to use separate temperatures and multiple fry times?
  • What state will the food be in when you fry it; fresh or frozen?
  • Are you using a fryer for one specific type of food? What about food allergies?

Seeing your menu broken down will help you better understand the commercial fryer type and size that best suits your kitchen.

Types of Commercial Deep Fryers

Stand-Alone Fryers 

Stand-alone fryers are the most common in the industry. The different types allow you to accomplish a range of tasks. Typically, stand-alone fryers are for kitchens that have a menu heavily oriented toward fried foods. They are ideal for daily use due to their durability, ease of use and simple maintenance. Additionally, fryers come in a variety of deep fryer sizes and configurations (from freestanding to battery). Below you’ll find a description of the four most common styles of stand-alone fryers.

Gas Tube Type

Designed to have a designated cold zone at the bottom of the tank, tube type fryers work best for frying foods that produce a lot of sediment, such as freshly-breaded fish or chicken. The cold zone also helps extend oil life.

Pros

  • Submerged tubes distribute heat evenly and make for an energy efficient unit
  • Ability to fry high sediment menu items coupled with oil savings due to cold zone makes this a versatile option
  • Large cold zone helps prolong oil life

Cons

  • Tubes in vat make it difficult to clean
  • 20% of oil rests in cold zone

Gas Open Pot

Great for high volume frying, open pot fryers have their heating elements on the outside of the frypot, rather than inside. This makes this style easy to clean and best for low-sediment items and frozen foods. The tank shape features a “V” in the bottom, creating a small cold zone for sediment and allowing more oil to be used for frying.

Pros

Lack of tubes or burners inside tank make easy to clean

Small cold zone allows more use of oil in vat

Cons

Heating elements outside of pot make this a less energy efficient option

Cold zone holds less sediment

Gas Flat Bottom

Ideal for foods with wet batter or dough, flat bottom fryers allow foods to sink and rise as they cook. Heating elements are positioned beneath the frypot allowing the entire surface to transfer heat. This design completely eliminates the cold zone.

Pros

  • Wet battered foods sink in oil and rise while cooking
  • Foods float rather than sticking to bottom
  • Available in electric and gas models

Cons

  • Sediment can create burnt taste in oil due to no cold zone
  • Can be high maintenance and need frequent filtration

Electric Fryer

Similar in design to tube type fryers, these fryers have electric heating elements submerged into the oil. Because heating elements are submerged, it causes faster recovery and high energy efficiency than its gas counterparts. 

Pros

  • Energy efficient
  • Easy to clean due to lift-out burners (select models)
  • Countertop models available
  • Elements submerged directly in oil create fast temperature recovery

Cons

  • Electric costs vary. Can be expensive
  • Can be difficult to clean stationary burners

One important take-away is that each of these fryer types has a different size cold zone due to their design. The cold zone can be found at the bottom of frypots below the burners or in a designated designed area. This area is where food particles or sediment that falls off food sinks to. Contrary to what the name suggests, the oil is still hot, just not hot enough to burn sediment and taint the oil. Shapes and sizes of cold zones vary based on fryer type.

Countertop Fryers 

Countertop fryers are best for smaller kitchens or restaurants that do not have a fry-heavy menu. These units are often used over refrigerated and freezer bases for point of use cooking, which eliminates the need to walk to full sized refrigerators. In some cases, they can hold the same amount of food inside the frypot, use less oil and take up less space. Additionally, smaller electric countertop fryers can be unplugged and moved around the kitchen easily. 

Electric or Gas?

The choice of electric or gas for your fryer depends primarily on your access and the relative costs of each power supply in your location.  Nationwide, it appears that the cost of gas has been trending downward while the costs of electricity has been steadily mounting. Local utility companies will be able to provide you with updated, accurate pricing.

Fryer Maintenance and Filtration

Fryers are one of the most heavily used pieces of equipment in commercial kitchens, meaning they naturally demand more maintenance. The average life span on a heavy-duty fryer ranges from 7-10 years. Get the most out of your equipment and oil with proper upkeep and addressing small issues before they become big problems. Maintaining your fryer may seem like a daunting task, but there are a few simple steps that you can take to keep it running like new. 

  • Address oil leaks in the tank or well early, as they are an indicator of a problem. Not only can they impact the efficiency of the fryer, but they can easily become a fire hazard.
  • Be mindful of the time it takes for oil to get to ready temperature. If you’ve noticed it’s taking longer than usual or you’re having problems maintaining a temperature during regular use, call a certified technician for servicing.
  • Try not to cook at extremely high temperatures. Prolonged high temperatures can compromise the integrity of the fryer and oil.
  • When possible, minimize your fryers’ exposure to water. The last thing you want is for your equipment to rust and break down.
  • Periodically check thermostats to ensure they’re working properly. High-limit sensors are designed to shut down the fryer if temperatures exceed 400 degrees, so readings need to be correct. Malfunctions with both the thermostat and sensor create an extreme risk for fire.
  • Change fryer oil at least once weekly, depending on your restaurant’s volume and oil management system
  • Maintain an ideal frying temperature of between 325°F and 350°F to ensure proper cooking
  • Refrain from overfilling the fryer and basket with food
  • Filter oil regularly — according to the manufacturer’s instructions for your fryer and/or filtering machine
  • Calibrate the fryer based on the manufacturer’s recommendation

No matter if your fryer is the workhorse of your kitchen or only cranked up a few times per week, taking care of your oil is key for peak performance. Filtering oil and keeping your fryer clean is imperative to maintaining quality flavor to your food. Depending on your operation, oil may only need filtering daily, but some kitchens require more.

Filtering prevents food particles from burning and ruining your oil. Fryer filters can also help extend the lifespan of your oil by allowing you to keep oil twice as long; saving your operation money in the long run. Regular oil filtering and replacement is critical to the quality of your food. Use the oil color as an indicator of its health. Typically, oil is clear with a yellowish tint. Once it gets darker or loses its transparency, it’s time to filter. In some, more advanced commercial fryers, there are automatic oil detection and testing components that trigger a notification when it is time for maintenance. Cover fryer vats when not in use to preserve oil integrity.

Proper personal protective equipment or PPE is always recommended for cleaning and filtering when using a filter cone. It’s important to note that filtering needs to be done while the oil is still hot to avoid coagulation. When manually removing oil, connect a drain valve extension and slowly open to avoid burns from hot oil.

Once you’ve emptied the fryer, to clean the frypot:

  1. Find the thermostat probes within the frypot. Be mindful of their locations and be gentle when cleaning around them as they can be fragile.
  2. Scrub any leftover sediment and debris with a fryer brush.
  3. Close the valve and then cover the burner tubes or elements with hot water. Do not completely fill the frypot and add preferred cleaning agent to water.
  4. Set thermostat to 200 degrees F and boil for 15 to 20 minutes.
  5. Turn off the thermostat and allow water to drain out (into a container or directly into a drain).
  6. Thoroughly rinse the frypot with hot water.
  7. Replace oil and cover tank.

Optional Features

When looking to purchase a new fryer, be sure to understand how some optional features can positively impact your operations. Listed below are a few of the common optional features you may find.

  • Ventless fryers can be beneficial for kitchens without hoods. The built-in hood on the equipment removes harmful gases and fumes without the need for a hood and helps you meet the necessary codes.
  • Built-in filtration systems make the process of filtering your oil easier.
  • Automatic top-off systems are available to save you time by minimizing your need to stop and top off your oil. Oil is automatically added to the frypot to help you keep consistent cooking levels.
  • Basket lifts automatically lift baskets from oil when the timer has stopped. This allows operators to produce consistent product each time and minimizes waste due to user error.
  • Save time with programmable controls. Add recipes to your fryer’s database and cook with the push of a button with pre-programmed temperatures and cook times.
  • Lessen flavor transfer with split-pot fryers. These models have two separate sections for tandem frying.
  • Save money with ENERGY STAR certified fryers. Available in gas or electric, these energy efficient fryers efficiently use energy.

Calibration and Boiling Point based on Elevation

It’s standard for most manufacturers to calibrate their equipment to sea-level altitudes. It’s important to note that without the proper adjustments, altitude can impact your culinary creations. To ensure that foods are cooking properly, the temperature must be lowered when frying at higher altitudes. A good rule of thumb is that frying temperatures should be lowered about 3 degrees F for each 1,000 feet increment of elevation. An example would be if your recipe calls for a menu item to be cooked at 375F, at a location 5,000 feet above sea-level, the temperature would need to be lowered to 360F.

Beginner Fryer Terminology

Battery - Sold as a single unit, this series of fryers (typically two or more) share their power source (gas or electric connection) and a filtration system.

Boil-Out – A popular method used to clean a commercial fryer by boiling water and cleaning solution in an empty frypot.

Burner – The component of a gas fryer that produces heat.

Cold Zone – The cold zone can be found at the bottom of frypots below the burners or in a designated designed area. This area is where food particles or sediment that falls off food sinks to. Contrary to what the name suggests, the oil is still hot, just not hot enough to burn sediment and taint the oil. Shapes and sizes of cold zones vary based on fryer type.

Flue - Located towards the back of a fryer, the flue is where excess heat and fumes are released from the equipment and travel up to the exhaust hood. It’s important to note that flues are only found on gas fryers.

Frypot – Typically referred to as the tank or vat, the frypot holds the oil and is where the foods are fried.

Recovery – Refers to the length of time it takes for the oil temperature to rise back to set temperature after frozen or cold food has been dropped in.

Sediment - Small remnants / crumbs that fall off of food cooking in a fryer; oftentimes breading.

Do you have additional questions, or want to receive a quote on one of our fryers? We can help.

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