It’s no surprise that many operators struggle with how to maintain food quality in a restaurant. A lot of it comes down to your fryer oil!
In the restaurant industry, we call a 35 lb. container of bulk cooking oil a “jug-in-box” or “JIB” for short. Not surprisingly, just like everything else restaurants are paying more for these days, JIBs have increased in price too. How much? Depending on what type of cooking oil you purchase, a JIB will now run you as much as four times what you paid in 2019. So, today you’ll pay between $40 and $100 for a JIB of cooking oil and that’s wholesale pricing.
Increasing costs associated with fry oil and inflation in general are important reasons to make sure you’re prioritizing keeping your commercial fryer in tiptop condition. Doing so will not only ensure you continue to dish up quality menu items that delight your customers, but it will also help manage costs and prioritize profits.
To help, I’ve identified three tips that will keep your commercial deep fryer operating in peak condition.
1. Resist the Temptation to Cut Corners
With cooking oil prices spiking, some operators may be tempted to keep their fry oil longer than they should. They may rationalize, asking themselves, “What’s another day or two, or even a week going to hurt?” Well, that’s a bad idea and for a few reasons.
Not only will your food not taste as good, oftentimes taking on a burnt flavor and smell, reusing old oil can open the door to bacterial buildup and well, that’s not good for your customers’ health or your restaurant’s reputation. But, there’s a solution.
Filter, Filter, Filter
Routine filtering of your vats is the single most important thing you can do to ensure the quality, taste, and consistency of your food. That means the first person that you serve gets the same great tasting meal as the last person you serve.
Some commercial fryers are equipped with built-in oil filtration systems, like Henny Penny’s, which come standard on every open and pressure fryer. Not only does the automatic system reduce the manual effort associated with filtering, but it extends oil life, translating into thousands of dollars in annual savings.
How often you should be filtering is dependent on what you’re frying, how much you’re frying, and how old your oil is. This free Filter Frequency Calculator will help you determine the ideal filtration frequency for your restaurant.
Because time is money in the restaurant business, when you’re filtering your vats, you’re not frying product in them. Luckily, some fryers on the market like the Evolution Elite allow for filtering by individual vats, so you can filter one vat while frying in others. And, because it’s a low-volume oil fryer, it filters completely in less than 4 minutes, so you’re able to get back to frying even faster.
2. Clean Up Your Act (or, at least your fryer’s)
I don’t need to list all the reasons and benefits associated with routinely cleaning your commercial fryer, but I can tell you what could happen if you don’t. I read a news article recently about a restaurant fire and the investigation determined the fire started in a deep fryer-vent due to lack of cleaning of the commercial cooking equipment.
No operator expects this will happen at their restaurant and it likely won’t if they adhere to a daily cleaning regimen and a deep cleaning schedule every few weeks.
Commercial Fryer Cleaners – Choose Wisely
When it comes to choosing a commercial fryer cleaner, it’s important to remember they’re not all equal. No one knows that better than Bill Sparks, VP of Operations and Franchise Sales for Lee’s Famous Recipe Chicken who agreed to ask his franchise owners to test Henny Penny’s Prime Cleaner against their current product.
The side-by-side tests were planned for one month, but within a week, Bill said he started getting feedback from owners, commenting that the difference was like night and day. Sparks said the following:
“Our owners have 21-year-old fry pots looking like they’re brand new. Plus, they’re saving time on each clean-out, since you don’t need to neutralize with a vinegar solution.”
Bill SparksVP of Operations and Franchise Sales
You can learn more about the franchise’s experience and plans to equip every new store with Henny Penny fryers by clicking here.
3. Work Smarter. Not Harder
Another way your commercial fryer can help maintain food quality is by ensuring recipe consistency. The digital age we live in comes with advantages and one of those is some commercial fryers are now equipped with advanced controls that allow operators to choose from a selection of preprogrammed recipes or simply program in their own recipes.
In my job, I spend a lot of time working with restaurant brands, getting their programs just right for their proprietary processes. With Henny Penny fryers, we have the ability to change cooking perimeters.
For example, a restaurant might have a recipe program that starts at 330 degrees and for the second stage, the temperature goes down to 320 degrees, and then, up to 340 degrees. What they’re doing is creating a product that you can only get from them. They’re creating a texture and taste at the end of the cooking cycle that nobody else can copy or repeat.
Want some tips on how to refine your frying program? This free download includes the top five frying mistakes and what you can do about them.
Your Fryer’s Best Friend – A Heated Holding Cabinet
Finally, want to know the “secret” to keeping your food fry-fresh for hours after it leaves the fryer? Using a heated holding cabinet in conjunction with your fryer can extend food life without sacrificing quality. Think about it.
Whenever you’re using your fryer by itself, you have to wait 10 to 12 minutes before you can place more chicken in there. But if you’re taking that same chicken and cooking it ahead of time for 6 minutes and then putting it in the heated holding cabinet at 185 degrees with 15 percent humidity, you’re able to hold that product for 2 hours!
Then all you have to do is flash it inside the fryer for a minute or minute and a half, and you’ll have a product that’s crispy on the inside yet juicier on the inside because it wasn’t cooked in the fryer for 10-12 minutes.