Test Your Knowledge of Fryers

Mastering six critical information areas can help foodservice professionals increase their ability to purchase, specify or sell fryers. Here's a 'pop' quiz to help you test your knowledge of this product' category's key features.

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The fact is, fried foods taste great. That's why fryers are responsible for preparing over half the menu items sold in fast-food operations and a fair chunk of any menu elsewhere -especially in the United States.

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With this critical piece of hardware, all systems must be at 100% "go" status during operational hours. Fryers are the one piece of equipment that cannot be short-changed due to tight budgets. So, as an exceptional foodservice professional, it is your job to know six major areas of information when selling fryers to your valued customers. Those areas include:

  • The Fryer Necessity
  • Safety Issues
  • Cooking Issues and Oil
  • Cleaning Issues and Filtering
  • Standard versus Optional Features and Controls
  • Types of Fryers and When to Use Them (Tube vs. Open-Pot designs)

To make sure you're up to snuff on this information, I've taken the liberty of preparing this questionnaire for you to fill out. Results will help you gauge your degree of fryer knowledge, so no peeking at the answers first:

The Fryer Necessity

QUESTION 1: Fryers are just for french fries and are low-profit centers for operators.

___ A. True ___ B. False

ANSWER: False.

Fryers are ideal for high-volume operations serving fries, chicken, fish and other breaded products, including vegetables.

Fryers aren't cheap, but a $13,000 system can have a pretty fast ROI (Return on Investment). Selling 70 bags of fries a day is not much volume for an operator. Yet, at 50 cents per pound and a 2.5-oz. serving, the cost per bag is about 16 cents. A small bag of fries sells for what - 99 cents? So a margin of 83 cents times 70 = $58 a day profit. Thus, the cost of replacing an old unit would be returned in a little over seven months ... and less if you deduct expected repairs. Customize and run the numbers for your customers!

Safety Issues

QUESTION 2: Which is cheaper — a used twin fryer with dump station and old filtration system that an end-user buys on Discount Avenue for $1,200 or a new system, including electronic ignition and solid-state controls, (list price less "reality mark-down") for $6,000?

___ A. "Back alley" special ___ B. New system ___ C. Ask your lawyer

ANSWER: Ask your lawyer.

In one foodservice study, thermal burns account for about 12% of all work-related injuries. Between Workers' Compensation cases and lawsuits, not to mention the pain and suffering that employees could be subjected to, it is a no-brainer to invest in fryers whatever it takes to meet the highest safety standards in kitchen operations.

There are abundant safety procedure sources for the "do's and don'ts" in a commercial kitchen, and training by a DSR is a must. DSRs, with the support of factory reps, need to go through the extensive exercise of making sure all employees are thoroughly trained before they operate a new fryer.

With fryers, flue temperatures will reach 900 °F. to 1,200 °F. and hot oil temperatures are normally around 350 °F. No one should touch a fryer without proper training. No one should empty out a fryer filter without making sure the path to the disposal area is dry and all clear. No one should ever stand above or play around with a hot fryer. Get the picture?

Cooking Issues And Oil

QUESTION 3: Which of the following is NOT a form of shortening?

___ A. Soybean oil ___ B. Palm oil ___ C. Animal fats ___ D. ANYTHING that has high moisture content ___ E. All the above except the high moisture choice

ANSWER: Here's a gimme — E.

Shortening is a food ... either a type of animal fat or vegetable oil. Fryer shortening is the medium that transmits the heat from the source to the food and becomes a part of fried products. These foods may contain from 7% to over 35% shortening based on the characteristics of the food and the frying conditions. It is important to remember that if the temperature of the fat is too low, unit staff are prone to leave cooking products in it too long while waiting for the food to brown. If the fat is too hot, the surface of the food browns before the interior is cooked. This happens most frequently when frozen foods are placed in excessively hot fat.

With frying foods, the single most important point to remember is that the quality of the shortening is critical. If it is not filtered regularly - at least once a day - end-users are assured of a substantial food quality fall-off and a very short oil life. Filtering alone will extend the oil life one to three days longer then normal. This leads to the next issue ...

Cleaning Issues And Filtering

QUESTION 4: Cleaning fryers is a rewarding experience

___ A. Yes, it's right up there. ___ B. It sure beats unemployment. ___ C. It's the filthiest job in the operation.

ANSWER: B. (If for some reason an operation doesn't have restrooms, the answer is C.)

While the daily cleaning procedure will not make anyone's "Top 10 Fun Things to Do" list, it is a necessity. For one, it's a huge money saver. What's more, foods taste much better, there will be less chance of flavor (like fish) transfer to other food products and the color of products will be better.

Operators need a set of instructions on the proper cleaning procedures and a daily log of activities to ensure food quality and safety. All factory operating manuals, user guides and web sites should include these critical steps.

Standard Versus Optional Features And Controls

QUESTION 5: Under most conditions in a medium-to-high fryer-usage establishment, which features and controls should be included in a new battery of fryer equipment?

___ A. Electronic Ignition ___ B. Built-in Filter ___ C. Stainless-Steel Fry Pot ___ D. Auto-Melt Cycle ___ E. Solid-State Electronic Timer Controller ___ F. Vat Covers, Casters, Quick-Disconnect Accessories ___ G. All of the Above

ANSWER: Of course, it is G.

These features are only considered "options" by those operators that don't understand total costs. In most cases, these choices should never even be called options. Without a filter, end-users will own a mega-mess. Cleaning simply won't be done. A stainless-steel fry pot is now standard from many fryer companies and probably should be with the rest. With fry pot "leaks" being one of the biggest warranty items, stainless steel eliminates about 80% of this type of service call.

Electronic controls are highly recommended. Do your customers really want to trust their labor to know exactly when baskets should be lifted out of a fryer? Electronic controllers take into account "rubber" or "stretch" time that allows product mass, temperatures, and moisture content to be factored in.

Types Of Fryers And When To Use Each One

QUESTION 6: Which gas fryer is better ... Tube-Type Design or Open-Pot Design?

___ A. Tube Design ___ B. Open-Pot Design ___ C. Both are excellent, with each having advantages.

ANSWER: C.

There are pros and cons with both tube and open-vat fryers. If your customer is only making fries, then the open-vat design is probably the best. For more breaded or battered food products, such as onion blossoms, then the tube design probably offers a better option. There are distinct advantages with an open-pot fryer, however. For one, they contain about 60% less weld locations than in tube pots. "Weld spots" are key suspect points for future pot leaks. Tube pots are also much more difficult to clean, with the tubes blocking easy access to the base of the fry pot. Tube fryers arguably also have a better means of transferring energy and are very efficient.

OK ...pencils down. How did you do? Add up your correct answers and score yourself:

  • 5 or 6 correct: A CFSP.
  • 4 to 5 correct: Need to read your FE&S and other trade press more carefully and ask your boss if you can go to a supplier cooking school!
  • 3 or less correct: Stay away from foodservice operations except as a hungry consumer.
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