When purchasing a pressure fryer, operators first should determine how much food they intend to produce per batch. Capacities, which are not related to the amount of food being fried but the quantity of oil being used, range between 48 pounds and 75 pounds.
The amount of product that a unit can fry in one batch is about a quarter of the unit’s oil capacity. Those specializing in fried chicken will want a standard-size fryer with a 50-pound oil capacity. This can cook 12 or more pounds of chicken at a time in about 10 minutes. For those with higher-volume needs, extra-large pressure fryers produce as much as 18 pounds per batch.
If the operation is preparing menu items with different recipes or multiple products, consider whether two fryers would be a better choice. Overloading pressure fryers lowers the oil temperature, which slows down cooking and can lead to lower-quality products.
As with regular fryers, pressure fryers are built with “cold zones” that collect excess breading and sediment to keep these from burning. Unlike the handled rectangular baskets that come standard with most traditional fryers, pressure fryer baskets are often round and designed to be submerged fully in the oil. Oil can be filtered either manually by staff or automatically with a built-in system. Low oil levels can cause fryers to overheat, potentially burning food and damaging equipment.
Pressure fryer controls are either manual or digital. While manual controls utilize a temperature dial and timer, digital units can cook at a set temperature for a specific amount of time. This type also creates custom cooking programs for different menu items that can be stored for added consistency and easy preparation.
Today’s pressure fryers operate at a relatively low pressure of around 12 psi. Built-in safety features, such as high temperature limits and high-pressure valves that prevent pressure from building, are standard.
Pressure fryer accessories include extra baskets, sturdy brushes to remove sediment or grease during cleaning, filtration systems, shortening disposal units or wheeled containers for collecting and transporting oil, and a pump-powered nozzle to pump grease into the disposal container.