Selecting and Maintaining Fat and Oil

Selecting and Maintaining Fat and Oil

Both fats and oils may be used as a cooking medium for deep-frying, although vegetable oil is most commonly used. Fats and oils differ in specific properties such as flavor, color, or smoking point, but they are all basically the same compound. They contain fatty acids, flavor compounds and glycerin. The amount of saturated, monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats in an oil or shortening give it a particular set of characteristics.

For deep-fat frying, the ideal oil is one with a neutral flavor and color and a high smoking point (about 425oF / 218oC). Several practices, in addition to selecting the proper oil, will help prolong the product's life. Follow these steps to get the best from your frying oil :

  • Store oils in a cool, dry area and keep them away from strong lights, which leach vitamin A.

  • Use a high-quality oil.

  • Prevent the oil from coming in contact with copper, brass or bronze because these metals hasten breakdown.

  • When frying moist items, dry them as thoroughly as possible before placing them in the oil because water breaks down the oil and lowers the smoking point.

  • Do not salt products over the pan because salt breaks down the oil.

  • Fry items at the proper temperature. Do not overheat the oil.

  • Turn off the fryer after using it and cover when it is not used for a long periods of time.

  • Constantly remove any small particles (such as loose bits of breading or batter) from the oil during use.

  • Discard the oil if it becomes rancid, smokes below 350oF (176oC), or foams excessively. As oil is used, it will darken. If it is a great deal darker than when it was fresh, it will brown the food too rapidly. The food may appear properly cooked but actually be underdone.

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