Cooking oil prices are skyrocketing. Here’s how to make your oil last longer without serving soggy fries
As the demand for alternatives to petroleum like biofuels increases, so does the demand for the ingredients that make up this fuel, including the price of used cooking oil. If you’re a restaurant owner or manager, you may have noticed that the price of frying oil has skyrocketed over the past year. In fact, it has increased by almost 70% since January 2020.
Even after your restaurant’s frying oil runs out, it still has value. Once again, used cooking oil is driving this boom. Some even call it liquid gold, which sounds good, but for restaurants, it means an increased prevalence of theft. Grease theft is also on the rise, and while it may not seem like a serious crime, it’s an eight-figure black market that makes thieves rich. Some earn up to $1,500 a day from stolen oil. It also means potential property damage and increased risk to restaurant employees.
All of this quickly hurt the bottom line for many restaurants, as cooking oil can account for a large portion of a kitchen’s food costs if it does a lot of frying. This has led kitchens to stretch the oil beyond its reasonable shelf life, which negatively affects the taste of their food. It’s left kitchens in a tough spot: Sacrificing the taste of their food or continuing to tear up high-priced jugs by frequently changing fryer oil?
Nobody wants soggy fries, and we’re here to help. These simple tips will extend the life of your frying oil without affecting the taste and quality of your food.
The Four Things That Cause Restaurant Oil to Go Bad
In order to find safe ways to extend the life of fryer oil, it is important to understand what causes oil to deteriorate. There are four things that cause it to decompose: heat, air, humidity and light. Some of this is inevitable. During frying, food releases moisture which contains oxygen. When oil comes in contact with moisture and oxygen, it oxidizes or breaks down faster. It is a natural by-product of the frying process. Solid food particles and other debris also make the oil less fresh.
Properly handle fryer oil
1. Filter it regularly
Filtration rids your used oil of solid food particles and other debris that have mixed together. Some fryers have built-in filtration systems. If not, this will need to be done manually through a colander or portable filter machine. It’s a necessary process that will save you money on oil costs in the long run.
2. Do not overfill when changing fryer oil
When changing a batch of frying oil, be sure not to overfill it beyond the recommended amount. It must be marked on the fryer. It’s a wasteful and inefficient use of that expensive oil you’re trying to conserve, as a higher oil level means the batch will take longer to reach the proper frying temperature, it also increases the risk of overflow or spillage. Be sure to pour in just the right amount to properly preserve your oil.
3. Train your staff to regularly skim cooking oil
Train your staff to brush the top and sides of your fryer once or twice an hour. It will remove stray food particles from the sides of the fryer, which will keep the oil clean and consistent longer, thus extending its life.
4. Know the smoke point of your oil
Do you remember the desired temperature we referred to earlier? Different types of cooking oil have different smoke points, which is the temperature at which it breaks down. The further the oil exceeds its smoke point temperature, the faster it deteriorates. Make sure you know the smoke point of your oil so you don’t go through batches unnecessarily due to exceeding its temperature threshold.
Proper Fryer Tank Management
The vat is where your oil lives in your fryer. Ensuring the frypot is managed efficiently can have a positive effect on the life of your fryer’s oil.
1. Use Pot Lids Between Frying Cycles
Do you remember these four components that cause oil to break down? It wouldn’t make sense to leave the oil unnecessarily exposed to them, would it? Cover fryer vats between frying cycles. This will limit the number of food-related particles and other debris that get mixed into the batch. It also reduces the oil’s exposure to oxygen, moisture and light, which speeds up the oxidation process.
2. Make a habit of turning off the vats
Turning off the vats when you’re not frying saves energy and preserves oil quality because the oil isn’t heated when it’s not needed.
3. Season fried foods on the side, not above the pan
When you take a new batch of fries or chicken tenders out of your air fryer basket, it can be tempting to go ahead and salt and season it on the spot. Do not do that. Salt accelerates the breakdown of oil and the more solid debris there is in the oil, the faster it deteriorates. Put the food on a plate and season it elsewhere to preserve the quality of the oil.
Don’t overdo it
These practices will most certainly help extend the life of your oil. But don’t be tempted by soaring cooking oil prices. There is a sweet spot when it comes to preserving oil quality and your kitchen’s goal should be to extend that sweet spot rather than just trying to use one batch for as long as possible. . Once the oil has been used up, continuing to fry with it will have a negative effect on the taste, smell and texture of your food.
How do you know when your oil is going bad? Here is a guide.
The price of frying oil is expected to continue to rise in 2022. Being prepared with proactive measures to extend the life of your frying oil helps you reduce costs and improve your bottom line.