A Guide to Buying a Commercial Fryer

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A Guide to Buying a Commercial Fryer

Fresh, hot chips and crunchy crisps are popular side dishes in almost any restaurant. Additional foods that may be prepared in a commercial fryer include doughnuts, cheese sticks, onion rings, croquettes, and fried chicken.

Having a commercial fryer on the premises is essential to being able to provide delicious fried foods. While small batches of fried foods can be made at home on the stove, this method is neither safe nor practical for cooking large quantities of the same items in a fast-paced restaurant kitchen. A fryer can hold 40 kilograms or more of oil and a huge amount of food items. The fryer is also kept separate from grills and other cooking surfaces so that the operator can focus on ideal timing and safety.

Because fryers are a significant financial investment, buyers should take their time learning about different fryer options before committing to a purchase. There are several factors to consider before making a decision on a fryer. Buyers should know what type of power source they have available to heat the fryer oil. They should also know what types of foods are going to be cooked in such a fryer and what type of oil is going to be used, as this information may dictate the choice of commercial fryer.

Types of Commercial Fryers

There are three basic configurations for commercial fryers: open-pot, tube, and flat-bottom. These fryers generally look quite similar from the top, but the design and mechanisms present at the bottom are what distinguish them from one another.

Open-Pot Fryers

An open-pot fryer is a good all-purpose fryer that is relatively easy to clean. This type of fryer is ideal for cooking basic appetisers and sides such as chips and small chicken wings. Because the sediment zone is limited, this type of fryer cannot handle heavily breaded items without quickly becoming clogged with food particles.

Tube Fryers

Unlike open-pot fryers, tube fryers can accommodate a great deal of sediment, so it is easier to cook items that are heavily breaded, such as large chicken pieces and fish. Because the heating tubes are raised off the floor of the tank, the area at the very bottom is cooler. This keeps heavy sediment from burning and affecting the oil and the foods being fried in it. However, these fryers are a bit more difficult to clean out because of the tubes at the bottom of the fryer, as well as the tendency for the types of foods cooked in such a fryer to leave more sediment.

Flat-Bottom Fryers

A flat-bottom fryer does not have any built-in mechanism for keeping sediment separated from cooking foods. The particles settle to the bottom through gravity, although they can be stirred up by lifting and replacing baskets during cooking. This type of fryer is best for cooking lightweight foods that tend to float at the top, thereby reducing the chances of sediment contacting the food. A flat-bottom fryer is also good for tempura, since the liquid batter releases fewer particles than crumby breaded mixtures. Funnel cake is another good example of a food that is ideal for a flat-bottom commercial fryer.

Commercial Fryer Power Sources

Most commercial fryers fall into one of two groups and are categorised according to power source. There are actually two types of gas fryers: open and tube designs. Gas-tube fryers function like electric fryers. Each type of equipment has its benefits and drawbacks.

Electric and Gas-Tube Fryers

Electric and gas-tube fryers have a large sediment zone at the bottom of the vat. The heating elements are located inside the cooking area, which allows the oil temperature to reach its maximum quicker than in designs where the entire container must be warmed up.

Gas Fryers

Gas fryers generally follow an open design, where the heating elements are outside the container. This makes the fryer easier to clean. The narrower cold zone at the bottom is better at keeping waste away from the frying foods. However, gas fryers may take more energy to heat the oil and keep it heated, since the heat source is external and the element has to work harder to heat up the oil to the appropriate temperature.

About Frying Oils

Many buyers might not consider the type of frying oil when shopping for a commercial fryer, but this is an important decision to make in advance of a fryer purchase. The oil affects the long-term costs of running the fryer, as well as the taste of the food.

Type of Oil

Smoking Point in Degrees Celsius

Health Impact

Canola

242

Polyunsaturated fat

Corn

234

Lowers LDL ('bad' cholesterol)

Grape-seed

204

Lowers LDL ('bad' cholesterol)

Nextra

232

Lowers LDL ('bad' cholesterol)

Peanut

243

Polyunsaturated; a common allergen

Safflower

230

Polyunsaturated

Sunflower

242

Polyunsaturated

Vegetable oil is a catch-all term for any number of specific plant oils, including olive, corn, and peanut oils. The smoking and burning points and health effects may differ depending on the type of oil or the ratios in a vegetable oil blend. For these reasons, vegetable oil is not listed in the chart above.

Fryer Accessories

Anyone who purchases a fryer should also look into fryer accessories at the time of purchase, because many of these tools are designed to work with a specific type of fryer. Fryer accessories include hoses and connectors, baskets, filters, and trays. These accessories should be cleaned regularly as part of a maintenance plan.

Fryer Cleaning and Maintenance

Fryers must be cleaned and maintained regularly in order to preserve fresh food flavours as well as to keep the equipment in good working order.

Commercial Fryer Maintenance

Maintenance of a fryer mainly revolves around maintaining the oil quality. The fry cook should keep the oil temperature well below the corresponding smoking point mentioned in the chart above. Burnt oil negatively affects the taste of food and so must be wasted. The oil should also be filtered daily, or perhaps more often if an eatery serves a large volume of fried foods on a regular basis. Even with proper filtering, the oil eventually needs to be changed out and refilled. Dark, rancid oil has exceeded its useful life, so it is important to monitor the oil frequently. Changing oil too often is costly and wasteful, but failing to change it often enough results in unpalatable foods.

Commercial Fryer Cleaning

Keeping the fryer clean is vital to safety, optimal performance, and high-quality food preparation. Some tasks should be performed daily, while other types of cleaning can be performed periodically.

Daily Cleaning

Whenever the frying oil is drained, whether for filtering or for changing, sediment and crumbs should be brushed from the elements on the interior of the vat and off of the walls. At closing time, one removes the baskets and thoroughly washes and dries them before replacing. Also at this time, the user needs to wipe oil from the exterior of the fryer to prevent dangerous drips, which could lead to serious slips.

Periodic Cleaning

Every three to six months, one should perform a thorough cleaning of the deep frier. This includes

  • Draining the oil
  • Adding water and cleaner
  • Heating the solution
  • Scrubbing the inside
  • Soaking the tank
  • Draining the solution
  • Rinsing the vat
  • Refilling with oil

The interval between deep cleanings depends on the amount of use the fryer gets. Moreover, someone should perform an annual inspection of all parts of the fryer and replace worn elements or have the machine serviced if necessary.

Where to Find Commercial Fryers

Commercial fryers are sold by restaurant, kitchen, and catering equipment suppliers. One might also be able to purchase a used fryer from a catering establishment that is either going out of business or simply upgrading its existing equipment. Check classified adverts and online auctions for private sales.

How to Find a Commercial Fryer on eBay

You can easily purchase a reliable commercial fryer on eBay. To do so, start at the homepage and locate the search field. In this box, type a word or phrase describing what you are looking for. You might stay general by entering 'commercial fryer', or you could specify a certain type of fryer by adding more words. Next, click on Search button or hit Enter. You can review the active listings that appear, or you can click on a specific category to narrow down the results.

Another way to shop for commercial fryers (and other items) on eBay is to navigate through the product directory. Simply return to the homepage and click on the link for all categories. Scan the categories and select the one that showed up during the keyword search. Continue to click through the subcategories until you arrive at the commercial fryer you are looking for. Then use the category filters on the page to hone your search further. You can choose to display all active listings that come with free postage, for example, or those that are in your local area so that you can arrange for a pick-up instead of paying for shipping and delivery.

Conclusion

Almost all genres of cuisine offer at least a couple of different fried foods on a typical menu. A dedicated fryer is the safest way to cook large batches of these foods in a short amount of time.

There are a few different considerations to keep in mind when it comes to choosing a fryer. First, remember that there are three basic designs of fryer: open-pot, tube, and flat-bottom. An open-pot fryer is easy to clean but, because it has a small sediment zone, it may need to be cleaned more often if heavy breading is used. The tube-style fryer accommodates more sediment beneath the heating tubes but can be difficult to clean, since the tubes are in the way of reaching the very bottom. A flat-bottom fryer is easy to clean, but because sediment is separated from foods only by gravity, they are best for lightly battered items as opposed to dry, crumby mixtures. One should also keep in mind that the power sources for these designs are often different: open-pot fryers generally are powered by gas, whereas electric fryers are more likely to follow the gas tube design. One can find a variety of commercial-grade fryers at very keen prices on eBay.

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