Deep fat fryers have a reputation as one of the workhorses of the kitchen and with almost no moving parts, the associated maintenance costs are said to be minimal compared to other commercial appliances. But it is important to get the specification correct from the start. Nick Pendlebury, managing director of Pantheon Catering Equipment, gives his seven tips for choosing the right fryer.
1) Plan of action
Decide what you will be using your fryer for — both immediately and in the future — to determine what size and configuration you need.
2) Economy matters
If you are only going to offer fried foods occasionally or only have a small amount of fried foods on your menu, you won’t need a large model so stick to your guns and don’t get swayed by an over-eager sales person.
3) Flexible capacity
If your business commonly experiences both quiet and busy periods, choose a twin tank fryer so that you have the option of using just one tank when that’s all you need, thereby halving your bills.
4) Product variety
Two separate tanks have the added advantage of being able to offer completely different fried products without the danger of flavour transference.
5) Ease of operation
Make sure the fryer you choose is easy to use — especially if it will be operated by different members of staff. They are far more likely to use it properly if it’s not complicated. Mistakes can be costly or even dangerous!
6) Safety first
You should only look at models with temperature gauges and safety cut-outs.
7) Quick to clean
Choose a fryer that is easy to drain and clean as regularly changing oil and cleaning out are fundamental to maintaining good quality results. Also, old oil can be dangerous in that it has a reduced flash point and is more prone to surge boiling.
Gas or electric power?
When it comes to fryers, there is no clear answer to which is better out of gas or electric, according to catering equipment trade body CESA, which notes that both have their own distinctive advantages. On its website, it suggests that the general rule of thumb is that electric fryers are cheaper to buy and suitable for low to medium volume needs.
CESA writes: “If the kitchen is churning out high volumes of fried product, particularly chips, then gas-powered fryers may be dearer to buy, but will cheaper to run. However, there have been advances in the technology of electric fryers and the operation cost and performance between gas and electric can be negligible. Servicing costs on gas fryers may be slightly more expensive because of the need to check the gas system.”
It adds: “If the inclination is towards gas fired fryers; there are three heating systems with no clear choice on which is the best option. Tube burners have wide tubes running across the lower inside of the fry tank. Inside the tubes are gas jets which transfer the heat into the oil through the tube wall. The second gas system is to have a big bank of gas jets concentrated on the exterior of the fry tank while the third, is a system using infra-red heaters, which give a high output of heat.”