The frying game: Why you need to filter cooking oil

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There are various products in the market that claim to help foodservice operators reduce their oil costs, but oil filtration systems that are designed for use in gas and electric fryers still offer the most compelling ROI argument. It’s all about understanding how the technology works, writes Rob Frank, managing director of Vito.

Foodservice equipment buyers will be all too aware of the headlines that surround fried foods and their associated health risks. With this topic very much at the forefront of the healthy eating agenda right now, operators committed to providing their customers with the best possible product have a duty to specify the correct equipment.

One area that is critical to this topic, especially in operations where there is a high use of commercial fryers, is oil filtration. But before considering anything, it is useful to understand the value of oil filtering and the important part it has to play in a commercial kitchen environment.

Firstly, filtering is required to keep oil clean, which in turn results in healthier, better tasting fried food which visually looks more appetising to the customer. Additionally, filtering extends the life of the oil, which in the longer term offers significant savings on oil costs and lower maintenance time. Understanding the science behind filtering helps give context to the role that it performs.

Filtration is a separation technique that is used to separate a solid that has not dissolved in a liquid. A filter paper is used and the particles and liquid are placed into the filter paper. The liquid in the container, which is called the filtrate, flows through the filter paper, while the solid or ‘residue’ as it is called remains in the filter paper. Other products available using separation of the solids in the oil will do nothing to stop the solids burning and turning to carbon deposits.

What sets the Vito product apart from others on the market is that it is a ‘filter’ system. The range, which is sold into more than 120 countries, is manufactured in Germany, where Vito operates a worldwide head office and extensive testing facilities (pictured above).

There are suggestions that other products on the market claim to double the life of cooking oil, but how can this be achieved without the forgone process being done?

Oil cannot be used for frying to high standards if it contains sediment and floating or suspended particles, as the particles are the main factor in food discolouration and bad tasting fried products. That’s why the proper filtration mechanism is needed to ensure that staff working in the kitchen get the best out of the frying equipment that has been specified.

A proper filtration mechanism is needed to ensure kitchen staff get the best out of the frying equipment that has been specified”

When oil has been used, even for one service session, it should be filtered before the next session. This can only be achieved by filtering in the fryer as it is impractical to remove oil from the fryer when hot. Only filtering will keep the oil clean. Vito’s product, for instance, achieves this process in four minutes per fryer tank using a 5 micron filter, which is the finest you can filter down to.

Unlike other products on the market, Vito will filtrate multiple fryers using one filter for between four and six filtration cycles. Even if the oil life could be doubled by a miraculous treatment, you can’t fry food successfully in dirty oil. The main factor apart from filtering is the total polar material or ‘TPM’.

Only taking the TPM will determine the life of the oil. This can be measured by a Vito oil tester, which operates a simple traffic light system on the display screen that tells the chef exactly when to change the oil, leaving nothing to chance. It is important to have this feature as when oil is filtered regularly it is not visually apparent when it is at the end of its life. Most kitchens throw the oil away far before the end of its life by visual appearance. They take the view that if it looks dirty, it should be changed.

The Vito product is a more practical way of extending the life of the oil and can save most users 50% of their oil cost,making it a real time- and money-saving system that pays for itself.

The Marriott hotel chain is one example of a group that has seen the benefits of using the system. Its property at London Heathrow claims the machine paid for itself in just eight months after saving the company £4,000 on oil and an extra £1,000 on labour costs due to not having to drain or clean the fryers.

If you really want to increase profits and give customers fresh-tasting and clean-looking food, as well as maintain the frying equipment that you have invested in, the answer is quite simply to filter and test it.

Doing the sums

An oil filtration system such as the one offered by Vito can purport to save operators up to 50% of their oil costs. But how much does the system cost?

Here’s a quick rundown as far as Vito is concerned.

Product    Ideal for                                                                                  Price
Vito 30       Suitable for ‘Autofry’ and table-top fryers up to 10 litres    £1,275
Vito 50       All freestanding fryers up to 20 litres                                      £1,900
Vito 80      All freestanding fryers up to 40 litres                                       £2,295
Vito X1      All fryers from 20-80 litres and heavily used fryers              £4,750

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