Thursday, March 8, 2012

Safety When Deep Frying Food.

Yesterday, I talked a little about how to deep fry foods.  Today, I want to cover safety when deep frying.  But I'm going to start with talking more about the fat/oil and how you can extend it's life.

The fat/oil used in restaurants isn't just used for one day and thrown away.  It will generally last from 4 days to maybe two weeks.  There are several factors that come into play on the life cycle of the fat/oil used.  Some of those factors are quality of product, amount of use, filtering of fat/oil and cleaning of fryer equipment.  At home, the storage of the fat/oil comes into play too.

To start, yes, the quality of the product does play a big role in it's life.  Peanut oil (in my option) is the best type of  oil to use when deep frying.  It costs more to buy but, if properly taken care of during use, costs less to use.  That's because it can last longer than cheaper oils when properly used.  The better quality of products used to start relates to a better quality product to eat when done.  I fully believe this to be true.

So we have started with a quality product (fat/oil), filled the fryer properly, heated the fat/oil to the correct range, cooked the food the appropriate amount of time and now have a quality finished product to eat.

But that was just the first time we used the fat/oil.  What happens next?  When we're all done cooking, turn off the heat source because the longer the fat/oil is heated the shorter the life of the product.

Next, let the fat/oil cool to a temperature between 175 and 225 degrees.  This temperature is still hot and you need to be careful handing the fat/oil.  But to filter the fat/oil, we need some heat but want to make it safer for the individual doing the filtering.  The filtering takes food particles out of the fat/oil and other impurities.  This helps prolong the life too.

Now that the fat/oil has been filtered, we need to store it until the next use.  It is best to store the fat (animal fat) in the refrigerator.  The fat will become solid as it cools (even at room temperature) but will not last as long if left out at room temperature.  The oil was liquid before you used it and will remain that way after you use it.  It can be stored at room temperature (it won't hurt to refrigerate it) and last a long time.

However, with either one, you may want to use it up as you do other cooking.  You don't have to wait to deep fry again to use it.  Now the more you use it the more likely it is to pick up flavors from the food you have been deep frying.  So as it ages, you might not want to use the oil in a cake or something.

How long will it last?  That is a total variable because everyone will use it differently.  The fat/oil will take on a rancid taste as one indicators of it going bad.  The fat/oil will darken.  It will foam more in use or smoke and/or smell when heated.  You can get test strips to dip in the fat/oil that helps indicate the need to stop using this fat/oil.  Restaurant supply businesses would have these test strips.

Because we are dealing with a hot fat/oil there are greater chances for accidents and/or injuries.  You when to be extra careful when working with hot grease.  Burns are a major worry but so to are fires.  Remember to have first aid supplies on hand as well as a fire extinguisher for grease fires.  DO NOT USE WATER TO TRY AND PUT OUT A GREASE FIRE!  Baking Soda or salt will work on a grease fire but DO NOT USE FLOUR OR SUGAR.  There are gloves you can buy that make it safer for the clean up too.

Have fun and enjoy deep frying foods while being safe.  Another DON"T for any of you that "deep fry turkeys."  DON'T DO IT IN A BUILDING OF ANY KIND, OUTSIDE ONLY!!

Butterfly Coconut Shrimp is the recipe tomorrow.  Enjoy, be safe and be healthy!

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