Deep-Frying: Info & Tips
Today, we know about the cholesterol in animal fats and are using more healthful vegetable oils, with high smoke points like canola, to fry our foods. Most people consider deep frying a high fat cooking method and while it does yield tasty results, it is usually considered as occasional cooking methods, for special meals.
Elaine Magee, a Registered Dietitian, has written over 25 books on nutrition and healthy cooking. She has recently written "Fry Light, Fry Right!", a "recipe makeover" cookbook that takes our favorite fried foods and shows us how to cut some of the bad stuff without losing the the flavor or texture. The techniques are simple, usually requiring little more than a hot oven or pan, a small amount of canola oil and other readily available ingredients. Check out Elaine's book at her recipe doctor website.
Healthy food isn't going to do anyone any good if no one is eating it. It has to taste great!
Elaine Magee, Registered Dietitian
Deep Frying Tips
- It is important to deep fry at the proper temperature to ensure food cooks properly and doesn't absorb too much oil.
- Maintain a frying temperature of 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). A batter-coated or breaded surface will quickly form a protective shield, preventing the oil from penetrating the cooled food and making it greasy. The food will cook by conduction or indirect heat.
- If the oil is not hot enough, oil will reach the food before the coating cooks enough to form the protective layer. The result - greasy food.
- If the oil is too hot, the coating will burn from the direct heat of the oil before the food has had time to cook.
- Avoid adding salt to food before deep frying. The salt draws moisture to the food's surface, which will splatter when the food is added to the hot oil. Salt also lowers the smoke point and breaks down the oil more quickly. If required, salt can be added just before eating.
- Fry vegetable foods, like potato chips, while they are still frozen to limit the fat absorption.
- Avoid crowding the deep fryer with food as it will lower the oil's temperature, causing the food to take longer to cook.
- Preheat the oil to about 15 degrees F (7 to 8 degrees C) higher than its optimal deep frying temperature, allowing the oil to return to its 'ideal' temperature once cold food is added to be cooked.
Storing used oil
- When the oil has cooled enough that it is safe to handle, strain it through paper towels, coffee filters or cheesecloth into its original empty container or a clean, glass jar. Do not mix it with unused oil.
- Store the oil, tightly sealed, in a cool, dark place or in the refrigerator.
It's time for an oil change...
- When loose particles accumulate as sediment at the bottom of the storage container or are suspended in the oil.
- When smoke appears on the oil's surface before the temperature reaches 375 degrees F (190 degrees C), your oil will no longer deep fry effectively.
- When the oil has a rancid or "off" smell or if it smells like the foods you've cooked in it. The oil should be discarded.
Facts about Smoke Point!
The smoke point of an oil is the temperature at which the oil begins to smoke and smells off. Canola oil has a high smoke point 468 degrees F (242 degrees C). Each time you deep fry with an oil, you lower its smoke point irreversibly. If your oil's smoke point is just above 375 degrees F (190 degrees C), which is the normal deep frying temperature, chances are its smoke point will drop below 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) after its first use. Click Here to compare Canola Oil's smoke point to other cooking oils.