© Denzil Green
Deep-Fat Fryers are cooking vessels designed for the frying of foods in several inches or more of hot oil.
Almost all are powered by electricity now.
The frying range is generally between 325 to 375 F (160 to 190 C.) It is best to use fats such as peanut oil or beef tallow, which have very high smoke points. Oils such as sunflower oil have low smoke points; when heated to high, at best they will give the food a burnt taste; worst case scenario they may burst into flame.
There are also Pressure Fryers; see separate entry.
Home-use Deep Fat Fryers
There are stove-top ones, that come with frying baskets with handles on them. See entry on Chip Pans for these.
People tend to be as or more afraid of Deep-Fat Fryers in the home than pressure cookers, even experienced foodies. About pressure cookers, people hear the stories of the cheaply-made American ones in the 1940s that exploded and pasted someone’s dinner on the kitchen ceiling; about Deep-Fat Fryers, they hear the stories of entire houses burning down.
All electric fryers will come with a basket that fits the inside perfectly.
Some modern electric Deep Fat Fryers will cut off heat if the oil gets too high above a safe range. But they also have thermostats, that can keep the oil within 4 F / 2 C of the desired temperature range, to help avoid that in the first place. Some have a timer, with an alarm to let you know when the food being fried is done. Other features now include ventilation to avoid oil smells getting into the air and built-in filters. One odd feature about them that people comment on is that the electric cords tend to be quite short. No is quite sure why; some speculate that it’s a safety reason, so that long cords can’t be tripped over, etc.
Insulation in some models around the fry pot can help to both reduce energy consumption, and make the device safer (cooler to the touch.) In an ideal world, all parts (save understandably the control and heating element) can go in the dishwasher.
Fat-free Home-use Deep Fat Fryers
Consumer versions of these were introduced September 2010 by Philips with their AirFryer model.
They are not actually fat-free; they use a miniscule amount of oil, like half a teaspoon. The machine uses a grill along with a fan that circulates heat up to 390 F / 200c. The food goes under the grill and fan, in a basket. The AirFryer can do up to 1 1/2 pounds (700g) of frozen French Fries at one go. It takes about 12 minutes for French Fries made from raw potatoes.
As of 2010, these fryers are selling between £120 and £200.
Commercial ones such as the Fry Wizard are made by ANG Products.
Commercial Deep Fat Fryers
Almost all Commercial Deep Fat Fryers are electric, though you can get gas models.
Countertop restaurant ones can hold 15 to 40 pounds of shortening; floor-mounted ones have a larger capacity, holding 35 to 80 pounds of shortening, and they can put out 50,000 to 150,000 BTU of heat. Most commercial ones are floor-mounted.
Commercial ones can use a lot of energy, as they have to run non-stop during open hours. Electric ones are more energy efficient, but gas ones heat up faster, and can get hotter. Fryers with elements immersed in the oil are the most energy efficient.
Some commercial fryers have a low-heat zone or “cool zone” at the bottom, to help prevent burning of detritus which flakes off during the frying. This is usually achieved by suspending the element mid-way up in the fat.
Some commercial ones have built-in filtering systems to remove debris from the oil. Oils used commercially now have additives that also extend the frying life of the oil.
Industrially, Deep Fat Fryers are used in factories to make snack-foods, pre-fried frozen foods, etc.
Fryers can take a long time to cool down. Allow for this in your planning for cleanup.
For very occasional frying a regular pot, or a wok, and a slotted spoon are fine
Don’t fill an electric fryer more than half full of oil, for safety.
The fat needs to be hot for minimal fat absorption into the food. If the fat is too cool, too much grease will be absorbed.
Never attempt to put out an oil fire with water; it will make the fire worse. Instead, if you can do so safely, disconnect the power and put the lid on, and leave the lid on for 30 minutes.
Collins, Nick. The no-fat fryer that cooks chips with hot air. London: Telegraph. 10 September 2010.
Sales of deep fat fryers increase. London: Daily Telegraph. 4 April 2010.