Food and oil quality should be the most important aspect of a restaurant operator’s frying operation. Lots of factors play a role in maintaining optimal food and quality through an operation’s SOPs, best practices, and procedures, but most of the causes of actual oil degradation and how to mitigate them are still mostly unknown to both team members and operators. To better understand the causes of oil degradation and how to mitigate them, lets take a look at six primary culprits of oil degradation or “Enemies of Oil.”

Carbon:  Carbon is one of the primary Enemies of Oil and is caused by sediment from fried food remaining in the oil for extended periods of time as it continues to cook. Carbon accumulates on the heat coils, heat tubes, and surfaces of the fry vat, chemically reacting with the oil and degrading it quickly. When carbon accumulates on the fryer’s heat sources and thermocouple sensor, it becomes an insulated barrier causing the fryer to use more energy to maintain temperature, while drastically reducing recovery time. Ways to mitigate carbon are: Do NOT bread product directly over the fryer. Skim the oil constantly to remove floating crumbs and sediment. Filter the oil (at least once daily) through a lower micron passive filter media such as Masterfil®. Keeping the fryers clean and boiled out regularly with OSG Boil Out Pods will also prevent carbon build up and accumulation.

Water:  Actually referred to as “hydrolysis”, water has a significant impact on oil quality and useful life. Certain fried products such as fresh cut fries, frost crystals on freezer-to-fryer products, onions, and wet batters consist of lots of water and will contribute to hydrolysis, reducing the oil’s useful life. Not a lot can be done to prevent this aspect, other than to ensure as much water as possible is drained or shaken off  the products prior to dropping them in the fryer. Another example of  hydrolysis occuring is when excess water is left in a fry pot after boil out/cleaning or after a filter machine has been cleaned. Be sure to thoroughly dry all surfaces that come in contact with oil after Boil-Outs.

Air: Air accelerates  the oxidation process of oil, causing it to degrade. Oil is constantly exposed to ambient air, as well as the air from HVAC, and makeup air from hood. When fryers are not in use, it is important to ensure all fryers are covered with their respective covers or covered with a sheet pan to protect the oil from air.

Soap/Degreaser:  Soap and degreasers are surfactants, and leave a filmy residue after cleaning fry vats, filter machines, or any component that comes in contact with the oil. When a surfactant interacts and reacts to frying oil, a frothy foam is created, causing the oil to degrade and produce poor quality fried products by adversely affecting their taste. When cleaning with a surfactant, ensure all surfaces are thoroughly rinsed and neutralized with white vinegar.

Salt:  Chemically reacts to oil, causing it’s smoke point to quickly lower and the oil to turn dark. Do not season or salt fried product directly over the fryer or prior to those products being fried. Season/salt the products AFTER they have finished cooking.

Heat:  Aside from carbon, heat is one of the primary enemies of oil. Heat causes the oil to very quickly undergo a series of chemical reactions such as polymerization, oxidation, and hydrolysis. This quick chemical reaction causes the oil to rapidly degrade and breakdown. The ideal frying temperature for most oils is 350F. Temperatures in excess of 350F will cause the oil to burn up/degrade in a very short amount of time. Ensure that all fryer thermostats are properly calibrated within their manufacturer’s specs to ensure that the actual oil temp is in range of the fryer’s desired setpoint temperature. Check the oil temps often to ensure they are within the normal operating temperature range and NOT set too high.  These steps will go a long way to ensure maximum oil life.

Understanding what the Enemies of Oil are and how to mitigate them will optimize food and oil quality, while getting additional oil life out of the oil. For more information, please call us at 888-459-2112.