The technique of frying is believed to have originated in the Middle East around 2000 years BC, making this an age old method of cooking. Today, deep fat fryers are the versatile cooking appliance of choice for frying and are found in almost all kitchens throughout the world.
Deep fried foods are a favorite with all ages and nationalities, that’s why there is such a range of fryers to choose from. The purchase of a deep fat fryer can offer a whole new range of delicious food to eat, there are even ’low fat fryers’ or ’air fryers’ for the health conscious. A good all round best buy fryer can cost anything from around $50 to well over $100.
Buying a deep fat fryer is not as straightforward as it might seem, there are lots of brands to choose from and also lots of different features too. Regardless of cost, some fryers are difficult to clean and changing the oil can be problematic, though a lot of the new models, especially the air fry models, have incorporated easy cleaning and no fuss oil change into their designs.
Deep Fat Fryers are relatively easy to use with just a thermostatically controlled unit, a basket and a lid. They are designed to create fried rather than oily foods, offering temperature settings ideal for sealing in moisture and reducing oil absorption. Having said that, fried food is not recommended every day (from a health point of view) as it lowers the nutrient value and it also covers food in unhealthy fats which can lead to clogging of the arteries.
The cost of a deep fat fryer has reduced significantly in the last few years, with new alternatives such as the low fat fryer or air fryer and the multi fryer coming on to the market. This is good news for anyone who is thinking of buying one but with so many variations, it would be wise to do some research and make a purchase based on the size, cost and efficiency, before going ahead.
Deep Fat Fryer Features
An absolute must on any deep fat fryer is a temperature thermostat, this will work with either an indicator light, to show when the oil has reached the correct temperature and is ready to use, or simply a light that will go out when the correct temperature is reached.
Nearly all decent branded fryers will have one so you know the temperature of the oil when frying, this is important from a safety aspect as well as from a cooking point of view. A good fryer should also have a safety cut out feature to avoid fires.
One of the major choices you should consider first is that of plastic versus stainless steel, this isn‘t just for aesthetic reasons but also for safety. Plastic fryers are generally ’cool wall‘, fryers so you won’t get burnt if you actually touch the outside of it, whereas, it is easier to get burnt if the outside of a stainless steel one is touched. Safety locks are a great feature on the plastic ranges, and though you may find a safety lock on some stainless steel fryers, generally they usually only come with plastic.
Another important aspect of a deep fat fryer is that of a large viewing window, this makes it easy to check on the food without opening the lid and losing heat, also to avoid oil splashes. A mechanism to raise and lower the basket is important too, so that the food is gradually dropped into the fryer thus avoiding hot oil splashing out of the unit.
Other features to look for on a deep fat fryer is the capacity and the size of the frying basket, a digital timer, and whether it has filters that need cleaning. You should also consider the cleaning aspect of a fryer, how accessible it is to drain the oil and if it has a drainage point. Some of the new deep fat fryers now have a cool zone; this means that if food falls out of the frying basket, it won’t keep on cooking once the heat has been turned off.
Advanced Deep Fat Fryer features
Some new models have advanced features such as adjustable thermostats, these can cut the power if the temperature gets too hot, and these fryers can cook food to perfection safely, especially when combined with an inbuilt timer. There are also models that are capable of cooking a variety of foods at the same time, by using a food separator compartment. Some fryers, especially the air fryers, have a rotating basket which ‘dips’ the food in the oil as it rotates, these can use as much as 50% less oil than the conventional deep fat fryer, making them a healthier option.
Cleaning and Draining Deep Fat Fryers
If cleaning is an important aspect of buying a deep fat fryer, then check out the reviews first. You don’t want to be taking a deep fat fryer apart to clean it, or have to hold it over the sink to be cleaned with soapy water, so it’s worth checking on the size of fryer and how heavy it is.
Deep fat fryers by definition aren’t going to be easy to clean because they use oil and all fryers need the oil changing on a regular basis. Most have bowls that need to be lifted and poured; some can be quite heavy, especially when full with old cold oil. However, there are some models now with special drainage features which allow the oil to be drained without the lifting and pouring, making them easy to use and clean.
Types of Fryers
✓ Deep Fat Fryers: There are quite a few differences between deep fat fryers and the low fat fryer alternative. Most deep fat fryers use a lot of oil to submerge the food in order to fry it, though the ones with rotating baskets have proved to reduce the fat content by 50%
A number of these fryers don’t allow you to cook different types of food in one go, this makes it difficult to fry meals such as sausage and chips as both foods need different temperatures. However, there are fryers on the market that come with a food separator basket, but they tend to be the more expensive ones.
✓ Low Fat Fryers: Low fat fryers are the healthier alternative to deep-frying, they don’t use liters of oil and some only use a spoonful of oil to cook with. There are other models that don’t use any oil at all because they use convection heat or the existing fat on frozen prepared foods.
Some low fat fryers have a fan assisted halogen heating element and come with a rotating paddle, which does roughly the same job as a rotary basket fryer; the good thing about these fryers is that they don’t submerge the food in oil. The Actifryer can cook food with only 3% fat while the Air fryer, with its halogen technology combined with a spoonful of oil, can reduce fat by up to 80%.
A Safer Way of Frying
The advance of technology has given the deep fat fryer the ability to cook nutritiously tasty and crisp food, without all the added fat. With the improved features of safety locks, automatic thermostats and safety cut out features, not to mention rotating baskets, multi fryers and low fat air fryers; Deep fat frying is a safe, easy and reliable way for anyone to fry food.