Fried foods continue to be popular across the globe. Today, less and less of us are going out to find our favorite fried goods and are instead, turning to cooking at home. The deep fat fryer is showing no signs of going out of fashion and fried foods can be enjoyed as part of a balanced diet. But what is the best type of oil to use for certain types of foods and occasions?
When deep frying foods, the food in question is submerged in oil around the 180-190oC temperature mark. Dipping food in oil in this way means the surface cooks pretty much instantly. A type of cover is created that prevents the oil from penetrating the food itself.
Moisture within the food transforms into steam which means the food is cooking from the inside – this steam also prevents the oil from seeping into the food. Low temperatures will result in the oil making contact with the inner layers of the good, rendering it too oily and even greasy. Temperatures that are too great will dry out the food, leaving an unpleasant texture.
Many of us will have experienced the following: when you leave oil in a pan at a high heat and you come back to find it giving out smoke. This occurs because all cooking fats have what is called a smoke point, AKA the temperature when oil starts to omit harmful to health smoke signals. Healthy nutrients that make up many different unrefined oils become destroyed when oil overheats and reaches smoke point. The smoke point differs between cooking oils and there are certain oils that cope better at high temperatures including almond oil, peanut oil and corn oil.
Deep fat frying and the word “healthy” do not usually appear in the same sentence. However, there are types of oil you can use to keep your calorie intake and fat consumption down – these oils also have high smoke point.
Coconut oil: this type of oil contains medium-chain triglycerides which is proven to increase exercise endurance.
Olive oil: one of the most popular oils used in Mediterranean countries, olive oil is one of the most popular cooking oils. Contrary to common belief, olive oil does not change from a “good” oil to a “bad oil” when it is heated to a very high temperature. It’s composition remains the same which means you can still benefit from its health qualities.
Avocado oil: The avocado has seen a huge popularity surge over the last few years and it looks like this is here to stay. Avocado oil has a particularly high smoke point. For this reason amongst others, it’s a great choice for your deep fat fryer.
If you notice that your oil is smoking at a lower temperature to normal, becomes darker in colour or starts to smell rancid, you should take this as an indication that the oil is no longer healthy to use. Don’t wait for these warning signs to occur and make sure your oil is fresh before any of these deep fat fryer symptoms occur!
There are some oils and fats that you should avoid putting in your deep fat fryer. Vegetable oils are extracted from seeds and for this reason, they need to go through processing methods that render them unhealthy for consumption. Vegetable oils are high in polyunsaturated fats and as much as 4% of them can be comprised of toxic trans fats. Some further example of fats to avoid include:
Deep fat frying with these oils means you’re exposing yourself to a high amount of oxidized fats which can be harmful to heart health and raise cholesterol.
You should place used cooking oil into a sealable bag and place it in the bin. Sealing in a bag will prevent any potential for leaks that will be extremely difficult to clean up should it seep through.
Do not poor you cooking oil down the sink as the fat particles could solidify and block up your pipes, resulting in complex and expensive-to-resolve plumping problems!
All around the world, millions of us have a penchant for deep fried foods and flavours and this doesn’t look to be going away in a hurry. Deep frying may not be the healthiest method of cooking, but when foods are cooked this way in moderation, it does not pose any threat to your health. Here are some of the best things about cooking with a deep fat fryer:
So there you have it. Deep fat fryers can accommodate a number of different oils, but knowing which to choose for the type of food and result you’re looking for is key. Now you know the types of oil to choose and avoid, how to dispose of it and how to choose the healthy option, you can deep fry to your hearts's content.