Operators in the foodservice industry are currently racing to replace their current frying shortening and oils with low trans fat alternatives. New York City, Chicago, the state of California and others have mandated the use of low trans fat products or are considering doing so. It is not a question of if, but when.
Low trans fat oils that maintain taste and shelf life are becoming commercially available. However, they do come with some drawbacks for the operator. First is the cost. Depending on the type of oil that the operator is currently using, the cost escalation can be significant. Secondly, some low trans fat oils are more sensitive to temperature excursions and will break down more quickly if exposed to high cooking temperatures for extended time.
Faced with rising oil costs and potentially shorter oil life, what strategies can the operator implement to help maintain profitability?
There are multiple factors an operator needs to consider when choosing a frying system that will effectively manage shortening while still providing top quality products.
The first thing to consider is fryer temperature recovery. Fast recovering, high production fryers can cook food to the same quality standard in the same amount of time at a lower temperature and do so more efficiently than traditional fryers. The advantage to the operator is longer oil life. Many low trans fat oils have a lower smoke point so cooking at lower temperatures will prolong the life of the shortening.
To demonstrate this, below is an excerpt from Tom Stroozas research paper Fryer Performance: An Inside Look.
We evaluated five popular fryer brands. Each showed different results as far as heat exchanger efficiencies are concerned. Of particular interest were the vast differences in flue-gas temperatures, which are a good indicator of overall fryer efficiency. Our test measured temperatures from a peak of 509°F (Fryer A) to over 1150°F (Fryer E). We were also able to actually see a computerized visual of how the burners were firing and for how long. This correlated to the ability of the fryer to maintain proper temperature recovery to maximize food production, reduce oil loss and consistently produce a high quality finished product.
The charts below show how Fryers A and B (Ultrafryer) performed with the highest efficiencies (low flue gas temps) and a smooth and somewhat modulating burn to maintain temperature and basically recover instantaneously. When looking at these factors, one could assume that these fryers would produce the best overall quality product, and, upon review of the finished products throughout the 30 minute heat lamp hold, they in fact did!
The second consideration is electronic temperature control. Traditionally temperature controls on fryers have been simple on/off mechanical controllers that are prone to losing their calibrations. These large temperature excursions around the set point lead to temperature overshoot which causes early shortening breakdown. Electronic temperature controls are designed to recognize what is happening in the fryer, applying power when required to ensure fast recovery but also knowing when to “put the brakes on” to ensure that the fryer does not overshoot. Precise temperature control ensures excellent product quality and longer oil life.
With the introduction of low trans fat oils, shortening filtration is going to become more important than ever. The key design elements of an effective shortening filtration system are safety, reliability, ease of operation, and an oversized plumbing system that operates clog free. Look for a filter system that offers different filter media such as stainless steel screens, filter paper, and impregnated pads to ensure multiple levels of filtration. Finally, make sure the fryer pump/motor has a high gallon per minute pump rating.
In conclusion, higher cost low trans fat oils are here to stay. It may be time to decide whether you continue dumping money into your old fryer system or choose a deep frying system that is designed to work with standard or low trans fat oils, produce consistently great tasting food, and save money through energy efficiency and extending oil life.
If you’re ready to save up to 60% on your frying program, give Ultrafryer Systems a call and find out how to optimize every single bite of your business.
Rich Jones: 800-545-9189 ext. 5021