Enjoy your favorite fried foods with a deep fryer in your kitchen! In a deep fryer, food cooks by steam. As the moisture inside the food heats and boils, it repels the oil, resulting in a moist and tender dish. However, oil temperature is key in this result. If the oil is not hot enough or too hot, you risk the oil being absorbed by the food, resulting in oily, greasy food.
In general, there are two types of deep fryers: electric and gas. An electric deep fryer plugs into an AC socket and uses electricity to generate its heat. Gas deep fryers are powered by liquefied petroleum (LPG) or natural gas and have burners located on the outside of the pot. These fryers may come in a range of materials, but for fast-cooking items, aluminum is best. Aluminum heats and cools quickly, which helps to prevent overcooking. When cooking larger items and meat, stainless steel and copper are best, as they will retain heat better.
Shopping for a Deep Fryer:
When looking for a deep fryer, the first thing you want to consider is its capacity. Though you may not always be cooking large amounts of food, you do want to consider the value of the fryer holding a larger amount of oil. When cooler foods are added, the oil temperature does not reduce as dramatically as it would if the oil volume were smaller. A larger fryer also allows you to cook larger batches.
In regards to the oil used, you should consider a deep fryer that offers a permanent or charcoal filter to help keep your oil cleaner. There are units that offer a built-in draining system with a drain pipe, which is an ideal way to drain the used oil. There are also units with an oil cavity, which holds your used oil after you have finished cooking. Usually separate from the fryer, it allows you to easily store oil and pack away everything else.
It is helpful to have a deep fryer with indicator lights to see when the power is on and when the oil is the right temperature. It is also beneficial to have one that allows you to adjust the temperature settings. Since temperature control is one of the most important things for perfect frying, the adjustable thermostat allows you to set the oil to the right temperature for various kinds of food.
You have different options when it comes to the type of basket which holds your food. A manual dipping basket will slowly lower and raise your food in and out of the hot oil. For your safety, you may wish to get one that allows you to control the lifting and lowering of the basket while the lid is still closed. Some automatic designs feature a basket that rotates through the oil instead of sitting still. This leads to a more uniform result and typically requires much less oil than the traditional still basket. Though some fryers may come with multiple removable baskets, typically the smaller versions do not have immersion baskets and the food is placed directly into the bottom of the pot.
Safety features to look for include an auto shut-off system, nonslip feet and a lid lock. Additionally, a viewing window in the lid is beneficial as it enables you to see how your food is progressing without having to lift the lid. For electric deep fryers, another feature to look for is a cool wall; this allows you to touch the outside of the machine while it is in operation without burning your hands.
Cleaning Your Deep Fryer
Luckily, when it comes to cleaning, many modern deep fryers have dishwasher-safe parts and may even come completely apart for a thorough cleaning! Some units also feature a nonstick bowl for even easier cleaning. It is important to clean your deep fryer after each use. If you cook with old grease splatters in or on the fryer, it is likely to burn or crisp to the unit and can affect how your food cooks and tastes.
To clean, let the oil and deep fryer cool completely, then filter and drain the oil into a large canister. As long as you filter your oil and have not cooked strong smelling or tasting foods (such as fish), you can reuse the oil. Once the oil has been drained, scrape out any remaining food particles and wipe out residue. If your deep fryer is dishwasher safe, follow the manufacturer's directions for further cleaning procedures.
Below are some general tips to cleaning your deep fryer if it is not dishwasher-safe. Please note it is best to refer to the manufacturer's directions on how to clean your individual unit:
Add a squirt of degreasing dish soap to your deep fryer, then fill it with water to the oil level. Turn on your fryer and bring the soapy water to a boil. After boiling for 10 minutes, turn off the unit, let the water cool, then dump it out and rinse thoroughly with clean water.
To clean the outside of your deep fryer, use a degreasing solvent and let it sit for 10 minutes. You can also make a 1:1 mixture of baking soda and water or corn flour and water. After letting it sit for up to 15 minutes, wipe away with a wet paper towel and dry with a clean paper towel.
Remember, never submerge your deep fryer in water.