By Paul Rifkin, Club Catering Consultant
Last column I reminded you of the old catchcry “Oils ain’t oils” and all fryers being created equal – until a chef gets their hands on one. This week I’ll focus on the mathematics of frying.
The $$$$ fried
A quick maths question. If the fryer holds 20-25 litres and is replaced daily or every second day, that amounts to approximately $60 per oil change 3-4 times a week = $11,000 per fryer per year.
With daily filtering through a standard filter paper or material, about 70 microns, this can be reduced to 2-3 changes per week = $7800 per fryer per year.
With daily filtering through a fine 7-micron filter paper and strong pump, this can be reduced to 1-2 changes per week = $4700 per fryer per year.
With daily filtering with a strong pump, fine 7-micron paper and using a polishing powder, this can be reduced to 0.8-1 change per week = $2,800 per fryer per year.
Some brands of pumps are too weak to use 7-micron paper with a polishing powder. The polishing powder makes the paper filter finer still, a weak pump will simply not pull the oil through. So check with your pump manufacturer. Otherwise, the chefs will say, “it doesn’t work” and filtering will stop! FYI, McDonald’s use inbuilt filtering and filter up to 20 times a day… their oil life is amazing!
Smart operators install fryers with inbuilt filtering
Most clubs have 3+ fryers, some have as many as 25 across one venue = many $ per year. Hence, the fryer is an important cost centre for overall food costs, and thus my attention to this area.
How to reduce costs in frying and why
Monitoring the prices from different suppliers can save 10-25% per year. And I see many clubs using the same products because they always have.
Different oils attach to food in varying amounts for a variety of reasons and this can add up to 10 per cent more to your oil costs. You can monitor this by measuring how much you top up fryers after each service.
Old unfiltered oil sticks more
Filtered oil sticks less. Fine micron-filtered oil attaches less again. Oil polished with a polishing powder and filtered through a fine filter, sticks the least. Polishing powder also removes aftertastes and smells such as fish, chicken and carbon left over from foods cooked in a fryer.
Oil filtered daily or twice daily produces the crispest products with the least amount of oil attaching itself to the product and gives your customers the best experience. Few things are worse in a restaurant or diner than that of smelly, bad-tasting oil dripping off your schnitzel down the chin!
Different oils will attach differently too. Canola generally will attach less than heavier Cottonseed blends.
There has been a stream of products that purport to extend frying oil life that I have seen and tested over the last 40 years. Some use magnets and other technologies. Others hold the crumbs in the burn zone rather than the cold zone, further burning the oil.
Many filter the oil poorly, although that’s better than nothing. Perhaps now is the best time to audit your frying practices, as you are literally throwing good oil away for no reason and it’s costing you money?
Food costs are an area that requires constant attention, yet frying oil often gets forgotten, or ignored. But in my experience, it is an area with the simplest cost reductions, with good management and robust systems, the saving will be yours.
Few things are as satisfying as a crisp chip and chicken schnitzel at your local club … your customers deserve it.
Club Catering Consultant Paul Rifkin has more than 40 years’ experience in large-venue kitchens as a chef and mentor, including 17 years at Campbelltown Catholic Club as Executive Chef.