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Deep Fryer Cooking Tips

by Meg Jernigan

Tempura, fried chicken and doughnuts lend themselves to deep fryer cooking. Likewise, homemade fries fresh from the deep fryer beat frozen potatoes every time. Use beneficial oils heated to the proper temperature . Deep-frying is not a project for younger kids and teens should be under close supervision when they're using the appliance.

Types of Oil

Choose an oil with a high smoke point, or the temperature at which the oil starts to break down and burn. This process imparts an unpleasant flavor and destroys some of the nutritional value of certain oils. Peanut, corn, grape-seed and safflower oils have high smoke points. Cottonseed oil also has a high smoke point. The oil may lower cholesterol levels and provides more Vitamin E than corn oil. Canola oil has a moderately high smoke point and may be protective against colon cancer.

Temperature

Invest in a fat thermometer that hangs on the side of the deep fryer. Most deep-fried foods cook at temperatures between 350 and 400 degrees Fahrenheit. If the temperature is too low, the food will absorb the oil. If it's too high, the outside of the food will cook before the inside. Use temperatures at the lower end of the range for larger pieces of meat, like fried chicken. Smaller sizes cook through at higher temperatures. Don't fill the deep fryer with oil beyond the manufacturer's recommended depth. The oil bubbles up when you add food, so too much oil may splash out of the fryer. Cook in small batches so the temperature of the oil doesn't drop when you add food.

Food Preparation

If you're preparing a dish like French fries, try to cut all of the potatoes pieces the same size. Keep them covered in cold water until you're ready to cook so they don't begin to brown, but make sure to dry them thoroughly before you put them in the hot oil so the oil doesn't spatter. Drop one fry in the hot oil to make sure it's the right temperature. If the oil sizzles around the potato, it's ready. Cold batter adheres better to vegetables and seafood in tempura cooking. Season foods immediately with salt and pepper or a seasoning mix when they come out of the oil.

Safety

Make sure you place the deep fryer out of reach of your children, and that the cord isn't where it can be snagged. Wear an oven mitt when you place food in the deep fryer to prevent burns caused by splatters, and don't allow any possibility that water will drop into the hot oil. If your fryer didn't come with a lid, keep a cookie sheet or pizza pan nearby in case the oil ignites. Remember to turn the fryer off immediately in that case, or to unplug it. Don't save used cooking oil to use again later. Once it's heated, it starts to break down and may form trans-fats. Let it cool and put it in a container with a tight-fitting lid to be disposed of or recycled.

About the Author

Meg Jernigan has been writing for more than 30 years. She specializes in travel, cooking and interior decorating. Her offline credits include copy editing full-length books and creating marketing copy for nonprofit organizations. Jernigan attended George Washington University, majoring in speech and drama.

Photo Credits

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