Anybody who has ever worked behind the lines in a commercial kitchen or restaurant cringes when you bring up the ongoing upkeep of a deep fryer. It is a tedious task and must be done daily to keep the fryer working properly and the oil from becoming rancid.
It is the most dreaded task in any restaurant. There is potential for accidents, spills, and numerous other unwanted mishaps. Oil does not clean up easy if spilled on the floor, which means even more work involved. Teaching new employees how to clean a deep fryer comes with problems all on its own. And according to safety requirement standards, younger employees are not permitted to clean the fryers.
The number one priority in cleaning a deep fryer is making sure the oil has been cooled. The temperature gauges must be off, and machine unplugged for extra safety measures. It takes a long time to cool a large vat of oil; that is why fryers are typically cleaned in the beginning of the work day, and then filtered again at night (or oil drained and changed). Once the temperature has reached around 150 degrees, cleaning can begin.
For every type and variety of fryer, there will be different instructions for cleaning. Always follow the manufacturer’s suggested fryer maintenance steps. Commercial fryers that are free-standing will require special piping attachments for oil to drain into large stainless steel containers.
The reason this is done regularly is due to particle buildup. If unmanaged, it can cause problems with the fryers. Once the oil is drained into a safe container, the sides and bottom have to be scraped clean. Many people use scoops of oil to wash down the sides repeatedly until the particles have been washed through a filter. This way is actually preferred over the metal spatula system.
There needs to be a regular schedule for conducting “boil outs” for maintaining the fryers. This should be done somewhere between 3 to 6 months. It involves completely draining out the old fryer oil and refilling the vat with a mild cleansing solution in warm water. Turn on the fryer and bring the temperature up to a heavy simmer. A long-handled bristled brush is used to do a deep scrub inside and outside of the fryer.
Oil is difficult to clean perfectly, but with a little perseverance and time, it can be brought up to required standards, preserving the life of the fryers. After you have finished scrubbing, run more warm water through the fryer to eliminate any possible soap or particle residue. Once the fryers are clean (and the baskets are run through the dishwasher a couple of times) you can take dry towels to remove any water drips that might remain.
Fryers should be filtered every day. This is a required task to keep the oil safe to use and to maintain the integrity of the machines. Those who have worked in restaurants will tell you what a pain it is to try to clean a fryer which has been left untouched for a couple of days. Draining the oil becomes clogged in the pipes by food particles, and eventually needing snaking, followed by the potential rush of oil into the pot and then onto the floor. This is the reason it is the most disliked task in the kitchen. Good habits in this area count. Slip and fall accidents are the dreaded result of poor fryer cleaning habits.
Think about how much oil is used over and over during the course of a day. Oil will go bad faster if not filtered. How do you know when it is time for new oil? When the oil begins to look deep yellowish brown and has an unbecoming smell to it. In addition to this, your products will not fry well at all and taste even worse.
Also, remember to stay within the recommended cooking temperature. Oil will burn easily and transfer that pungent taste right onto your food – even if the food doesn’t appear affected. Remember that oil breaks down and cannot be used over and over. When your oil degrades, it can also damage your equipment. It is better to invest in new oil than have to purchase a new fryer.
If you want your product to remain consistently good and your fryer to function properly every time, create a time slot, a daily schedule for filtering your oil and remember to do the necessary “boil outs” every few months.
Teach your operators all the safety measures to take before, during, and after cleaning fryers. Cleaning fryers is a dreaded, messy task, but one that has to be done. Remember, if you don’t’ change your oil often, it won’t matter how well you have treated your equipment. Old oil also permeates the air and affects the environment. Is a horrible, greasy smell something you want to welcome your customers with the moment they walk through your doors? Obviously not, as that would put them off eating at your establishment. Therefore, you need to make sure you oil is replaced on a regular basis.