Deep-Frying Tips & Techniques
If you are undeterred by possible health risks or are treating yourself to an occasional deep-fried delicacy, here are some techniques and safety tips to keep in mind:
- Choose your cooking oil carefully. When the oil starts to give off continuous smoke, you have it way too hot. Oils with high 'smoke points' are best, such as peanut oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, and canola oil. Be sure to use enough oil so there is enough to cover whatever items you intend to fry.
- Choose a deep, very heavy skillet to fry with. Add oil to the cold pan, leaving a space of at least two inches at the top of the pan, to allow a safety margin when the oil bubbles up as the food is added.
- Heating a large amount of oil can take a long period of time. Deep-frying should be done with the oil around 365 degrees F (185° C); use a candy thermometer to keep track of the oil's temperature.
- When breading with a moist batter, use cornmeal, cornstarch or flour to make it stick to the food. Be sure to shake off the excess batter or breading before frying, or it may come off in the oil.
- Always place food in the fryer away from you to prevent splashing and burning - do not throw it in! Keep your sleeves rolled down.
- Avoid crowding the deep fryer with food, which will lower the oil’s temperature.
- Maintain the proper frying temperature to ensure food cooks properly and doesn’t absorb too much oil (if it is too hot, the coating will burn before the food cooks; if it is not hot enough, oil will reach the food before it’s fully cooked and will become greasy) .
- Watch the food carefully as it cooks and do not leave the fryer unattended. Make sure all cords and the fryer itself is kept out of the reach of children.
- Ideally you should only be deep-frying infrequently, which would allow you to use fresh new oil each time. But if you really want to re-use the oil, wait until it has cooled then strain it (through paper towels, coffee filters or cheesecloth) into a new container; store it in a cool, dark place.
- Flames from a pot of hot oil can be 2 or 3 feet high. Be sure to have a real non-liquid fire extinguisher on hand and ready to use (a box of baking soda will likely not suffice in the event of a deep-fryer fire).