It's believed by experts that the technique of frying foods originated in the Middle East. The date is uncertain, but it's generally thought to be around two millennia before the birth of Jesus Christ. Frying is therefore age old, and involves the process of bringing oil or fat to a melting point. The reason fat or oils is used, is because they can reach such a high heat. Unlike with boiling water, fat or oil becomes so hot that they can sear the outside of foods. This keeps the moisture and flavour in the food, but also leaves the outside crisp. A criticism of frying food is from the health lobby, which maintain that frying lowers the nutrient value of food, and covers it in unhealthy fats, which can clog the arteries of the heart.
Types Of Frying
There are numerous frying techniques, which vary country to country. The most popular in the west are as follows,
There we have it, four of the most popular way to fry food. You may have noticed that as the list progresses the less healthy it becomes. Sautéing and stir frying can involve food like noodles, vegetables, alongside meats like steak and pork chops. Whereas deep frying involves all the heart cloggers, such as chips, doughnuts, fish and chicken in batter.
Types of Fat and Oils
The primary functions of cooking oils and fats are four fold, they help,
Cooking oil is usually the purified extract of plants, whereas cooking fat is usually the purified extract of animals. There are many types of vegetable oil, some you may be familiar with, others not so.
Below are some of the most popular types of cooking oil,
Cooking fat can be classified into two characteristics. Those made from dairy, and those from meat.
The most common types of dairy cooking fats are,
When it comes to animal fat, any kind of meat cooked produces fat which can be stored and cooked with later.
Below are some popular animal fats to cook with,
The Health Benefits
The healthy option is to cook with vegetable oils, they contain either Omega-3 "linolenic" oils, Omega-6 "linoleic" oils or Omega-9 "monounsaturated" oils. The Omega fatty acids help reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. But, you do need to research how the various oils should be cooked. Some vegetable oils like soy need to be served cold, otherwise they lose their omega-component. Whereas oils like sunflower can be cooked to 210 F, and sesame to 320 F.
Cooking fats like butter contain trans fatty acids, which can be either polyunsaturated or monounsaturated. Research has indicated that the continued consumption of trans fatty acids poses an elevated risk of coronary heart disease. The problem is that they increase levels of LDL cholesterol and lower levels of HDL cholesterol. LDL is the cholesterol you need to avoid, high levels of LDL can indicate cardiovascular disease.
Pans for Frying
Historically, cast iron was the material most commonly used in the construction of frying pans. However, it's an expensive material, and there are cheaper metals to construct pans out of. Four of the most common metals used are,
Some pans also come with a Teflon coating, which makes the pans surface non-stick. This is seen as a gimmick by professional chefs however, so you can only expect to see it on cheaper home use pans. Like with cookers, microwaves, toasters, or any household appliance, the more expensive the model, the more superior metals and components are used in it's construction.
A frying pan can also be referred to as a 'skillet'. The most common characteristics of a frying pan are a large even cooking surface and low sides. Below are some different styles of frying pans,
Deep Fat Fryers
Deep frying is the process of completely submerging food in boiling hot fat and oil. If cooked correctly it's not actually an unhealthy way of eating. Certainly not as bad as many will lead you to believe. The key is having the oil hot enough, and not cooking the food for too long. This way the water within the food will repel the oil. The food will be steamed cooked, and the oil will not penetrate the inside. If the oil does penetrate the food, it will become greasy, and therefore unhealthy. The ideal cooking temperature for most foods is around 185 °C.
There are two popular techniques to deep fry food. One is the use of a traditional chip pan, which is placed on a cooking hob. The other is a stand alone deep fat fryer. It's worth noting that cooking oil poses a fire risk. Because, it's a flammable material, if you do heat the oil too high it will ignite. Therefore, the chip pan is at a disadvantage to a quality deep fat fryer. The chip pan has been the cause of many household fires, because, it provides little in the way of safety features, and people do not realise they have heated the oil too high.
Therefore, the primary advantage of an appliance, such as deep fat fryer, is their safety features. It's worth noting that not all deep fat fryers come with safety features, so you need to check the specification of a deep fat fryer before buying. Below are some of the features which can be included,
Some extra characteristics which make deep fat fryers superior to a chip pan,
What you should consider is where to place a deep fat fryer. If the worst case scenario occurred, and it's tipped over whilst in use, then consider the placement where it would do the least amount of damage. Also, it's worth making sure the power cable cannot get snagged, or yanked by mistake. Therefore, take the time to consider where to place your fryer on a work top.
The dimensions are also important, it's worth making sure your fryer is sturdy. Thin and tall fryers for example, whilst taking up less space, can easily be tipped over. A fryer with wide and deep dimensions should lessen the possibility of this occurring. Finally, a fryer should contain some rubber feet, then it cannot easily slip or be pushed off a work top.