From crispy fried chicken to golden brown doughnuts, deep-frying is a brilliantly versatile method of cooking when done safely and correctly. We’ve made a list of our top tips and tricks so you can feel confident deep-fat frying at home.
Make sure not to fill the pan any higher than half full with oil. As you add food to the pan, the oil level will rise and could spill over.
Make sure you use a pan with a lid that fits. If the oil catches fire, turn off the heat and simply cover the pan with the lid. This will suffocate the flames.
Each cooking oil has its own ‘smoke point’, or temperature at which the oil starts to burn and produce smoke. Sunflower, Rapeseed and vegetable oils are the most stable for frying and all belong to the saturated and monounsaturated group.
Steer clear of Olive oil for deep-frying as it will start to smoke and burn at a much lower temperature. It also has a bitter flavour that will be absorbed into your food.
Always use a food thermometer to maintain optimum temperature. Try to keep it in the oil while you are frying to get an accurate reading. You can even buy special frying thermometers that you can clip to your pan.
Heating the oil to 160C (320f) is low, 180C (356f) is moderate, and 190C (374f) is high. Any higher and the oil is likely to catch fire. If the temperature does rise too much, turn off the heat and allow the pan to cool before you continue.
Dry off all wet foods as much as you can, as excess moisture will cause the oil to spit. At high temperatures, this can be dangerous as the hot oil could burn you or others in the kitchen.
The same goes for frozen goods. Cooking from frozen needs to be done very carefully as you are introducing a lot of water through the ice on the food.
While on the heat it can take a relatively short amount of time for the oil to overheat and catch fire, so don’t walk away and leave it unattended. Always be vigilant when deep-frying and keep out so the temperature doesn’t rise too quickly.
Always use a good quality slotted spoon, strainer or spider to remove your food from the oil. This will make sure your food doesn’t come out greasy or soggy, and also prevents your utensil conducting too much heat.
Keep your utensils close by but never leave them in the oil while you are cooking, as they will absorb heat of the oil rapidly.
Once the oil is cool, pour it into a jug and then back into the bottle. If you pour oil down the drain you run the risk of clogging your pipes or sink.
Never pour water directly on the oil if your deep fryer overheats, or if you are trying to cool down your oil to dispose of it. If the oil temperature is too high, the water will turn to steam or catch alight, running the risk of injury.
- If the oil starts to smoke, turn off the heat and leave the oil to cool down.
- If the oil catches fire, turn off the heat and smother the flames with the lid. You could also use a large baking tray or a fire blanket. If you are going to use a fire extinguisher make sure it is not water based. Water will make the fire worse.
- If your fire is out of control, call the fire brigade as soon as it is safe to do so.
Deep fat frying can be daunting, but don’t let that put you off! If you stick to these steps and remember what to avoid then you’ll have no problem cooking beautiful deep fried treats at home!