Food Quality

Very fresh oil does not cook well (food remains relatively raw) until it is broken in by frying a few portions of food or by adding a small amount of old oil to the new. Food fried in moderately used oil develops a well-cooked interior, a crisp exterior with a minimum of oil soakage, and typical golden colors and tempting flavors. Food fried in degraded oil does not cook completely in the interior, develops an excessively hard exterior, and suffers from oil soakage, dark coloration, and off-flavor.

Food fried in fresher oil is crisp, tasty, and well received. Food fried in degraded oil is limp and rejected. The quality of fried food from differently aged oil is often adjusted for by varying heater temperature and food residence time. These latter adjustments, however, never fully compensate for changes in the cooking properties of frying oil. Attainment of a crisp crust differentiated from a well-cooked interior is the goal of many groups that use frying to process food. The structure and chemical composition of fried crust is not yet understood. Dehydration produces hard structures, and oil incorporation (and perhaps interaction) produces an elastic component. This lack of knowledge keeps product development focused more on ingredient technology than on scientific principles.

Oil in Prefried Foods

The coatings of battered and breaded foods introduce soluble contaminants into the oil. When prefried foods are refried, the aged oil in the food comingles with the new frying oil and again introduces foreign chemicals. This latter case is especially important to food service operators and is difficult to guard against. Some prefried food vendors even tout the fact that their products are heavy with oil and will provide the food service fryer with extra free oil. This free oil is often loaded with soluble contaminant chemicals such as surfactants. Often a food service operation complains to its frying oil vendor that a new batch of oil was no good because it failed early in use. Actually, the prefried food was the culprit and the wrong vendor was blamed. An opportunity always exists to better control the production and increase the quality of fried foods by identifying the causative agent of variation in oil and its relationship to the process of frying.

The Mediterranean Diet Meltdown

The Mediterranean Diet Meltdown

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