Commercial fryer buying guide
If you're considering the purchase of a deep fat fryer, be it a free standing or countertop fryer, gas or electric, the Catering Appliance Superstore buying guide can help save you a lot of time.
Selecting a commercial fryer can be especially complex because some of the decisions you need to make are not clear cut, particularly around what kind of fryer technology is most appropriate for the type and range of fried food you want to offer. As with any product you should spend the time to understand your business requirements before you make your purchase. There are two main questions you need to ask yourself, but you need to consider them at the same time because there is a trade off between ease of cleaning and suitability for high-sediment foods.
What do you want to fry, and how easy do you want cleaning of your fryer to be?
The only easy answer to the question of what food you want to fry is doughnuts, as we sell specialist machines for these (though doughnuts can be fried in general purpose units too). Most other businesses will be using their fryer for a wide range of fried foods, and need to decide on balance which fryer will be most appropriate the majority of the time, or for larger kitchens whether it is even worth investing in more than one fryer for different foods.
Tube style fryers
Tube style fryers use permanently immersed heating element tubes and generally have a deep sediment collection zone (or cold zone) beneath them to collect particles. They are the best choice for heavy use, and for foods that have a lot of batter or sediment drop off, like battered fish, fried chicken, onion rings, or anything freshly breaded. However, the fixed heating elements can make effective cleaning more difficult (though you must still clean your fryer thoroughly and regularly for efficient performance and food quality).
Open pot fryers
Open pot fryers have a less obstructed heating area with gas heaters outside the frying pot itself or an immersed electric heating element within it, which may lift clear of the oil for easy cleaning. They can handle things like onion rings and battered fish perfectly well, but if you're selling a lot of that kind of food then you might find the reduced sediment collection zone needs cleaning out more often than is practical (the sediment collection zone is often narrowed to make space for the external heaters). If you are frying mostly food that is not battered or breaded, for example just high volumes of fries or chips, then an open pot fryer is a good choice as cleaning is a good deal easier.
Flat bottom fryers
Flat bottom fryers are the simplest in construction but are only really suitable for light use or for delicate fried items like tempura battered foods, tortilla chips or donuts which float near the surface. They are wide and can be relatively shallow, with a lot of oil surface area to maximise the capacity for floating fried items, but they are simply heated from below and have no colder sediment collection zone so particles of food will remain in the main volume of oil. You will have to be vigilant with your cleaning routine or you may get a burnt taste in your food, or get too much debris floating in the open tank.
Tank capacity and filtration
Once you know the broad type of fryer technology that will work best with the food mix in your restaurant, other things to look out for are of course tank capacity (often expressed in terms of how many chips per hour the fryer can handle), recovery time (the speed at which oil returns to temperature after food is immersed; the quicker it does the crisper and better quality the frying) or built-in filtration systems. Filtering oil of particles will extend the useful life of both the fryer and each batch of oil, and if your fryer doesn't come with a built in unit you might need to spend extra money on an external filtration machine.
Catering Appliance Superstore stock many different fryer configurations; it is important to consider from an operational perspective whether you are happy for all food to be in a single basket, or need two baskets but can immerse them in the same oil tank, or if you require separate tanks to avoid cross contamination. Twin tanks that can be independently controlled can reduce energy consumption during quieter periods too. Separate tanks will also allow you to use fresh oil for more delicately flavoured foods, leaving older (but still clean and regularly filtered) oil to handle battered and breaded items. Once the new oil has been used a few times, many experienced kitchen teams will clean and refill the other tank and switch delicate foods over to that one. Attention to detail in production will always get the best results.
Gas vs electric
You will probably already have a good idea of whether a gas or electric installation is the most appopriate for your business, but it is always worth comparing energy usage of comparable fryers and review how energy prices have changed or are expected to change in the near future. Kitchens which are already operational will of course need to weigh the cost of running new electric or gas work in their decision to switch to either.