The Facts on Frying Oil
Frying oils undergo chemical changes during heating, exposure to light as well as storage. This is the chemical nature of oil products.
These changes lead oils breaking down into toxic chemical substances. Fortunately there are classic signs of this degradation.
- Change or darkening of colour.
- Rancid or ‘off’ smell
- Rancid taste
The speed or rate at which this breakdown happens is dependent on the type of oils used.
In general the higher the amount of unsaturated fats in the oil the faster it breaks down. Sunflower, Canola and Soy degrade a lot faster than Olive and Palm oils.
Sunflower oil is the non-volatile oils pressed from the seeds of sunflower (Helianthus annuus). Sunflower oils is commonly used in food as a frying oils,
Canola oils, or canola for short, is a vegetable oils derived from rapeseed that is low in erucic acid, as opposed to colza oils. It is also the name of
Palm oils are an edible vegetable oil derived from the mesocarp (reddish pulp) of the fruit of the oil palms, primarily the African oil palm Elaeis guineensis.
How do we Manage Oil Degradation?
The use of frying oil is a significant cost in the kitchen, however there is also a major food safety risk in incorrectly using frying oils. Oil management is an important yet often overlooked risk in the kitchen.
Free Fatty Acids (FFA) is an effective way to measure and determine whether oils are still suitable or not. FFA depends on:
- Moisture content
This means that the ‘shortening’ of cooking oils cannot be easily measured if the above are unknown, such as how long the oil fryer was on for and at what temperature. Important the type of food that is fried also determines how long oils will last. Considerations include foods with crumbs or batter, potato chips/fries.
An FFA of between 2 – 6 % is still usable and above 6% increases the potential toxicity. This can be measured by using two methods:
Below are 2 options to consider using for checking and maintaining the frying oil quality: These are available on Amazon.com. Click on the image to see more information. You’ll be taken to the Amazon website.
There are other products and equipment that help ensure the longevity of oils.
Simply filtering the oil on a daily basis can help extend the life of the oil by removing solids that contribute to the degradation of the oil and will help minimise the water content.
However the main point here is that this risk can be managed and does not require you to discard oil after a single use, if cared for properly.
Keeping records of oil changes will also help you predict when oil changes are needed according the usage and time.
- Use oil shortening test strips / colour chart
- Measure the quality according to the above
- Has the fryer been drained? (This should be done daily for cleaning of the fryer)
- Has the oil been correctly strained? (This is to filter/clean the oil for reuse)
- Is it still suitable for use? (Still yellow?)
- If dark, then use a test strip to confirm replacement.
- Was the oil discarded?
For more information on the food safety pillars check the ebook on Amazon.
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