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Frying correctly

Fried food is always very tasty and a favorite among adults and children.

It is a common belief that fried food is fattening, poorly digested and unhealthy, causing many to eliminate it completely from their diet. And yet, the science of nutrition does not forbid this kind of cooking; it actually recommends to eat fried food sparingly, which could mean a couple of times a month. Why? This advice comes from the knowledge that fried food is not made in a way that prevents damage to health. It is often high in fat which can even be toxic. Does it always have to be this way? Not at all. If you fry correctly and mindfully, you can enjoy exquisite delicacies without putting your health at risk.

Quantity of fat required.

A good fry is when the food is fully immersed in the cooking liquid.
This is why deep fat fryers and large enough casserole dishes are preferred over pans. If you fry small amounts of food at a time it is easier to keep the temperature constant.

The temperature

A good fry is more than just fully immersing the food; the fat used for frying must not be absorbed by the food.
If the temperature of the fat (oil, lard, butter) is between 284-356°F and the fat wraps the food completely (immersion); the Maillard reaction occurs in a few seconds, when the crust is created around the food and prevents the frying fat from being absorbed by the food.
The layer is created immediately, it doesn’t matter if the food is uncovered, or covered by batter, flour or breadcrumbs.

There is not much nutritional difference between the types of fat used for frying except for those of the fat when it is raw.
The fat should be chosen according to the one you want to eat (plant or animal) and the taste you want to achieve.

The best fat

Some types of fat, for example lard, have been criminalized in recent decades.
People say that it makes you put on weight; however, given the same weight, it contains fewer calories than extra virgin olive oil.
It is thought that a lot of it sticks to the food, but to avoid this it is sufficient to fry correctly. It seems to grease more, but this is only because lard has a stronger taste than seed oil. Lard and oil contain a similar amount of calories. Choose the frying fat according to its taste and cholesterol content, not according to calories.

Gastronomy is becoming almost a science, to the point that we can even fry without fat.
Glucose, or its variation, dextrose, is used in molecular cuisine. This sugar is found in pharmacies, in stores which sell ingredients for confectionery or in supermarkets and well-stocked grocery stores. Unlike fat, with glucose it is not necessary to worry about submerging the foods: you can achieve the Maillard reaction even with small amounts of liquid. If you fry with this sugar you have to keep the temperature below 302°F to prevent it from caramelizing because, unlike fat, it can crystallize quickly. Obviously, the taste is not suited to all types of frying: glucose leaves a little of its sweet taste on food, but this makes it a delicacy for frying desserts or sweet-sour fries of fruit, cream, thick batter or even for delicious sweet-sour fries with meat and fish. Frying with fat remains the favorite among those who love the traditional taste.

Smoke point

The fat should be chosen according to the characteristics of its fatty acids, saturated or unsaturated, and its frying temperature.
​The fat should be kept under control as it cooks: a deep fat fryer will keep the temperature automatically stable, making it unnecessary to pay attention to the fat giving off smoke. A good result requires a temperature of at least 284°F, and to prevent exceeding the smoke point it is better not to exceed 356°F. To avoid dropping below the suitable temperature only small quantities should be fried at a time and frozen items given the time to defrost a little before frying. In short, it is better to equip yourself with a cooking thermometer.

Smoke points of oils available on the market

Almond oil 420°F

Butter 350°F

Clarified butter 374-401°F (depends on purity)

Rapeseed oil 400°F

Coconut oil 350°F

Corn oil 450°F

Cottonseed oil 450°F    

Grapeseed oil 392°F

Hazelnut oil 430°F

Pork back fat (lard) 450°F

Olive oil and virgin olive oil 420°F

Extra virgin olive oil 405°F

Palm oil 446°F

Peanut oil 450°F

Sesame oil 450°F

Vegetable oil 360°F

Sunflower oil 450°F

Walnut oil 400°F

 

The contents of this article are in accordance with the parameters set out by the European Food Safety Authority - EFSA.