Deep frying and pan frying at home can mean that you'll never need to go out for doughnuts, fried chicken, french fries and other crispy delights ever again.
This process can be tricky for seasoned chefs and downright intimidating to amateur home cooks. But with a few tips, it doesn't need to be so hard or scary.
Oils with a high smoke point are best for frying. The smoke point is the temperature when oil starts to decompose and smoke.
When the oil starts to decompose, it makes your fried foods taste bad and can even be a fire hazard.
Peanut, safflower and sunflower oil all have high smoke points, at or above 440 degrees Fahrenheit (227 degrees Celsius).
Lard, often a popular choice for home frying, has a smoke point of 370 degrees Fahrenheit (187 Celsius). Considered that most deep-frying recipes have you heat the oil between 325 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (162 to 204 Celsius), lard's not the best choice.
If your foods are coming out of the fryer saturated in oil, it's probably because you didn't heat the oil up enough. The faster the food cooks, the less oil it absorbs.
Put a food thermometer in the center of the fryer to test how hot the oil is before you add your foods. The oil should be at the frying temperature stated in your recipe, or slightly above it, since the oil's temperature will drop when you add food.
Don't have a thermometer? Dip a wooden spoon in the oil. If the oil bubbles around the spoon, it is ready for frying.
When you cut foods like potatoes, starchy juices are released. Getting rid off those starches gives you a crunchier texture. Give freshly cut french fries or other starchy foods a good rinse before frying them.
Some cooks recommend soaking potatoes and other starchy foods anywhere from 30 minutes to hours in cold water for the perfect crunch. Others recommend rinsing in vinegar or cold water. Experiment next time you fry up some homemade french fries to see what gives you the best results.
No matter if you choose to soak or rinse, just make sure to pat your foods dry before you place them in the fryer. Water can make oil pop and explode, so you could get burned. Cold water also lowers the temperature of the oil.
Putting food in a fryer lowers the temperature of the grease. Wait a few minutes for the grease after you remove the food so that it can come back up to temperature.
Wait to salt and pepper your foods until they are out of the fryer. If you season foods before you fry, the seasonings will fall off and you'll have burnt lumps floating in your fryer.
Does the breading always fall off of your fried foods? The solution is threefold. First, you need to coat properly. Dredge your food in flour, then dip it in egg or buttermilk, and then coat it with breadcrumbs. Second, don't touch it while it cooks.
Third, skip the tongs. Use a fry basket, spider skimmer (like the one in the photo) or a spatula to remove the food from the oil to avoid tearing the coating.
Letting fried foods soak in oil makes them soggy. To prevent limpness, place a cookie sheet next to your deep fryer and set a cooling rack on top.
As soon as you take food out of the fryer, place it on the cooking rack. The excess oil will dip down to the cookie sheet and your fried foods will stay crunchy.
Some say you can use frying oil over and over again, but for the best results start fresh. Old oil can transfer flavors from the last thing you fried to your new batch -- no one wants doughnuts that taste like popcorn shrimp.
Oil can also become rancid over time, which affects how well it fries and makes your foods taste bad.
So, after the grease cools, toss it and clean out your fryer. Many towns have recycling areas where you can drop off your used cooking grease. Whatever you do, don't pour oil down the drain. It will clog your pipes as it cools and solidifies.
If you hate using all that oil in the first place, maybe you should invest in an air fryer. It uses only a fraction of the oil deep fryers need, and, in most cases, you'll still end up with satisfying, crunchy food.
There are a few tricks to using air fryers. First, remember to shake the basket every few minutes and don't stack big items like chicken legs. Here are some more tips for using an air fryer.