Deep-frying is a popular cooking method in which food is cooked by submerging it in oil at high temperature. It is used with many products and gives them gastronomic qualities that are very appreciated. However, the process should be well understood to be used properly.
In time, frying oil breaks down and the food fried in it darkens too much, is too greasy or acquires unpleasant smells or tastes. This happens because when the oil reaches high temperatures its components are subject to chemical reactions that in the long run produce new, potentially toxic components.
However, how may this deterioration be slowed down? In thefirst place, by using oil that is resistant to it. Olive oil is doubtless the most advisable, since it may be used twice as many times as sunflower seed oil, for example. On the other hand, the higher the temperature, the faster the oil breaks down, so it is not recommended to heat it over 180º C (365º F), although this is only easy to do with electric deep fryers that include temperature controls. Besides, scorched particles also contribute to the deterioration of the oil, so it is recommended that oil is filtered before reusing it or that a deep fryer with a cold zone at the bottom of the fry pot is used, that is, an area where the oil is not heated and where these particles may fall, slowing down deterioration.
Even if you follow these rules, oil always ends up breaking down with use. This is why you should not heat oil more than ten or 15 times, although these figures vary enormously. Frying fatty foods, for example, accelerates the process. This is the reason why it is recommended that you replace frying oil before it begins to smoke, foam or smell unpleasantly.
The other problem with fried foods is their high calorie level, due to the amount of oil they absorb while frying. Here are some tricks to reduce oil absorption:
In the first place, you should avoid adding food to the deep fryer until the correct frying temperature has been reached. This way, hot oil sears the surface of the food and produces a barrier that prevents it from reaching the inside. Likewise, deep fryers should not be overfilled to avoid the oil temperature from dropping too quickly. The quantities you may use as a reference for deep-frying are two hundred grams of food for every litre of oil, or one hundred and fifty grams if the food is frozen. Once you have finished frying it, the food should be set on absorbent paper to drain the excess oil.
Finally, you should eat fried food with moderation, and always include it in a diet that is as varied as possible.
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