Color is the Fastest and Easiest Way to Know if You Can Reuse Fryer Oil
We often get questions such as "can you reuse fryer oil," and "what does the color of frying oil mean/how it relates to the fried food quality that lands on my customer's plates." When it comes to frying food, as with much of cooking, it's both an art than a science.
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The short answer is yes, you can reuse fryer oil, and the color of the oil you are frying with definitely contributes to the fried food's quality and aesthetics. If you fry in dark oil, the outcome will be the same on the plate, a dark and inconsistently colored final product. The goal is crisp, delicious golden fried food. The color of the oil is a good, yet subjective, measure of the fried foods' overall quality.
What causes oil to darken?
The type of food fried has the most influence on the darkening or colorization of the oil. For instance, you would see less color production from frying french fries than you would breaded chicken wings. The reason is the components that are released from the food. Things like sugar, proteins, and crumbs all contribute to color development. Batters and breading contain trace metals and reducing sugars (browning agents), both of which will contribute to oil darkening.
Other aspects of the fryer that can contribute to discoloration are water, cleaning chemicals, and high temperatures.
Can I use oil color as a measure of quality?
The short answer is yes. This is more difficult to answer because the color does not always correlate to the oil's quality. Especially if you are using naturally dark oil like palm oil. However, studies comparing frying oil color and oil degradation (FFA, etc.) conclude overwhelmingly that there is a positive relationship between color and quality.
In other words, the darker the oil, the more degraded it will become. A consequence of frying with over-used frying oil is the more degraded it is, the higher the absorption of oil by the food. This leads to dark, soggy food on the plate. Not a good look!
The most important thing to remember is to NEVER judge your oil color by how it looks in a fryer.
Maintaining your frying oil
Frying Oil Color Management Checklist
Use a high-quality frying oil.
Ensure your temperature controls are always accurate and in good working order:
Thermocouple Clean and Reading Accurate Temps
High Limit Operational
Filter oil to remove food and fine particulate.
Use a frying oil cleaning product like FreshFry Pods!