While home cooks can deep fry in almost any heavy pot or pan as long as the sides are deep enough, you can be facing a lot of cleanup as well as figuring out how to discard the oil. In this guide you will learn how to clean a home deep fryer and tips to keep your fried foods tasting great.
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7 Steps To Cleaning Your Deep Fryer
Depending on your deep fryer model you may or may not have a drain spout or filtration system. For the purposes of this article, we will assume you have a basic electric fryer with oil in it.
- Ensure your deep fryer has cooled to room temperature before attempting to clean it or remove the oil. Note: Your oil might need to be warm if you’re planning on filtering and reusing it.
- Turn your deep fryer off and unplug the cord. If it is a detachable cord, completely detach it and set aside.
- Remove the basket and place in a sink where you can clean with warm soapy water. If food particles are stuck to the basket, you may need to let it soak in hot water for a couple of hours to loosen them.
- Drain the oil from your fryer. If you plan on reusing your oil, use a filter (paper or cheesecloth) to remove previously fried food particles and drain in to a temporary pot or container. Make sure that you can grip your fryer securely so that you don’t accidently drop it. You may need to clean the handles before doing so. Fryers can be quite heavy and you may need an extra hand to tackle this step.
- Clean the oil holding area of your fryer with a paper towel. If you want to take it a step further, you can use soap and water, but you will need to ensure that it has been rinsed thoroughly and dried 100% before adding oil back in. If it has not dried completely, oil will pop and splatter dangerously the next time you try to deep fry with it.
- Clean the controls, handles and outside of your fryer. Using a damp paper towel with a touch of vinegar works wonders. You don’t want to use a lot of moisture as this will gum up the oil and make it even harder to clean. Not to mention, electronics don’t do well with moisture and can be a safety hazard.
- Refill your deep fryer with oil, replace the basket, and plug it in. Double check that everything is seated correctly and then you can enjoy frying with a clean fryer.
If you're using a dedicated deep fryer, you may be instructed to save and reuse your oil. Be sure to review the shelf life of your chosen oil before putting your fryer into long term storage.
Also be aware that while some fryers offer filtration to remove food particles, used oil can age and grow dark. This darkness is due to oxidation and may result in an unpleasant change in flavor.
Safety Tips For Deep Frying
If you've got a heavy bottomed pan with tall sides, you can deep fry at home. Keep an eye on the temperature, don't put anything in the oil until it's actually hot enough to cook, and be sure to shut everything down if you notice anything smoking.
Of course, if you just use a stock pot or large sauté pan, cleanup is simple. Let the oil cool, discard it and wash the pan. Then clean up all the spatter and oily residue that collects on all the surfaces in your kitchen in the frying process.
What Causes Splatter?
When you drop a raw slice of potato into hot oil, the oil can look as though it's boiling around.
What's really going on, per experts with the United States Department of Agriculture, is that steam is escaping from the rapidly heated food. As steam is driven from the food by the heat of the oil, the outer edge sears and you get a crispy fried potato.
Frozen foods dropped into hot oil produce the most spatter because the change in water temperature is extreme. To avoid the mess and danger of hot oil splashing back at you, place the food on paper towels and blot away as much ice as possible.
Oils For Deep Frying?
You can fry in any oil that has a high smoke point. Peanut oil generally won't smoke, darken or burn until 450 degrees Fahrenheit / 232 degree Celsius. While all oils will darken and change flavor over time, peanut oil can be reused repeatedly if stored correctly.
SEE ALSO: Best Oils For Deep Frying
Cooking experts with Bon Appetit offer guidance on manual filtration and storing your used oil. They also remind us that your oil will hold onto the flavors of what you cook.
If you start your frying with fish tacos, that oil will taste like fish when you next prepare chicken. Be prepared to discard if the flavor is too much.
How To Dispose Of Old Cooking Oil
Disposing of your old fryer oil down the sink drain is the worst possible thing you could do. Once the oil has cooled it will clog up your pipes. If this happens, running hot water may not bail you out of the situation.
There are a few ways to dispose of it, once it has cooled:
- Put it in a container and bring to your local waste management system if applicable.
- Put it in a plastic bag and put in your regular trash.
- Reuse old coffee containers by filling it up with used oil and discarding in the trash.
- If you aren’t able to dispose of it quickly, you can put it in a disposable container and freeze it.
There are commercial products that can turn your oil in to a gel, which can make it easier to remove from your fryer.
Note: You should never dump your used oil in your compost pile or garden. Many oils don’t break down quickly and can cause issues such as mold and attract unwanted pests.
Whether you're using a dedicated deep fryer or a pan on your stove top, be vigilant about keeping your oil level far from the top of the pan. This will provide a safe zone for oil to spatter without putting your skin at risk and without making a huge mess.
In addition, also take care to fry in small batches. If you overload the oil, the temperature of the oil will change radically. Once the oil temperature drops, what you're cooking will absorb oil and develop a greasy texture, rather than crisping up.
Finally, if you're using a cooking pot on top of your stove, consider investing in a spatter screen. These mesh covers will protect your skin and cooktop from the spray of hot oil as you observe your food.
When It's Time To Put The Fryer Away
The best way to clean a deep fryer is once it's completely cooled. If your fryer has an oil storage process, allow this to complete before disassembling. Wash all components either in warm soapy water with a degreasing soap or in the dishwasher if compatible.
No matter how old the oil is, discard it at the end of your frying session and start fresh.
There are many simple and easy to clean deep fryer tools on the market, but these are generally just an oil vessel and a heating element.
If your deep fryer features an oil filtration process, review the manufacturer's instructions so you can safely store filtered oil while you perform a clean-up after each deep frying session.
If you're fond of frying at home, a dedicated deep fryer is a great investment. Investing in a unit that filters your oil will save money in the long run as peanut oil is not cheap.
Take care to completely drain your fryer when the oil shows signs of aging and clean it with a degreaser per the manufacturer's instructions.
If you're not keen on cleaning your deep fryer anymore, consider an air fryer that removes the need for food to be submersed in oil.
Did you enjoy this guide? Let us know in the comments with your questions and favorite deep fryer cleaning tips.