A fryer is one of the key items of cooking equipment for a pub, as frozen potato and protein products are often a dominant feature of the menu.
Choosing the right fryer for a pub needs a careful assessment of the total volumes of food fried in an average week, but also the highs and lows of demand for fried food during the day.
The performance measure of a fryer is usually given by a manufacturer in the weight of chips per hour the fryer can produce. That is a good indication of output, but basing your buying decision on kilos of chips per hour assumes an even demand throughout the day, which seldom happens.
For many pubs there are huge surges of demand for chips and other fried foods at lunchtime and in the evening. A better way to assess how much frying capacity is required is to calculate what is needed at peak service times. If fried food is being delivered from the kitchen from lunchtime until late, a single powerful fryer could be the right choice.
If there are periods of the day when demand on the fryer is light, then splitting the maximum capacity between two fryers rather than using a single big one allows one fryer to be used for chips and the second for other fried products, helping to speed up delivery at peak times.
A further advantage of this arrangement is that in quiet periods one fryer can be turned off to save energy.
A key feature to look for when choosing a fryer is heat recovery time, which a manufacturer will almost certainly be able to give.
When frozen food is lowered into a fryer, the usual oil temperature is 170 to 180C. The oil temperature will rapidly fall following the introduction of frozen food, typically to around 160 to 165C when the basket is filled to the maximum recommended capacity.
Heat recovery time is how fast the fryer can get back to the optimum frying temperature. This is important to achieve crispness and good browning, and to avoid excess oil absorption into the food.
Another feature to look out for is energy efficiency. One way a fryer can be more energy efficient is to have a standby mode, in which the thermostat cools the oil down to below frying temperature when the fryer is not in use. In standby mode, the fryer does not switch off completely, so when an order comes into the kitchen it takes just a few minutes for the oil to get back to 180ÞC.
Gas or electric?
There is no clear answer as to which is better. Both have their own distinctive advantages. If the kitchen is churning out high volumes of fried food, particularly chips, then gas-powered fryers may be dearer to buy, but will be cheaper to run. However, there have been advances in the technology of electric fryers and the operation cost and performance between gas and electric can be negligible. Servicing costs on gas fryers may be slightly higher because of the need to check the gas system.
CESA, the Catering Equipment Suppliers Association, has information on buying and using every kind of kitchen equipment. Learn more and find a supplier by visiting www.cesa.org.uk