Types: Fryers can be generally classified as tabletop or free-standing units.
For electric fryers, the heat-transfer system, also known as the elements, is always inside the frypot. Gas fryers that have the heat source inside the frypot are referred to as tube fryers. Those with the heat source located outside of the frypot are open-pot fryers. A gas fryer with an external heat source will typically utilize either infrared or atmospheric burner systems.
Capacities/Footprints: Fryer oil capacities range from 20 to 160 pounds. The types of foods cooked and the peak production demand of the operation determine both the type and size of fryer needed.
The smallest free-standing fryers are the oil-conserving, 30-pound capacity units, which in some cases can cook as much food as can be cooked in a 50-pound frypot. Larger-capacity fryers are generally in the 100-pound range.
Manufacturers also rate their units based on the number of pounds of french fries they can prepare in one hour. Generally, fryers produce a volume that is from one and a quarter to one and a half times the weight of the oil they will hold. Thus, a countertop model with an oil capacity of 20 lbs. can produce about 30 lbs. of fries per hour. High-volume 80-lb. units can produce more than 100 lbs. of fries per hour.
Energy Sources: Gas or electric models are available. Electric fryers typically use 14, 17 or 22 kilowatts per hour, require 120, 220 or 240 volts service, and feature a 6-foot cord. Gas models provide between 30,000 and 150,000 Btu per hour, depending on the model.
Manufacturing Method: Most fryers are made with stainless steel frypots, cabinet fronts and doors. Cabinet sides may be galvanized, cold-rolled steel with enamel paint or stainless steel. Frypots come equipped with full-port ball drains or similarly designed valves to enable draining and prevent clogging. Heating elements are most often made of ribbon-style steel.
Standard Features: These include dial or computer-controlled thermostats, adjustable steel legs, wire baskets, stainless steel fronts and sides and lockable casters.
New Features/Technology/Options: Automated basket lifts are a popular fryer option in high-volume operations, since they can help save labor. Programmable controls provide increased product consistency.
Fryer accessories include stainless steel tank covers, grease-protector strips, stainless steel crumb scoops, swivel casters with brakes and frypot brushes.
Key Kitchen Applications: Gas tube fryers are geared toward high-volume frozen, fresh and wet breaded products, high-production peak demands and large loads. Gas open-pot fryers are more suited to operations preparing fresh and frozen breaded products and handling high-production peak demands and small to large loads, but these operations should also consider electric fryers. Flat-bottom fryers work best with foods that float, such as tempura foods, funnel cakes and donuts; and wet-battered foods, such as fish. Pressure fryers should be used with high-volume, large-cut, bone-in chicken.
Purchasing Guidelines: Consider the operation's utilities (gas or electric) before purchasing. The menu and the peak production demand of the operation drive the type (open pot, tube type or flat bottom) and size (oil capacity and power) of the fryer(s) that will optimally serve the operation. Also look at cooking control and automation (basket lifts, built-in filtration) requirements. The more precise the cooking needs of the food, the more sophisticated the control needs to be.
Maintenance Requirements: Frypot oil should be filtered daily, and frypots should be wiped down every day as well. Operators should boil out the frypot to remove built-up residue at least monthly.