To understand how oil breaks down, it is important to understand the frying process. In essence, frying is a way to decrease the natural moisture in uncooked food. Oil in the fryer conducts heat, which in turn causes the moisture in the food to steam. The steam then escapes into the oil, drying and cooking the food.

The key to frying is making sure the oil in the fryer and the water in the food don't mix. It is as if the outside of the food provides an invisible barrier separating the oil from the food. The stronger the barrier, the cleaner tasting the food.

But as oils breaks down, it, in fact, does start to mix with the water, because surfactants inevitably develop. Surfactants are materials that affect the surface relationship between the oil and the product causing a variety of problems: greasy food, burnt crusts, undercooking and taste transfer.

In essence, maintaining your oil is controlling the level of surfactants in it. The following items identify some of the primary causes of surfactants. And highlights many of the simple steps you can take to maintain peak shortening performance.

    Heat is oils #1 enemy. Setting our temperature too high is sure to make your oil break down faster. It is also sure to cause food that is crusty on the outside yet undercooked inside. Pitco's tube fired design enables you to disperse heat over a wider area so there are far fewer hot spots ruining your oil. When not in use, be sure to keep your oil at the proper temperature.
    Even air breaks down oil. If your oil is starting to bubble, splatter or foam, it can mean your oil is suffering from aeration. To make sure excess oxygen does not get into your shortening, be sure to handle it properly before use. Don't shake it or pour it incorrectly and keep your fryer covered when not in use. Also, be sure to use a filter system, like Pitco's that keeps air - oil contact to a minimum.
    Breading and food pieces are bound to fall into your fryer. The more crumbs there are, and the longer they remain in the fryer, the more likely they are to cause unwanted taste transfer and hasten shortening breakdown. In a Pitco fryer, the larger cool zone keeps these crumbs away from the heat, minimizing their negative impact. Filtering your shortening and cleaning your coils and kettle removes food crumbs and the gummy residue they can cause.
    As an organic material, oil is noticeably sensitive to light. That's why, before use, oils, especially those with the high melt points, should always be stored in light proof containers. And why your fryer should be covered when not in use.
    A few specks of salt can cause a chemical reaction leading to a quick oil breakdown. So never salt your food when it is hanging over the oil. This type of negative reaction can also occur when oil contacts other metals such a copper, zinc, or brass. From baskets to buckets, use only stainless steel or steel plated equipment.
    Moisture is bound to affect your oil. Whether it is the steam that naturally escapes from food, the ice around frozen foods, or condensation collecting around your fryer, it means trouble. Water in your oil is bound to cause a foamy mess and affect the flavor of your fried food. Remedy the situation by drying wet food before frying, purchasing quality products with minimum internal moisture, and regularly wiping your exhaust hood.


Inevitably, your oil will break down. Regularly filtering our oil will substantially extend its life. In fact, oil should be filtered daily, even more frequently if your volume merits.

Filtering your oil removes the crumbs and particles that naturally drop off your food when frying. These crumbs contribute to the formation of polymers and surfactants in our oil, increasing the likelihood of off-flavors and taste transfers between products. Forcing your oil through fine paper mesh during filtering separates the solids from the liquids and removes up to 90% of these contaminants.

It is just as important to remove chemical residue, as it is crumbs. To do so, it is useful to incorporate a filtering treatment. These treatments, ranging from diatomaceous earth to various commercial chemical compounds, remove chemical residues in your shortening.

Pitco's filtering systems are designed to give operators maximum flexibility and convenience. This way, you can choose the system that is most appropriate to your needs and volume. Whether you choose a Spacefighter, a built-in, or a portable unit, you will be able to filter quickly, easily and safely.

Whatever system you choose, how often you filter your oil really is a matter of taste. Your taste for savings because regularly filtering your oil reduces both your shortening costs and the cost per serving. And your taste for customer satisfaction. Because there is no doubt that foods fried in filtered oil will taste better.