10 Best Deep Fryers | March 2017
- 10 preprogrammed functions
- 3 frying baskets are included
- slow temperature recovery time
- removable lid with steam vent
- very affordable price
- basket capacity is limited
- magnetic and detachable cord
- built-in condensation shield
- drain spout tends to clog easily
- enamel-coated oil container
- cool-touch handle
- doesn't have an auto drainage system
- ready indicator light
- 99-minute countdown timer
- compact countertop design
- dishwasher safe components
- 2-position fry basket is easy to use
- seals in moisture and flavor
- stainless steel construction
- v-bottom no-scorch design
- built-in extension legs
Nothing Beats The Browning
If you've ever wondered why foods brown as you cook them, why breads and pretzels develop that perfect brown, crusty exterior, or why french fries deepen in color on the outside, you simply have to consult French chemist Louis Camille Maillard. Unfortunately, Mr. Maillard died in 1936, so communing with him is a little tough, but his discovery was so monumental in the world of food chemistry that they went ahead and named it after him.
The Maillard reaction occurs when a substance containing both sugars and proteins reaches a certain temperature, usually between 284 and 329 degrees Fahrenheit. At temperatures above this, the reaction happens alongside caramelization, a process by which browning sugars unleash an organic chemical called diacetyl, which boasts an incredibly nutty, buttery flavor.
When you deep fry any food, the desired oil temperature usually falls somewhere between 350 and 375 degrees Fahrenheit, hot enough to induce both the typical Maillard reaction and a healthy turn of caramelization. The hot oil also provides an additional reaction, which is the rapid dehydration of the food being fried.
A piece of food submerged in hot oil will cook quickly and from all sides, its moisture rapidly withdrawing into the oil and evaporating from the intense heat. That could spell disaster for certain foods, like meats, unless you have a way to protect them. This is where breading comes in.
If you took a piece of chicken and dropped it bare in a deep fryer, it would emerge cooked, but awfully dry. Take that same piece of chicken, cook it slowly and properly outside the fryer to preserve its juices, then bread it and fry it, and it will emerge cooked to juicy perfection and encased in a delicious, breaded crust.
The reason for this is that the breading browns, caramelizes, and dehydrates so quickly that it forms a kind of protective shell around the food, allowing the cooked chicken inside to reheat (breading won't stick as well to hot meats; best to let them cool before frying), while maintaining all its juiciness and flavor.
Get Fit With Fat
Since deep frying requires a vat of oil that doesn't dip anywhere below 350 degrees Fahrenheit for more than a few seconds, it's imperative that you have a deep fryer capable of maintaining high temperatures, even as you add cold food to the vat. Most of the deep fryers on our list are electric, increasing the temperature of their oil through the use of powerful heating elements, not unlike those of an electric stove.
There are also models that hook up to a propane line so that you can use actual fire underneath your fryer. The advantage of these is cost, as it requires a tremendous amount of electricity to heat the oil and keep it hot, where a steady flame from a propane tank is only as expensive as the gas refills.
Whichever style of fryer you eventually take home, it's important to remember that fat can be your friend in the 21st century. A variety of low-carb diets popularized throughout the 1980s and 1990s came close to this truth, but fear of fat was still too great for them to break into the best part of it.
It turns out that you can actually utilize your deep fryer to lose weight and regulate your body's systems by going on what's called a ketogenic diet. Ketogenic dieting is based around a state of ketosis, when your body elects to burn fat the way that it normally burns carbs. It takes a few days and a very specific balance of very few carbs, a healthy amount of protein, and an amazing amount of fat to get your body to switch over, but most of the people who do so immediately start to see a burn.
Of course, you can't go deep frying Oreos and donuts if you want the plan to work, but at least you don't have to deny yourself the tastiest food group.
Deep Fried History
While an unhealthy habit of consuming the worst kinds of deep fried foods might be a relatively recent phenomenon, the act of deep frying reaches far back to the days in which we all assume everybody was fit and healthy. We're talking about going way back to the fifth millennium BCE in Egypt, where we find archaeological evidence of deep frying.
The Greeks and Italians were the next civilizations to document any kind of deep frying, and the method quickly spread across Europe and the Middle East, regions that created the funnel cake, the falafel, and the french fry. By the sixteenth century, the practice reached the far east through Japan by way of Portuguese merchants.
While these methods of deep frying were well-documented and enjoyed by the people that ate from them, there was still one major revolution in the craft on the horizon: the American South. Nobody fries food like a southerner. They've given the world donuts, onion rings, corn dogs, deep fried Twinkies and Oreos, and just about every other thing you wouldn't expect a person to deep fry.
Health concerns over the amount of oil in the average American's daily diet are certainly valid, but that has more to do with the foods being fried than with the act of frying itself. If done properly, deep frying can be a healthy, inexpensive addition to a happy kitchen.