Cooking oil is an essential commodity in any catering facility, unfortunately as we are all aware the price has been climbing steadily since the middle of 2006. This price increase is due mainly to the increase in Bio-diesel production which has increased demand for vegetable oils on the world market.
As cooking oil is traded as a commodity this has led to the high prices that we have seen, with the price of even a basic oil now being pushed over £1 or €1.20 per ltr. Also having an impact on what you pay for your cooking oil is the value of crude mineral oil, this increases the value of biodiesel, therefore manufacturers are willing to pay higher for vegetable oil, also speculators have seen vegetable oil as a good investment, also increasing its value - and so the vicious circle continues and increases the market price.
Tip – if you are looking for a new supplier shop around for what you think is the current market price then try to fix one supplier at this price for as long a period as possible.
Types of Frying Oils & Fats:
There are two main frying mediums for deep fat fryers, vegetable oils or animal fats.
Vegetable oils are used mainly by restaurants as their main frying medium; these oils are seen as healthier and therefore more appealing than animal fats. Some Chip shops will use vegetable oil for blanching chips prior to finishing in dripping.
Animal fat is used mainly in Fish and Chip shops, favoured because of the traditional flavours that it imparts to the food.
Vegetable oils are available in a number of formats, 5ltr plastic drums, 15ltr Bottle in Box (Light weight plastic bottle inside a cardboard liner), or 20ltr Bottle in Box or steel drum. There has also been a plastic bag in a cardboard box launched recently. In certain areas bulk supplies into 100ltr tanks permanently in your kitchen are available.
Tip: A general rule of thumb for vegetable oil is the darker the colour and more viscous the oil, the higher the quality.
Soy vegetable oil (From the Soy plant) is the most economically priced, and most widely used, frying oil available. It tends to be lighter in colour and less viscous than Rapeseed oil and is liquid at room temperature.
Rapeseed vegetable oil (From the rapeseed plant) tends to be darker in colour and slightly more viscous than Soy oil. The price tends to be 10-20% higher than Soy, but it gives extra usable life and better quality fried food, and a slightly different taste – it also tends not to “gum up” around the outside edge of the fryer compared with Soy – It is liquid at room temperature and is generally supplied in 15 or 20ltr drums.
Peanut oil can be used as a deep frying medium, used in very few locations due in part to concerns over allergies it gives a unique taste to the food.
Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil:
Oil that has been passed through a Hydrogenation process, a chemical process that extends the usable life of the oil. It is semi solid at room temperature. In recent times this oil has had some bad press in relation to health impact due to high Trans Fat levels.
Used as a frying medium mainly at industrial scale, eg for crisps. Is also promoted to the home user as the healthier choice.
The only vegetable oil that is solid at room temperature it is more often used in Chip Shops as a replacement for beef dripping.
Fat from cattle (Tallow) and pigs (Lard) are the main types used for deep fat frying. There are many different qualities of beef tallow for frying are available, mainly depending on the age of the cattle from which it is sourced.
Animal fat is used in Fish & Chip Shops, with beef dripping being the most popular, as a traditional frying medium, it is solid at room temperature and melts at 40-50oC.
Natural beef dripping retains the flavour and smell of the source material, normally available in 10kg blocks
Refined and deodorised tallow:
Refined & Deodorised beef dripping has been processed to remove the natural flavour and smell, normally available in 12.5kg blocks, although some suppliers provide 10kg or 20kg boxes which have 4x2.5kg or 5kg individual blocks inside for ease of handling.
Lard which is sourced from pigs is also used as a deep fry medium, but in a very few locations.