The most important characteristic of a fat used for frying is its ability to withstand the high temperature used, without excessive chemical change. Frying is usually carried out at a temperature of about 180°C. At this temperature, the more unsaturated oils tend to oxidize and either breakdown or polymerize quite rapidly.
Oils containing significant levels of linoelic acid are not recommended for frying, unless they have been hydrogenated to reduce the content of these labile components.
Palm oil, with its moderate linoelic acid content and high level of natural antioxidants, is suitable for direct use in most frying applications, and frying is a major use of palm oil worldwide.
Palm oil used domestically, in restaurants, fast food outlets and in large-scale preparation of fried potato products and other snack foods in large-scale food manufacture. In the East, a comparable use is in the preparation of instant noodles. This practice started in Japan, using palm oil to replace animal fats, and is now also common in South Korea and China.
For the large scale frying of potato chips, palm olein or a blend of palm olein with soya or rapeseed oil is preferred. This is because the surface appearance of the finished product is improved. French fries are often purchased as part fried and deep frozen products.
The manufacturing process involves deep-frying followed by rapid cooking and blast freezing. Quick crystallization of the fat used is important and for this reason, a slightly hydrogenated palm oil of melting point 40-42°C is preferred.
Provided good temperature control and cleanliness of the oil by filtration, palm oil products have an exceptionally good life in the frying process and are therefore economical.
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