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I just got my first ever deep fryer yesterday. Looking round in the shops, I found that I can get bottled frying oil, or a white solid block type of fat which I've never used before, I guess it may be lard (but I'm not sure this is the right word, as I'm not a native speaker).

In terms of handling, is there any benefit of using the solid stuff over frying oil or sunflower oil? (For example, I'm not sure if the white stuff would get solid again when cooled ...)

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The solid block type might be hydrogenated vegetable oil (shortening, Crisco is a well-known brand). Cheaper than lard (pig fat). –  derobert Oct 24 '11 at 16:26
    
It might also be beef tallow, if it's in Germany. –  MSalters Oct 25 '11 at 8:49

11 Answers 11

For the very best tasting fries, onion rings and battered fish are fried in fat made from rendered beef fat. When I was a cook we rendered down a thousand pounds of beef fat a week, it took days to do. But it made the very best tasting savory deep fried foods. The burning temperature is lowish, so food needs to be cooked at 325 and changed more often. It's not good for things like doughnuts.

I'm not a fan of Canola, I find it often has a taste which I don't like. I don't use peanut mostly due to habit, too many people I've run into with allergies. I can't find rendered beef fat and I'm not going to render it at home.

At home I use a mixture of Sunflower and lard, about 1 part to 3 parts. The sunflower oil makes it easier to handle when filtering through a very fine mesh sieve (more liquid at a lower temperature) after use, then I put it in an old olive oil can which I refrigerate between uses. I leave out overnight before I use it then warm in hot water to pour it out. I don't usually use more then once a month. The more crumbs and batter bits you filter out the longer the fat will remain good. So filter, and don't pour the last bit into the can.

Refrigerated the oil mix doesn't go bad before it becomes no good to use. I get well over a years use. I love sunflower oil, it has almost no taste at all and a high smoke temp. It is pricey.

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Great answer. Do you use that for fried chicken? What do you use for doughnuts? –  Rob Nov 4 '12 at 20:18

First and foremost choose a frying medium with a high enough smoke point. You don't want to risk your oil deteriorating before it reaches the temperature you want it to be at. Now, if you'd like to use an oil, I say go for a something neutral in flavor: canola or peanut. If you are looking at using an animal fat, lard from Pigs is the most common. If rendered properly it shouldn't affect the flavor of your foods in an overly negative way.

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The best thing to fry, or deep fry with is actually old-fashioned lard. Yes, it is full of saturated fats, but it withstands very high temperatures. Olive oil does not have a very high heating point, and once again, the polyunsaturated fats are transformed. I'm not saying to eat something fried or deep fried in lard every day, but once in a while, and if you want it to be good, use lard.

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Citing references is beside the point. This is a food and cooking site, not a health and nutrition site (see the faq); I've edited out the off-topic part of your answer. –  Jefromi Oct 3 '12 at 5:50

If it's solid at room temperature, then it's either saturated fat or largely trans-unsaturated fat.

The former is what humans have used for cooking for centuries and is biologically safe. It is also what I would personally recommend.

The latter is from a manufactured process and was originally created so as to be solid at room temperature. (There is considerable dispute about whether we should be even using this kind of fat to cook with.)

Both will return to solid after cooking.

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I have found that mixing corn oil with equal parts Crisco make an oil that can be heated relatively high, with little to very little taste.

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I recently learned of an oil called " rice bran oil ". This oil has a smokepoint of 490 degrees. Since most commercial places I've contacted say foods are best fried at 350-375, this makes very good sense. I was told this frying temp keeps the food from being soggy. It cost about the same as peanut oil but has a higher smokepoint. You can buy it in bulk and it's cheaper. I got mine from Riceland Foods in Arkansas.

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Since I find myself unable to source certifiably natural lard, when I do fry, I use coconut oil. Coconuts are in fact, mostly saturated fat and hence more stable, having a fairly high heat tolerance. Again, if I could get my hands on quality lard, I'd use it when needed. I use butter for pan frying.

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This is a food and cooking site, not a health and nutrition site (see the faq); I've edited out the off-topic part of your answer. –  Jefromi Oct 3 '12 at 5:47

Hard fats such as lard or dripping I find give things much more flavour.

I normally go for a relatively neutral oil such as groundnut or sunflower.

What you are cooking will also effect what you want to use, as different fats have different smoke points and it may be that what you are trying to fry requires more heat than the fat can handle safely.

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Discussing such studies is beside the point. This is a food and cooking site, not a health and nutrition site (see the faq); I've edited out the off-topic part of your answer. –  Jefromi Oct 3 '12 at 5:51

In the interests of safety, most modern deep fat fryers say NO lard, butter, etc. (hard fats). The manufacturers don't say why but I've heard many people conjecture that lard heats up, smokes, maybe burns when exposed to fairly high temperatures (over 370F. or 185C.). My theory is that the heating coils on the deep fat fryer overheat the lard if it is used in its hard form.

We have real lard (from a real pig raised on a real farm -- not a huge farm where pigs lead a short and brutal life). Then we rendered it ourselves which is not hard at all.

We are just about to try cooking french fries (British, chips) in our new deep fat fryer. We have melted the lard, strained it and poured it in, as one would with canola oil, etc.

Wish us luck, please. I'll try to report back on this scary adventure in cooking!

UPDATE: Okay, that didn't work too well. The fries never did brown even after 15 minutes at 320F. and then 12 minutes at 370F. (ordinarily 5 to 7 minutes at the lower, cooled, then 2 minutes at the higher). Cooked but not browned. So I threw a few in a fry pan and burned them a bit. Oh dear. Did I mention we are at 3000 feet above sea level? This makes a bit of a difference in cooking. My friend (bless her heart) said she loves blond french fries and ate them up. I was not quite so pleased!

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what about plain vegetable oil?

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We're looking for long answers that provide some explanation and context. Don't just give a one-line answer; explain why your answer is right, ideally with citations. Answers that don't include explanations may be removed.

Lard does not contain any trans fats at all.It is also 45% Saturated fat and the rest is Monosaturated and polyunsaturated fats.

Lard is best brought to heating point for the first time and a couple of slices of bread "fried" for a few minutes without frying anything else . Then let it cool down and go hard again. The next time you use it the smell will have gone and the chips will brown nicely.

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Please don't use health arguments here, they are hard to prove in any way. See the faq for detail. –  rumtscho Oct 24 '12 at 9:19

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