Operating fryers in a food truck is a challenge: Limited space, dangerous temperatures and burned oil. Alexander Schauf, VITO AG, explains how to avoid mistakes.

Preparing fried food in a tight space isn’t easy. What are the biggest challenges and mistakes?

Starting with the choice of the right frying oil and food is crucial! But an even bigger challenge is preparing a well cooked and high-quality product in a very tight space. And never forget about the maintenance after a busy day: Fryers need to be cleaned and the oil maintained. Very often also too small fryers are used that cannot handle the volume especially during rush hours! Because of that big but preventable mistakes happen. Examples would be overfilling of the fryer baskets and too high temperatures leading to burned oil and ultimately a low food quality.

What do we need to pay attention to when finding the right oil?

Best choice would be a plant-based oil a taste and odor less as possible. Especially in food trucks mostly gas fryers are used. This fact makes it crucial to choose high temperature resistant oil with a high smoke point that can manage its stressful task. When choosing an oil put your money on quality. These quality oils certainly have a larger price tag but in combination with the right handling and filtration can last a lot longer than low quality oils. This leads to a lower cost and a better food quality.

What needs a food truck operator closely pay attention to when it comes to temperature, filtration cooking time and oil life? Are there any differences to a typical commercial kitchen?

Basically, there is no difference in the frying process between a food truck and any other kitchen. Only difference would be a faster preparation expected by the customer. In regard to product quality following basic rules of frying should be followed: Frying oil should not be heated past 350°F. Additionally, there should be a standard set and followed of much food is filled in the frying baskets. This ensures the same outcome and a planable frying time. The optimal ratio is 1:10 (1 lbs. food :10 lbs. oil) and should not be higher. To keep an optimal quality even after days of using the same oil it should be filtered after every service. Currently our VITO oil filter systems offer the worldwide finest filtration. The best part, especially for a tight food truck, is short and convenient usage. The system is directly placed in the fryer and filters the hot oil within 4.5 minutes achieving oil savings up to 50%.

When is the right time to change the oil? What are the difficulties for a food truck? Frying oil should be changed when it is not safe to use anymore. Depending on the country you are in different regulations determine that point. For example, in Germany, where we manufacture, food controllers set a maximum TPM (Total Polar Material) of 24%, other countries, for example the USA, allow values of up to 28% TPM. To measure these TPM values simple to use tools like our VITO oiltester or FT440 are available.

Are there comparable solutions other than a frying oil filter?

One method would be straining the oil through a mesh. This method only removes larger chunks and leaves finer particles behind, which are the higher risk to the oil quality, since they will keep on burning in your oil for hours. Another option would be a fryer with integrated filter system.