Eat and Drink
According to healthy eating advocate, the Chip Group, Kiwis eat 7 million servings of chips a week, which means the deep-frying cooking vats in the country are probably busy all day and night.
It also means you could be visiting a chippie who might be so busy he is less than vigilant about what type of cooking oil he uses or how fresh he keeps it.
“We are trying to educate people on how to look after oil and the best kind to use,” Cookright franchisee Jim Hammersley says.
He admits it has sometimes been a hard road.
“There are issues around cost because better quality oils and good maintenance of fryers do cost but, generally, better quality oil that is filtered and replaced regularly will produce a better customer experience.”
Cookright collects and recycles cooking oils from cafes, restaurants and other commercial kitchens around New Zealand. In Christchurch, Hammersley and his three fellow franchisees service nearly 300 deep fat fryers a week.
Depending on how busy the establishment has been, the oil might get filtered and replaced on a two-weekly cycle or, if the venue is exceptionally busy, it might be replaced after one night. For instance, at the new AMI stadium, its 35 frying vats are cleaned and the oil replaced after every game.
"Clean oil sears the chips, creating crunch, while dirty oil boils them, leaving them soggy and oil-sodden," Hammersley says.
“If the oil in the fryer looks dark and your chips arrive more brown than golden, it's a sign your chippie needs to change his oil."
Changing the oil is not a complicated process. First, a sprinkling of Hammersley's special “micro magic filtering powder” absorbs sediment, carbon deposits and fatty acids. Then, using a New Zealand-designed and built machine, the oil is sucked out of the vat and through a filter that catches the particles attracted by the powder. Once empty, any remaining crumbs are removed and the vat wiped down, then the cleaned oil is returned to the vat, ready to be fired up again.
Each reusable, washable filter collects about a litre of “gunk” that is discarded. When the oil is replaced it is pumped into a container that is then collected by Solid Energy for its biodiesel programme. For every tonne of used cooking oil provided to make Biogold biodiesel, New Zealand's carbon dioxide emissions are reduced by at least two tonnes when compared to using mineral diesel. It also helps clear the air, reducing particulate emissions by up to 50 per cent.
In Christchurch, the city council uses more than 500,000 litres of biofuel a year at various sites around the city, including at the Botanical Gardens, Cowles and Pioneer stadiums, Linwood Nursery and the waste water treatment plant, while off Southland's coast, it is used in fishing boats.
Between them, the four Christchurch Cookright franchisees maintain the city's deep-frying vats with more than 10,000 litres of oil a month. They use canola oil imported from Canada. “That's the home of canola oil,” Hammersley says. “It has no cholesterol, no trans fats and only about 7 per cent saturated fat.” That compares to the nearly 50 per cent saturated fat in palm oil. “You can always tell when chips are cooked in palm oil,” he says, “because of the greasy coating you'll feel in your mouth. Canola oil has a good mouth feel.”
Hammersley says he is getting increasing requests for rice bran oil as it has a high smoke point and mild flavour, as well as being a healthy oil alternative.
It is a greasy business that takes Hammersley into city kitchens. It is that part of the job he loves the most. He says kitchens have a "unique buzz all of their own" and he says he is enjoying the growing number reopening. "We lost about 40 per cent of our business overnight after the earthquake, so it's good places are starting to reopen and to see the fryers cranking up again."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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