When it comes to professional cooking equipment, pressure fryers (or pressure cookers) just might be the most misunderstood. Henny Penny introduced the first commercial pressure fryer in 1957 and even after all these years, there are still many misconceptions about how it works and who should use it.
It’s time for us to set the record straight – let’s bust these common myths and get to the facts.
MYTH #1: Pressure frying was invented for a very specific reason and is no longer necessary
Chester Wagner (who founded Henny Penny) invented the first pressure fryer because he couldn’t serve his famous fried chicken fast enough. He set out to build a better fryer for high volume restaurants like his own, and Henny Penny was born.
It’s been rumored that pressure fryers were created to cook free-range chickens with tough muscles which required significant time to break down and tenderize. This myth argues that today’s chickens don’t have tough muscles like the chickens of the past, so pressure frying is no longer necessary. This is simply not true.
Pressure frying is extremely prevalent in kitchens around the globe – and it’s still growing in popularity since the quality and taste cannot be replicated in an open fryer. Successful chicken chains often use pressure fryers in their kitchens, sometimes alongside open fryers for crispier products.
At the end of the day, choosing between an open vs. pressure fryer comes down to desired flavor and texture. It’s all about the culinary outcome you’re looking for.
MYTH #2: The fryer lid heats up and cooks the food
This is just one of many myths about how exactly pressure frying works. The purpose of the lid is to create a sealed, pressurized cooking environment within the fry pot.
Once food is lowered into the hot oil and the lid is sealed, pressure increases the boiling point of water. With a higher boiling point under pressure, less of the product’s moisture is lost and it can cook faster. This is important because the lower the boiling point of water, the more moisture has to cook out to cook the product to temp.
To put this in context, products that are cooked under pressure retain more moisture. That’s why deep-fried chicken is crispy and crunchy when prepared in a traditional open fryer while pressure fried chicken is juicy and tender – the pressurized chicken retained more moisture!
MYTH #3: It’s only for bone-in chicken
While pressure frying is certainly ideal for bone-in proteins, it’s great for chicken filets, tenders, nuggets, etc. Take Chick-fil-A for example – their legendary chicken menu is fried under pressure, but not a single item is bone-in.
MYTH #4: It’s only for chicken, bone-in or not
Aside from chicken, many fried foods can be prepared in a pressure fryer.
Other proteins with natural juices, such as steaks or ribs, can be pressure fried. Lightly breaded potato wedges are also excellent when pressure fried. In fact, many popular supermarkets and convenience stores use pressure fryers for this menu item in addition to chicken.
MYTH #5: No open frying in a pressure fryer
While we don’t advise it for high volume kitchens that need to be extremely efficient, pressure fryers can also be used as open fryers. It’s as simple as leaving the lid open during the cook cycle.
This is great for tight kitchens and for small-to-mid-size operators who want to offer a versatile menu while keeping the equipment investment at a minimum.
MYTH #6: Pressure frying uses more oil
Actually, the opposite is true! When switching from open to pressure frying, we see operators consistently doubling their oil life. Here’s how pressure fryers combat the enemies of oil:
Heat – Pressure fryers cook at lower temperatures.
Air – Pressure fryer lid is closed most of the time.
Moisture – Pressure frying seals moisture into the fried product, and a faster cook cycle minimizes oil damage.
Whether you’re open or pressure frying, we’ve got free oil management resources to help you reduce costs and extend oil life!
MYTH #7 It makes food items greasy
All deep fryers have the potential to produce greasy food items, but this can be avoided by managing the temperature of your cooking oil.
Our food scientists tell us that the first few seconds of a pressure fryer’s cook cycle are crucial for setting the breading on the product. Basically, if you have a heavily breaded product and begin cooking at a temperature of 310-320 degrees Fahrenheit, things can get a little greasy. Easily combat this by programming the fryer to cook at a higher temperature in the beginning and then drop to a lower temperature once the breading is set.
Another thing with pressure frying – people sometimes confuse grease with overall moisture content. Pressure frying seals in moisture, meaning the end product is extra juicy, tender, and delicious.
MYTH #8: The filtering process is difficult
The filtering process isn’t difficult here since built-in oil filtration systems come standard on every Henny Penny pressure fryer. There is no need for kitchen crew members to struggle with time-consuming, dangerous, and dirty manual filtration – filtering can be taken care of with ease.
MYTH #9: The shape of the fry pot doesn’t matter
With pressure frying, the shape of the fry pot plays a critical role in cooking temperature and product consistency. Rectangular fry pots are proven to generate consistent turbulence throughout the entire cooking chamber with zero cold spots. This way, products can be cooked safely at 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a circular fry pot, the convection just spins, leaving a cold spot in the center of the frying area where the food is being cooked (picture the center of a tornado). To guarantee the food is fully cooked in a fryer like this, the temperature of the oil must be increased by 25-35 degrees compared to a rectangular pot.
MYTH #10: Any amount of pressure (PSI) is fine
Pounds per square inch (PSI) is a measurement used to gauge the force generated in a pressurized cooking environment.
While it’s true that a lower PSI still seals in a lot of moisture and tenderizes while cooking, it won’t be as fast because the boiling point of water is not raised as much.
Henny Penny pressure fryers are equipped with a 12 PSI deadweight*, which raises the boiling point of water to ~242 degrees Fahrenheit and allows for significantly quicker cook cycles.
For context, if we used an 8 PSI deadweight, the boiling point of water would be just over 230 degrees. Drop to a 4 PSI deadweight, and the boiling point is down to ~225 degrees.
*The PSI of any commercial pressure fryer can be found on the manufacturer’s data sheet.
Learn More About Pressure Frying
Our authorized distributors are pressure frying experts that are always happy to answer any specific questions you have. Schedule a commitment-free, educational product demo today and find out if pressure frying is right for your foodservice operation.
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