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Deep fat fryers come in two basic configurations: the less expensive single-basket types, which are normally round in shape and come in a variety of colours and finishes, and the larger-volume 'professional' type, which are generally rectangular and often come with double baskets that can be used independently of each other, and so are best suited to those with larger families or who wish to fry different foods at the same time.

Whichever type you decide on, the most important thing to check is the capacity of the machine, as the smallest models won't be able to handle much more than a couple of portions of chips at a time, whereas larger models can cook for four or five people at once. While the more mathematical of us may be able to work out what we need from the cubic measurements stated in the manufacturer's specifications, most people are better off just taking a look inside the basket and judging by eye whether there's enough room in the basket for their needs.

Although not essential to the finished result of the food, it's always worth looking for a model that isn't too difficult to clean, as deep fat frying can be a messy business. Many fryers have dishwasher-safe parts, and some even come completely apart to allow for a thorough clean. Models with non-stick bowls will stay cleaner longer and be easier to wash up, while machines that feature a drain pipe make draining away used oil much less of a hassle. If you can, go for a fryer with a separate tank for the oil, which enables the oil to be taken away and kept until your next fry-up, so you can pack away the rest of the machine until you need it.

If you want that crispy chip shop result, you can now find models where the basket turns around automatically or even dips in and out of the oil as it cooks. These features not only cook food much evenly, they also use much less oil than simpler types of deep-fat fryer.

Always go for a machine that has at least one indicator light to tell you when the oil is hot enough, as putting your food in oil at too low a temperature will give you a nasty, soggy plate of food. Also make sure that the fryer has either permanent (washable) or charcoal filters to keep your kitchen free of any greasy smells. If you choose one with replaceable filters, check the price of new filters before you commit. If you are adventurous in the kitchen, you should also think about choosing a model with a range of temperature settings, as different foods will cook better at different heat levels. You can now even find fryers that can double as steamers or slow-cookers, depending on the settings and liquids you use within them.

And finally, if you tend to get distracted and lose track of time, you should insist on a model that features a timer than buzzes to alert you when the perfect frying time has expired, unless you're a big fan of frazzled food.



Author R. Germain
date added Wed 16 09 2009

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