PURDUE (US) — A new cooking method keeps the flavor and consistency of fried food but has up to 50 percent less fat and fewer calories.
The “radiant fryer” uses energy similar to sunlight to cook pre-formed food items like chicken patties, hamburgers, and hash browns. Food is placed in wire trays that travel down a conveyor belt with radiant energy elements on either side.
Many foods sold at fast-food restaurants are partially cooked at a factory and quickly frozen. Restaurant workers typically use an oil immersion fryer to finish the process.
“The radiant fryer does not require additional oil to finish the process, which means the food that it cooks could have 30 to 50 percent less oil than food cooked with the traditional frying,” says Kevin Keener, professor of food science at Purdue University. “The food could be more appealing because a person tastes more of the food’s ingredients and less oil.”
The radiant fryer improves upon oil immersion fryers in other ways, too.
“Because the amount of energy used to fry foods can be adjusted, the cook time could be 30 percent faster than the cook time with an oil immersion fryer,” Keener says. “There is little to no oil to handle, which means the radiant fryer could eliminate risks associated with oil fryers, including the thousands of injuries each year from workers being burned.”
The technology could go beyond the fast food industry, Keener says, such as benefiting officials who oversee school lunch programs.
“Kids are familiar with fast food, and they consume a lot of it each year,” he says. “The radiant fryer cooks food in a way that simulates fried fast foods, but with fewer calories and fat. Using the radiant fryer could satisfy kids who crave fast food.”
Although the radiant fryer currently works best with pre-formed, partially fried foods that are consistently shaped, fat content and calories could be further reduced by developing foods specifically for radiant frying.
“Obesity in the United States is a serious health issue,” he says. “Radiant frying is a technology that can achieve desirable finished food qualities while reducing calories and fat content.”
Source: Purdue University