Kitchen Hacks

For Easier Deep-Frying, Just Add a...Carrot?

December  2, 2015

Deep-frying can be scary, splashy, and smelly. But when you want French toast sticks, fried chicken, Wonder Fries, or cannoli, it's worth it.

And now that Hanukkah is almost upon us, frying's just about inevitable—at least if you're planning to make classic sufganiyot or Amelia Saltsman's zengoula (Iraqi funnel cakes).

Luckily, when we were reading about the recipe in her book The Seasonal Jewish Kitchen, we came across a great "old-fashioned trick" to solve at least one deep-frying problem: the burning of any pieces that float away from the group, and the consequently bitter oil.

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Amelia writes: "A couple of 2-inch (5-centimeter) chunks of raw carrot added to the frying oil act as magnets, attracting all those little brown bits that might otherwise burn and impart an acrid taste to the oil."

Those are carrots next to that donut. Photo by James Ransom

A couple of notes on Amelia's great tip:

  • It works best if you add the carrots along with the food you're frying. Otherwise, the carrots might shrivel up and burn before whatever you're frying is finished.
  • You might have to switch out the carrots in between batches of food—again, to avoid burning the carrots and thus defeating the purpose of the tip.
  • The tip is most handy when you're deep-frying items that have a lot of particulate matter on their exterior—think breaded foods like chicken fingers, croquettes, or mozzarella sticks. That's where you really run the risk of burning particles and where the carrots can truly come in handy.
Look at that clean oil. Photo by James Ransom

Ready to put this trick to use?

Use this old trick and your oil (and food) will be less bitter and gunky—which means you can use it for your next round of zengoula, too.

Got any deep-frying tricks we need to know about? Share with us in the comments!

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beejay45 December 13, 2015
This isn't a frying tip, but cooking carrots with cabbage means no cabbage stink in the house. Don't know why it works, but it does. And the sweetness of carrots is a perfect foil for cabbage.

As for reusing "old" oil, I find that if I have fried something with salt and garlic powder on it, the oil picks up a nice, mildly salty and garlicky flavor. So, if I fry chicken with salt and garlic powder, then do French fries, they don't need any seasoning of their own to be really flavorful. Important not to use fresh garlic, as this will burn and leave an acrid order in the oil and the food, too.
Lauren B. December 6, 2015
We used oil for making cannoli chips and then felafel. Now we have this big bottle of it and were just discussing what to do with it. Husband suggests donating it to somebody with a diesel engine....
Sarah J. December 7, 2015
What are cannoli chips?
Tory N. December 3, 2015
how does everyone get rid of oil once they're finished? i usually let mine cool and put it back into the empty oil bottle, but i'm curious if there are better ways.
MattArmendariz December 2, 2015
I ALWAYS save a tiny bit of used oil to add to clean, fresh oil! New oil is not optimum for frying, there's a crazy science to it that I learned from Russ Parsons. It works wonders!!!!
Sarah J. December 2, 2015
That's crazy! Is there a link to Russ Parsons' article you could share?
Will B. December 3, 2015
This is also SOP in most pro kitchens, fresh oil doesnt have the same depth of flavour or browning quality
Whitney December 5, 2015
It's probably in his book, How to Read a French Fry, although I'm not positive.