Pros and Cons of Using a lid while Deep Frying
Deep frying with or without a lid is truly a toss up. Some people swear that using a lid is safer, while others claim their food tastes better by not using a lid. Overall, no matter method you choose, we’re here to break down the pros and cons of using a lid while deep frying, and vise versa.
Pros and Cons Overview
Before we get into the nitty gritty of this or that, lets take a look at a quick overview of the different viewpoints of using a lid versus not using a lid while deep frying.
Pros & Cons of using a lid while Deep Frying
As you can see, the pros and cons of using a lid while deep frying is actually quite simple. It always boils down to splashing vs taste. Truth be told, you could argue any of these points against each other, and we'll explain exactly how.
Why Splashing Oil Matters Less
The splashing of oil is often over blown when it comes to deep frying. There a few ways to help avoid oil splashing while deep frying. The first thing you should do is ensure your pot or deep fryer is filled past the half way point. Usually, if your fryer has enough height beyond the max oil point, the oil isn't going to spill outside of your pot.
Secondly, it's important to understand what causes the oil to splash. Yes, there's the bubbling heat of the oil, but more than that there's often water involved. We've shown how water reacts to oil. To sum it up, water causes oil to go chaotic and splash everywhere. That's why you never try and throw water on a grease fire. It'll cause the fire to spread.
That being said, when you do have a lid on your fryer, all the condensation from the heat causes water. The water actually falls right back into the fryer with a lid present. In the end, your fryer should actually splash more with the lid on than off (the lid of course prevents any outside splashing).
That's not all though. You have to keep in mind the kind of food you're putting into your fryer. A lot of deep fried food contains a good amount of water before the actual frying. Vegetables often naturally carry water, while frozen foods may pick up water/ice from sitting in the freezer over time. That's why it's important to try and pat down your food as much as you can and try not to dump your frozen foods directly into the basket.
Overall, if you have enough height on your deep fryer or pan, you should be okay without a lid.
Does using a lid prevent deep frying odors?
The second pro of using a lid according to some may be the fact that the lid helps prevent odors. While I suppose this can be true, there are plenty of ways around this. The first way would be to deep fry outside or in your garage, so you don't have to worry about deep frying odors filling up your kitchen.
A better option however is to watch which deep fryer you purchase. Some deep fryers actually have vented lids with a odor filter. Basically, this filter catches the smoke as it comes up, and helps contain the odors while also letting the smoke release into the air. It helps reduce condensation, odors, yet because the lid is present, splashing is non-existent.
How Condensation affects Deep Frying with a Lid
The biggest reason to not use a lid is because of how condensation affects deep frying when a lid is present. As the food cooks and the oil remains heated, the heat has to travel somewhere. That's when smoke tries to release into the air. However, when the smoke is trapped by a lid, condensation happens and water appears. The problem with this is that the water actually falls right back into the fryer into an endless cycle.
There are a few problems with this scenario. The first issue is taste. The perfect deep fried food must maintain the perfect temperature for that specific food. That's because when you're deep frying, only the exterior is actually being exposed to the oil. If the temperature is hot enough, the oil should never seep into the food. Instead, it's steam that cooks the food's inside.
You may be wondering how that has anything to do with the condensation. It's simple. by putting the water back into the fryer, you could actually be lowering the oil's temperature. By the time the water falls back into the fryer, it's usually not as hot. Admittedly, this whole process seems a bit silly. A little condensation can't truly drop the temperature of oil at 375°F oil that much, can it? I don't believe it makes much of a difference, but others abide by their ideals regardless.
When all is said and done, you should truly be fine whether your deep fry with a lid or without one. Each of the pros and cons of each method can be avoided or lessened in some way or another. The ultimate solution may be to use a deep fryer with a vented lid that also has a little odor filter. However, if you're simply deep frying in a pot instead, you should be fine with or without a lid. It's ultimately your choice because drawback may hold a different weight to you.