As summer approaches, so does the season for carnivals and festivals, which continue to prove that anything can be thrown into a deep-fryer. Ever wonder what kind of oil the "fry guys" use? More often than not it's peanut oil.
That's no surprise considering that a number of restaurant chains including Chick-fil-A and Five Guys swear by peanut oil, prominently advertising that they use it exclusively for all of their deep-frying needs. Peanut oil has a high smoke point and neutral taste which makes it perfect for frying foods. It's also low in saturated fat and high in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, making it healthier than frying with shortening or lard.
Cooking with peanut oil isn't an exclusively American thing. Peanut oil has been used throughout Asia for years. In fact, most Chinese restaurants in the U.S. use peanut oil exclusively in the kitchen.
One interesting thing about refined peanut oil, the kind used for most cooking and frying, is that it is made from raw (not roasted) peanuts and is processed under high heat, which eliminates all of the protein. This makes refined peanut oil safe for people with peanut allergies. (Note: cold pressed, or roasted aromatic peanut oil does contain peanut proteins and is not suitable for people with peanut allergies. These products will always be labeled as such.)
And while it's a little early to start thinking about Thanksgiving, peanut oil is every turkey fryer's best friend!
Do you use peanut oil to deep fry at home, or prefer another oil variety?
About the author: Lee Zalben was a PB&J-loving kid that grew up to be the founder and president of Peanut Butter & Co., which began as a Greenwich Village sandwich shop serving nothing but peanut butter sandwiches and expanded to include the now-famous line of all natural flavored peanut butter. Lee is a graduate of Vassar College and enjoys traveling the world in search of interesting foods made with peanuts, tree nuts, and seeds. When he's not working, eating, flying or writing, he enjoys scuba diving and training elephants.