Deep Fryer Dilemma

My deep fryer has bugged me for years.  After use, I empty it of the used oil and hand wash the removable basin, wipe down the exterior shell and the heating element.  The baskets and handles I either toss in the dishwasher or hand wash in a sink of dishwater, depending on the room available in the dishwasher (and what might be stuck to the basket wires that may require a soak).  But try as I might, there was always a slightly tacky, rough area along the oil line.

The basin is big, and black, so it’s really hard to tell if this was substance stuck (fried?) on or if the finish had been damaged by use. I’m not one to really care that my pots and pans look seasoned.  But the possibility that this was an old oil deposit–or a break-down of the finish (both serious sources of carcinogens)–very much disturbed me.
imageI confess, in early years of its use, I was not aware of the shelf-life of oil (it goes rancid faster than I’d have thought) nor the dangers of reusing oil.  Peanut oil, though cheaper than olive oil, is still pretty expensive in the quantity needed to fill this large of a fryer.  [Note:  don’t by a deep fryer larger than your usual use would require.]  I’d bought the largest one to accommodate the possible occasions for use when I host my whole huge extended family.  The thought of tossing an industrial-sized vat of oil after a single use was enough to make my frugal soul consider giving up Christmas Zeppole–for a couple of seconds.  Plus, I was taught at my mother’s elbow that frying potatoes cleaned up used oil.  So… a batch of french fries, and voila, your oil is good to fry your next batch of chicken or calamari.  But I know better now.  So I’ll store the strained used oil in the refrigerator and re-use once if I have need to within a short period of time. For more about reusing oil, check out:

http://www.livestrong.com/article/532582-the-hazards-of-reusing-cooking-oil/

Because I’ve never been able to get the basin completely free of whatever is on the surface, I dread cleaning it.  Yesterday, I determined I would figure out how to get it off.  I started using dish soap on a Spirisponge – which is safe for almost all surfaces.  When that didn’t work, I pulled out the Cleaning Paste and coated my Spirisponge.  This combination works fabulous for getting off the cooked on food on my ceramic gas stove-top, so I had high hopes.  Alas, oil line – 1, Spirisponge/Cleaning Paste combo – 0.

As best I could tell, this basin was not non-stick (why would it be? — the stuff floats in baskets), so I pulled out my Mighty Mesh Pot Scrubber — which is NOT recommended for non-stick surfaces — and thru it into the mix of dish soap and Cleaning Paste.  As I scrubbed and scrubbed, I considered my next option.  I was considering trying my luck at putting in my oven, heating it up, and using the Oven & Grill Cleaner to let the enzymes safely dissolve the … gunk.  That had worked well on the tougher spots of my stove top and on my toaster oven.

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Then I noticed the bottle of Lemon essential oil on my counter from having added to my batch of blackberry Preserves.  I’d recently read 101 uses for this oil and recalled it is a degreaser and removes sticky stuff.  So I sprinkled a 1-2 drops onto the Pot Scrubber. I gave one side a good scrub and checked.  It DID seem to be smoother!  Eagerly I continued scrubbing the rest of the oil line and lip of the basin.  When I rinsed away the suds, I was thrilled to see  there were only a couple of spots of gunk remaining.  I hit those with another pass and now my basin, for the first time in years is as perfect as the day I bought it.

While I was at it, I grabbed the almond butter jar I’d removed the label from and washed in the dishwasher in order to refill with a homemade nut butter.   I hit the exterior with a few scrubs of the lemon EO infused spirisponge, and away went the remnants of the glue from the label, easy-peasy.

My heroes!
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