Test Strips are Immersed Directly in Oil for Immediate Information
Each kit consists of a supply
of the test strips ready to us, and a comparison chart that can be used to
evaluate the color response of the strips. Strips are dipped into
the oil to be tested, and the color response
immediately produce an easy to
read color indication. Strips are dipped into the cooking oil at
cooking temperature, and in seconds, you are able to determine the degree
of shortening breakdown.
Indication of FFA is a Measure of Quality
quality is measured by "free fatty acids" or FFA. The
higher the FFA, the older and "more used" is the cooking oil
(see note below). Every cooking oil has a life cycle:
in the cycle, the quality of fried food is not the best, as there is
conditioning of the oil to achieve the best taste and texture
result. This break-in period is brief, and soon the oil is at a
fresh to optimum cooking level. As the oil gets older, it continues
to break down, producing discoloration of the cooked food, and eventually
bad flavors and rancid aftertaste. This entire cycle can be tracked
chemically by determining the level of the FFA's using our test
White appearance of oil; no odors in
cooked food; very little oil soak up by food materials.
Slight browning at the edges of the
fry; crisping, more oil soak up by food materials.
Golden brown color; good crisping;
optimal soak up by food materials.
Darken fry with too crisp edges,
spots and hardening. Too much soak up.
Hard rock fry surfaces; bad odor and
too much oil soak up. Uneven cooking.
Clearly, any operation will
produce a better food product if oil is renewed as soon as it reaches the
end of phase "C" in this cycle. The only way to really do
this is to measure the condition of the oil by measuring FFA's, and the
only way to do this in the kitchen or commissary is using a test strip.
to Use and Interpret the Strips
normal strips correspond to the above cycle, and can be interpreted to
make good decisions about your cooking oil's condition.
bands run from good to bad, running from top to bottom. The lowest
reading (2.0% FFA) is indicated when only the lowest color band has
changed color from blue to yellow. Each successive band that
changes color from blue to yellow indicates a higher level.
The highest level is 7.0% FFA or
above. This is indicated when all four color bands are yellow.
These stages correspond to the oil
cycle above in an overall sense, but depend upon the type of oil,
temperature of cooking, and other factors. Generally however,
the guidelines to follow are as follows:
Stage 1. OK, past the break-in
period and going towards fresh oil or optimum.
Stage 2. Probably OK, but
check food quality.
Stage 3. Probably NOT OK, but
if food quality is good, keep using the oil. Use the "if
in doubt, throw it out" rule.
Stage 4. Bad oil.
level strips are used where regulatory requirements call for a lower
range, or where the importance of quality is extremely
important--generally food processing applications will require the low
range. Retail food preparation generally will do well with the
higher range--high volume food processing is better with the low range.
The scale in the critical
transition from optimum to degrading is much finer, allowing complete
control over oil quality in processing operation, and control over cooking
results with particularly sensitive or delicate food types. In these
operations, a reading of >2.5% would call for oil renewal, while the
readings at 1.0% through 2.0% FFA would indicate how close the operation
is coming to a need for renewal.
quality guidelines or mandated or recommended Federal Food Programs will
specify levels of FFA that are acceptable. In these cases, the
choice is simple: purchase the strips that will give the needed monitoring
is a practical guide to what strips are best for your operation:
breaded vegetables and breaded meats
This chart is based on
feedback from our customers, and is in keeping with generally accepted
Note: The values
produced by the strips are equivalent to official A.O.C.S. procedures Te
1a-64 and Ca 5a-40.