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Radiant fryer keeps the flavor but cuts the fat

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November 16, 2012

The radiant fryer is a prototype device that simulates the deep-frying process, but doesn'...

The radiant fryer is a prototype device that simulates the deep-frying process, but doesn't add any fat to the food

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We know how it is. You can’t help but like the taste of fried food, but ... darn it, the stuff just isn’t good for you. Well, you may soon be able to eat your fried food without quite so many worries. A food scientist at Indiana’s Purdue University has created a “radiant fryer” that results in fried food with all the flavor, but up to half the fat and fewer calories than would otherwise be present.

Developed by Prof. Kevin M. Keener, the device uses radiant energy to cook pre-formed items such as hamburger patties. Elements are located on either side of a conveyor belt, which the food travels along as it gets cooked.

The idea is that the fryer would be used primarily to finish cooking frozen food products that have already been partially cooked by the supplier – this is usually the case with things like pre-made patties. Ordinarily, however, that finishing-off process is accomplished by immersing the foods in hot oil, in a deep fryer.

Prof. Kevin M. Keener with the radiant fryer

Prof. Kevin M. Keener with the radiant fryer

Because the radiant fryer uses no oil, this means that no additional fat is added to the food. There’s also less mess to clean up, less chance of cooks getting burned, plus cooking times could be up to 30 percent faster. Additionally, Keener points out, less oil in the food means that more of its own flavors should be able to be tasted. If frozen foods were made specifically to be prepared in the radiant fryer, he added, the fat content and calories could likely be reduced even further.

Keener thinks the fryer could be particularly applicable to school cafeterias, and the university is now looking into licensing the technology.

“Kids are familiar with fast food, and they consume a lot of it each year,” he said. “The radiant fryer cooks food in a way that simulates fried fast foods, but with fewer calories and fat. Using the radiant fryer could satisfy kids who crave fast food.”

More information is available in the video below.

Philips Electronics, incidentally, has also taken a stab at no-fat frying with its hot air-based Airfryer.

Source: Purdue University

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away.   All articles by Ben Coxworth
15 Comments

My China made dollar fan-assisted broiler works the same way.

thk
16th November, 2012 @ 05:31 pm PST

Looks like a broiler with vertical heating elements, but there would be less acrylamides and toxic isomers due to overheating a vat of fat; it's also 1000 times healthier than killing your essential nutrients in a microwave oven. (Real Chefs don't use microwaves.) My only concern is the "specially prepared frozen foods" intended for this radiant fryer.

Randolph Fabian Directo
16th November, 2012 @ 08:01 pm PST

Isn't this merely a process of vertical grilling?

OK, so it enables both sides of an item to be cooked simultaneously and hence in half the time but it hardly seems worthy of professorial research.

Alien
17th November, 2012 @ 02:41 am PST

Fryer? It's a broiler. Using "fry" in the name is a sales gimmick.

piperTom
17th November, 2012 @ 05:44 am PST

I've started microwaving my burgers. Just put the patty -- frozen or unfrozen -- in a glass bowl salt and zap for a few minutes. No fat except what's in the meat. It browns and has acceptable flavor. No carcinogens from overheating the meat.

Nothing tastes as good as a flame grilled burger but microwaving works if you just want food to eat.

DemonDuck
17th November, 2012 @ 10:59 am PST

I thought the use of oil was the immersion in a great conductor of heat... the same batch of deep fried fries takes 10-15x as long to cook in a convection oven. How fast is this in comparison to deep frying? I have no speakers so I don't know if this is answered in the vid.

Tony Smale
17th November, 2012 @ 03:21 pm PST

How is this new? The Char-Broil company makes two electric and one propane oil-less turkey "fryers". Easily purchased (this time of year) at Home Depot.

SeekMocha
17th November, 2012 @ 07:55 pm PST

it is a broiler, I just watched two in action at The Gyros House Mediterranean Grille,, burp, they use http://www.webstaurantstore.com/suffixitem/604G200/NAT.html?utm_source=Shopping.com&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=Shopping.com+Campaign

Bill Bennett
18th November, 2012 @ 06:50 pm PST

@ Randolph, I understand your first statement about overheating, but most of the evidence that I have seen indicates that microwaving is superior to other cooking methods as far as preserving nutrients.

graybar11
19th November, 2012 @ 08:41 am PST

Yes radiant heat, as in infrared, just like the Charbroil products that I'll be using on Thursday. Broiling has long been the mysterious, healthier, cousin of frying or grilling. Hey, it looks like a big toaster. Works like one too. Unfortunately, no hot oil to fend of the Barbarians or Mongolians.

But at least I have speakers.

WhyEyeWine
19th November, 2012 @ 08:50 am PST

As the food cooks you can see fat, which it was partially cooked in right from the start, dripping from the product. Basically, they are finishing the frying process and draining it well.

Don't you just love prototypes? Using off the shelf stuff from the parts bin like that huge gear motor that looks like it could drive King Kong's Hoverround.

Not to worry, a few years from now, we'll see these things selling at garage sales three months after Christmas. (Remember those spinning countertop pizza ovens?)

Bruce Williams
19th November, 2012 @ 08:50 am PST

Real Chefs don't speak of real chefs. A microwave is a handy kitchen tool.

WhyEyeWine
19th November, 2012 @ 09:21 am PST

I'd rather know when the first coin-operated fully automatic McDonalds will appear, eliminating minimum wage jobs by the jillions, but less extras in the 'food' (spit, hair, etc...).

fatalflaw
19th November, 2012 @ 10:12 am PST

Basically a giant toaster.

Gadgeteer
19th November, 2012 @ 10:29 pm PST

Is this video a windup? I find it hard to believe that these people are all working on this machine. Kevin, don't give up your day job! Oh, this is your day job. Well, I wouldn't mind working there as well, actually, because you get to taste lots of lovely crunchy fried foods (sorry, not fried), radiantly reheated food.

I have a halogen, fan assisted cooker, which looks like it would do the same sort of job, but at a fraction of the cost. It is about 15 inches across, so is considerably more portable than the machine shown in the video.

windykites1
21st November, 2012 @ 10:56 am PST
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