Purdue technology can 'fry' food with minimal oil

November 15, 2012  

Kevin M. Keener

Kevin M. Keener, a Purdue professor of food science, has developed radiant frying technology that cooks food with 30 percent to 50 percent less oil and calories than traditional oil immersion fryers. The technology is available for licensing through the Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization. (Purdue Research Foundation photo)
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Technology developed by a food scientist at Purdue University could cook food that retains its "fried" flavor and consistency and has up to 50 percent less fat and fewer calories than food cooked using conventional methods.

The radiant fryer was developed by Kevin M. Keener, professor of food science in the College of Agriculture. It uses energy similar to sunlight to cook pre-formed food items like chicken patties, hamburgers and hash browns. Food is placed in wire trays that travel down a conveyor belt with radiant energy elements on either side.

Keener said many foods sold at fast-food restaurants are partially cooked at a factory and quickly frozen. Restaurant workers typically use an oil immersion fryer to finish the process.

"The radiant fryer does not require additional oil to finish the process, which means the food that it cooks could have 30 to 50 percent less oil than food cooked with the traditional frying," he said. "The food could be more appealing because a person tastes more of the food's ingredients and less oil."

The radiant fryer improves upon oil immersion fryers in other ways, Keener said.

"Because the amount of energy used to fry foods can be adjusted, the cook time could be 30 percent faster than the cook time with an oil immersion fryer," he said. "There is little to no oil to handle, which means the radiant fryer could eliminate risks associated with oil fryers, including the thousands of injuries each year from workers being burned."

Keener said the technology could benefit officials who oversee school lunch programs.

radiant fryer oven

A radiant fryer oven developed at Purdue University uses radiant energy elements, wire cages and a conveyor belt to cook partially fried food. The technology could eliminate risks associated with immersion oil fryers including injuries from burns. (Purdue Research Foundation photo)
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"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."

Although the radiant fryer currently works best with pre-formed, partially fried foods that are consistently shaped, Keener said fat content and calories could be further reduced by developing foods specifically for radiant frying.

"Obesity in the United States is a serious health issue," he said. "Radiant frying is a technology that can achieve desirable finished food qualities while reducing calories and fat content."

The radiant fryer oven is available for licensing through Jon Gortat, project manager in the Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization, at 765-588-3485, jdgortat@prf.org

A video about the radiant fryer oven can be viewed at http://youtu.be/xrpj4IpibcM

About Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization

Purdue Office of Technology Commercialization operates one of the most comprehensive technology-transfer programs among leading research universities in the United States. Services provided by this office support the economic development initiatives of Purdue University and benefit the university's academic activities.

Purdue Research Foundation contact: Steve Martin, 765-588-3342, sgmartin@prf.org

Sources: Kevin M. Keener, 765-494-6648, kkeener@purdue.edu

Jon Gortat, 765-588-3485, jdgortat@prf.org

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