Fats are considered a desirable medium for cooking some foods because they can be heated to so high a temperature and cook the food very quickly. When cooked in fats some foods develop special flavors and a peculiar palatability.

Methods of cooking in fats include sauteing - cooking in a small amount of fat; and frying - cooking by means of immersion in deep fat at a temperature of 350 to 400 degrees.

Salad oil, lard, and beef drippings are excellent fats for cooking, and there are many good cooking fats on the market that are made of a combination of vegetable and animal fats. Fats are an expensive food for cooking purposes, but there is a wide range in the prices for which they can be obtained. The housekeeper should know all the cooking fats obtainable and she should keep informed as to the local prices.

Necessary Utensils for Deep Fat Frying Include:-

1 An iron frying kettle of good depth so that fat will not easily bubble over. The kettle should never be filled within more than two inches of the top. A Scotch bowl is excellent because it can be easily handled and, because of its rounding base, so large an amount of fat is not required to fill it.

2 A frying basket to hold articles when placed in kettle so that they will not be broken up.

3 A long fork with which to handle basket. Or, a flat wire egg beater can be used in place of the basket and long fork.

4 Unglazed absorbent paper for draining.

Changes in Fat When Heated

When fat is heated it bubbles because of water present, which passes off as steam when it reaches a temperature of 212 degrees. The fat grows but little hotter until the water is all evaporated, then it becomes quiescent, temperature rises rapidly, a faint blue smoke is given off of some fats, then heavy fumes arise and finally the fat boils at a temperature of about 600 degrees. The fat is hot enough for most cooking purposes when the faint blue smoke begins to rise, but for deep fat frying definite tests must be used. See "Tests for Temperature" given below.

In cooking, the boiling point of fats is never used. Most animal fats are broken up before the boiling point is reached and the substances associated with the fats, or cooked in them, would be burned at a temperature even lower than the boiling point.

Temperature for Frying

The fat must be hot enough to form a crust quickly on the articles to be fried so that the food will not absorb fat. This temperature must be varied for different substances in accordance with the length of time which it is necessarv to cook them through.

Tests for Temperature

When water has all been evaporated from fat and bubbling has entirely ceased, watch carefully for a faint blue smoke. Then test by dropping in a small cube of bread or a little of the food material that is to be fried.

If one can count 60 seconds while the bread is browning the fat is hot enough for uncooked mixtures such as potatoes, doughnuts, fritters, etc.

If one can count 40 seconds while the bread is browning the fat is hot enough for all previously cooked mixtures, such as croquettes, fish balls, etc., that will be quickly cooked.

If one can count 20 seconds while the bread is browning the fat is hot enough for oysters and other foods that are to be cooked very quickly.

During the time of counting the bread should become a golden brown.

If a black smoke comes from the fat it is too hot.

Method of Frying

The articles to be fried should be warm and dry and only a few should be put in the fat at a time.

When the fat is at the proper temperature slip a few of the articles to be fried carefully into the kettle. Stir or turn if necessary and cook until the crust is a golden brown, and the mixture has had time to cook through to the center; then remove from the fat.

When cooked, drain the articles a few minutes directly over the kettle, then lay on unglazed paper, so that fat which adheres to the article will be absorbed by the paper. Reheat fat before adding another quantity of food to be fried.

Time Table for Frying

Breaded Chops 5 to 8 min.

Croquettes 1 min.

Doughnuts 3 to 5 min.

Fish Balls 1 min.

Fritters 3 to 5 min.

Oysters 1 min.

Potatoes, raw 4 to 8 min.

Many kinds of food may be fried in the same fat. Each time after using clarify the fat, chill, and keep for future use. Use new fat for potatoes first, then flour mixtures and crumbed articles, and lastly for fish foods. When fat has grown so dark that it is no longer good for frying, it can be utilized in making soap.

Fat burns so readily that special precautions must be observed in handling it so that it does not come in contact with the flame.

If the fat bubbles over on the stove it should be quickly wiped off with newspaper.

If the fat should take fire, cover it quickly with ashes or sprinkle salt on it.