Although, fried food continues to be the epitome of the American food industry, millennials have issued a movement against processed food that is causing a shift in the restaurant industry. Operators are seeking different approaches to meet growing demand for fresher sustainable products.
A large faction of consumers are deviating from processed and artificial ingredients and seeking healthier alternatives. Customers want a different dining experience than what the fast food industry has provided for the past several decades.
Fried foods remain largely popular, trailing grilling as the number one favorite method for food preparation. Fried items appear on approximately 73 percent of restaurant menus.
Nevertheless, operators have been able to gain a following by marketing “fresh never frozen” products. Along with processed foods, frozen ingredients have been discouraged. Chains like In-n-Out burger and Five Guys developed reputations for fresh cut fries and vegetables.
National Restaurant News polled 1,000 professional chefs to unearth trending topics in the industry. “Natural ingredients/minimally processed food” ranked 5th on NRN’s What’s Hot 2015.
Most people believe fresh ingredients are better health-wise than frozen foods but the ultimate issue seems to be the taste.
Frozen items, such as fries and meats, arrive at restaurant locations partially cooked and frozen for operators to finish preparing there. This method of preparations helps keep consistency. Every thing your order will look, taste, feel exactly the same as the first time you had it.
Frozen items limit restaurateurs opportunity to diversify menus with signature flavors, which could also create more revenue and a strong following.
Fresh-cut fries have their pros and cons. For one the middle man is eliminated and uncooked potatoes cost a fraction of frozen. On the downside labor cost and production time rise but in most cases fresh produce continues to outweigh the price of frozen.
Stratus Foods provides restaurateurs with a few techniques for preparing potatoes to preserve natural tastes and textures:
-Use a firm potato that will maintain its shape during the cooking process.
– Review potatoes for dark spots or bruises during the cleaning process.
-Cut potatoes by hand or a special contraption for desired size.
-Soak cut fries in warm water (70°-80° Fahrenheit) to draw out extra sugars and starches. This will also help achieve desirable consistency.
-Work very closely with suppliers. Taste will be a result of the oil you use to fry your potatoes. Determining a specific oil will help reach your ideal final product.
-Precook fries at about 300°- 325° for five to ten minutes to create the flaking crisp texture most finished fries have.
-Lastly, finish cooking the fries at around 350°-375° Fahrenheit. After an additional 2 to 5 minutes to fry will begin to float and they are ready to be taken out. The final outcome should be golden brown with a crunchy exterior and spongy interior.
Oil is essential to the taste. Selecting the right frying base will set the stage for final additives and customization.
Up until the early 2000s the popular choice was hydrogenated soybean oil but as people started becoming health conscious operators turned to canola oil. With the switch a lot of artificial flavors and trans fats were removed.
Chefs are experimenting with many types of oils to create their own unique tastes. In-N-Out uses cottonseed oil and Five Guys prefers a peanut oil. Another popular one seems to be high oleic soybean oil, which is fairly new.
Peanut and corn oil honor the natural flavors of fresh hand battered fish or chicken. While fresh vegetables work well with lighter oils. High-oleic sunflower oil’s light tones let the fresh flavors of the veggies resonate.
Millennials decisions have led various demographics to demand taste, quality, and information. Consumers want to know where ingredients are sourced, how, and nutritional benefits. The health craze continues to pick up traction and looks to be a trend that will only continue to grow. Even though fried foods will still remain dominant, restaurateurs need to take healthier options into account.
As a point of sale provider to restaurants, from quick-serve to full-dining eateries, it is important for business owners and competitors to stay in tune with new-food news.
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