The perfect french fry?
My process was derived from merely studying the patents filed by french fry producers.
While the specific industrial process is virtually impossible to duplicate, for example the dozen or so additives to blanching water alone, the basic process steps can be employed to produce an in house french fry of superb quality.
1) The first step is the most difficult -- finding a high starch, high specific gravity potato.
Personally I haven't found an 'off the shelf' Idaho Russet that met the minimum specific gravity french fry producers demand. My speculation is that the potatoes that don't make the processor's grade are shipped off for the food-service and retail markets.
Just locate the best potato you possibly can, but be aware that your final quality will be all over the place.
2) Next is "conditioning" the potato.
Potatoes coming out off cold storage have a high sugar content, it takes several
weeks at 70 degrees F to convert this sugar back into starch.
If you fries are coming out dark, the cause is too high a sugar content.
3) Blanch the potato strips in 170° F for 20 minutes.
A steam kettle with good temperature control is ideal for this step.
The addition of 2 - 3% vinegar will help the strips from becoming mushy.
4) Dry the potato strips.
The strips laid out on wire racks on sheet pans are placed in a convection oven with the "air only" or "cool down" setting with the door open for
approximately 20 minutes.
Low levels of heat could be used also, the idea is to remove excess water from the strips.
65% moisture is where processors dry their fries to.
5) Par-fry the strips.
Fry at 365° F for 50 seconds. It is imperative the oil temperature does not drop. We use a Frymaster full-vat fryer with about a six gallon capacity
set at 375° to compensate for the temperature drop. You will need to experiment with initial temperatures and batch sizes to control temperature
6) Final fry the strips at 375° for approximately 2 minutes, however, the final fry time will be determined by the quality of the fries coming out of
the fryer and your personal preference.
Once again, the final fry temperature is dependent on many variables, you must experiment with temperatures and times to determine your ideal
The Frymaster fryer we purchased was a formerly used at a McDonald's location, the electronic fry control was set to 335° for 2 minutes and 20
seconds. McDonald's uses a 9/32" sized fry strip hence the need to fry at a lower temperature.
Now the real question.
Is the above process even practical for an in house procedure?
Probably not, considering the extensive prep time involved and the problem sourcing a consistent high specific gravity potato.
The best solution:
Buy the best frozen french fries you can obtain.
Fry them in the best fry oil commercially available -- rice bran oil,
or if your clientele permits, fry with the same oil Popeye's uses -- Miniat All-Fry, incidentally a similar beef tallow formulation to that which McDonald's used before being forced to switch to vegetable oil. Miniat, a Chicago based edible oil producer, also once supplied McDonald's fry oils.
Fries fried in beef fat are superior in taste to all other fry oils.