I”m a big lover of all foods fried. Whether we’re talking donuts, chicken, or tempura, I’m always down to partake of food that’s fresh from the frier. When it comes to leftovers, however, I’m much less interested. After even just a few minutes, fried food can lose its crunch and become a disgusting, soggy mess.
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Luckily, there are some tricks you can use to handle fried food in order to help maintain the crunchy goodness. Here are the basic things that I’ve learned over the years. Applied properly, you’ll be able to keep fried food reasonably crisp for a fairly long time.
The Steamy Truth
Most fried food is full of moisture. Hot from the frier, that moisture will evaporate into the air in the form of steam.
If your fried food isn’t well ventilated, the steam will cause the crispy coating to become soggy and gross.In other words, heat and water are the culprits here.
How can we stop that?
Cool the food down and don’t let water form on it.
Copy The Experts
Think about your favorite fried chicken outlet. How do they present their to-go orders?
Of the places I frequent, KFC uses cardboard buckets with plenty of holes in the top, Popeye’s uses cardboard boxes with big holes in them, and Wingstop uses styrofoam containers lined with paper with big gaps on the sides.
All three of these methods of packaging combine two important things:
ventilation and absorption.
Ventilation Is Key
Because hot fried food releases moisture, it’s important to give that moisture somewhere to go. The best way of doing this is to sit your fried food on a wire rack until it’s reasonably cool. If you have to transport it immediately, transport it in something with holes.
You’ll drive yourself crazy with the aroma, but it’ll totally be worth it when your food stays fresh and crispy at the end of your journey. Stay away from sealed tupperware or anything airtight, since it’ll just lock in the moisture.
Absorbing The Issue
Laying down some paper towels or even a bit of cloth in your travel container will go a long way towards keeping your food fresh. When moisture is released into the air, it’ll try to condense on the sides of your container.
If you’ve got a paper towel down, however, it’ll suck that moisture up and prevent it from going back into your food and making it wet. It’s much better to have a soggy paper towel than a soggy piece of chicken.
Keeping Things Cool
Fried food doesn’t usually get soggy when it’s cold. If you do have to transport fried food, let it cool for as long as possible before you transport it. This will prevent steam from forming. You can always reheat it at your destination.
A Toasty Container
If you want to keep fried food fresh at home, you might consider throwing it on a rack in a warm oven. You can emulate that effect in your transport container by using a pizza stone or another passive warming element.
Used in conjunction with a well-ventilated container lined with something to absorb any excess moisture, you’ll keep your fried food nice and warm for the duration of your journey. If you’re transporting food a long way, it’s much better to let your fried food cool and then reheat it, but for short trips, a pizza stone can work wonders.
The Best Way To Keep Fried Food Crispy
At the end of the day, the best way to enjoy your fried food is to eat it when it’s fresh out of the frier. If you can’t, keep it well ventilated and use absorbent materials to keep moisture levels down. If you have to transport it, be sure to use a well ventilated container that’s lined with paper towels in order to achieve these effects.
For long journeys, cool the food on a wire rack before transport and reheat it at your destination. Finally, consider using a pizza stone for short journeys to keep your food hot.