From the ubiquitous french fry to indulgent deep-fried desserts, diners can rely on fried foods to deliver sure-fire good taste. But the hot, crispy qualities that make these dishes so delectable also make them challenging to prepare for the growing off-premise consumption market in commercial foodservice and noncommercial alike.
Thirty-two percent of consumers say they are ordering carryout more often compared with two years ago, and 21% say they are ordering delivery more often, according to Technomic’s 2018 Takeout & Off-Premise Consumer Trend Report. Operations such as Oregon State University are catching on to this trend by venturing adding on-campus delivery for some of its foodservice locations. George Mason University’s Fairfax, Va., campus even boasts a robot delivery program, offered for a small, $1.99 fee.
What’s more, consumers want their off-site dining experiences to match on-site food quality levels, with 33% saying that a deterrent to ordering food for delivery is that the food is fresher when dining in.
Fortunately, keeping french fries hot and crispy as they travel to a customer is more science than art these days. Thanks to innovations in both products and packaging, foodservice operators have more ways than ever to get fries out the door quickly without sacrificing quality.
Choose the right fry
All takeout fries are not created equal in their ability to maintain temperature and texture between the operator’s kitchen and the consumer’s table. With preparation of carryout and delivery fries, operations need to take into account how long the product will be in transit.
Because 49% of consumers wait until they reach their destination to consume carryout orders, and the average time spent to reach the destination is 15 minutes, according to Technomic’s Takeout & Off-Premise report, operators should use a superior product as a first level of defense. Beyond that, they should also plan for the least amount of time possible between the end of cooking and pickup by the consumer or delivery person, to ensure that the food’s quality doesn’t start to decline before ever starting its journey.
To help fries retain heat longer, choose a product that is coated or battered rather than a traditional uncoated fry. Clear-coated fries, such as Simplot Infinity fries, maintain their crispness longer than a traditional fry and can be refrigerated saving valuable freezer space! Thick-battered fries provide top heat retention and crispy crunch in different flavors that can offer added customer appeal.
Thicker-cut fries with more solids and a lower moisture content also allow for fast turnaround and hold onto their heat longer during travel time.
Pick paper packaging
Moisture and heat loss are the enemies of crispy french fries. Styrofoam and plastic takeout packaging have a long history of success for many foods, but these totally enclosed containers will encourage steaming and condensation, which leads to wilted fries.
Instead, use paper or cardboard packaging with ventilation, so the container can breathe, and steam can get out. Make sure that vent holes in the container are large enough to allow adequate airflow but are not so large that the fries get cold.
When wrapping fries before placing them in the container, keep it loose so moisture doesn’t build up. Count on the container to insulate the fries, rather than smothering the food with a too-tight wrap.
The right fry product and packaging can give foodservice operators the speed and flexibility they need to turn around off-premise orders that hold onto their heat and crispness. In the growing market for carryout and delivery, that’s a great takeaway for building repeat business.
This post is sponsored by Simplot