Energy wastage is inevitable but why do we waste purposely, we don’t get it for free?
Posted on March 24th, 2014

Dr Hector Perera      London

Most chefs and other people just fry this and that without due care to the emissions given out during the process of frying. Back home in Sri Lanka as well we fry far too many things to mention here. Usually for lunch and supper some fried fish, “papa dams” dry red chilies or at least dry sprats are fired. How do I know because I myself do those things even in England, but not on regular basis? Next time just observe the frying of chips, fish and chicken in your local takeaway shop. The chef fry these things and more things freshly so the customers cannot say they got stale old things that were sitting for a whole day. Those chefs work for hours standing there and inhaling those oily fumes for hours because they have no choice. Now who would say that kind frying is too healthy?

One of the methods of cooking is Frying. This work covers the discussion on the rheological properties and the correlation between the viscosity and the frying cycles, correlation of viscosity with different temperatures on three frying oils such as cooking oil, Sunflower and Palm Olean oil. As for the viscosity of oils and temperature, the viscosity decreases when temperature rises. In the food industry, viscosity is a simple measurement that is being applied to determine the behaviour of solutions, suspensions and mixtures, for example, in frying process, fats and oils are repeatedly used at elevated temperatures in the presence of air and moisture. This caused partial conversion of fats and oils to oxidized derivatives, dimeric, polymeric or cyclic chemical substances which will affect the viscosity of the solutions. In addition, these undesirable constituents produced may also pose health hazards such as respiratory related problems.

This is simple to understand when we think about car engine oils. Why do we change it? That is because if it is too viscous so the engine does not work properly with blackened thick oils. When food is fried repeatedly, frying foods such as chips, chicken or fish absorb these denatured oils, would you not agree it’s bad for health? At the takeaways they fry fish, chips, chicken and many more things repeatedly on the same oil. As I asked before are they healthy to eat, the best thing is you decide.

‘Cooking fumes’ or ‘cooking oil fumes’ is the term commonly used to describe the visible emissions generated during cooking by frying with oil. However, these emissions are not technically ‘fumes’. In occupational and environmental hygiene, ‘fumes’ are defined as submicron-sized solid particles (particulate matter) created by the cooling of hot vapour. During cooking, such vapour is formed when the cooking oil is heated above its boiling point. The fumes are so dangerous because it’s possible to catch fire. This is one of the reasons, I mentioned that children are not advisable to handle fire without adult supervision. In British TV some cooks purposely set fire to these fumes to excite the viewers. The children who watch these so called cooking programmes might think that is the normal type of cooking. Who would say that kind of cooking encourages the children to cook?

How many takeaway shops in America caught fire because of these dangerous volatile fumes? In addition to this ultra-fine particulate matter, cooking, especially frying and grilling, generates aerosol oil droplets, combustion products, organic gaseous pollutants and steam from the water contents of the food being cooked. Now please tell me who would argue it is healthy to breathe these kinds of fumes in a kitchen? Invariably one has to breathe these fumes if you are frying things such as fish, meat or even dry fish in the kitchen. Sure the extractor fan removes some of it but still is the air is fresh enough and safe to breathe for a long time?

In Sri Lanka this is not a problem because they always leave the kitchen windows wide open for adequate ventilation. This problem still occurs in the flats and apartments because the area is limited for a kitchen. In countryside houses in Sri Lanka, the houses are fairly large and the kitchen is not next to the sitting room or the bedrooms. One must visit the flats and apartments to see where the kitchen is located to the rest of the house. Even in England the apartments, flats or semidetached houses have the same problems due to size. Totally detached houses are luxury in England and only the rich and famous people live in that kind of houses but in Sri Lanka all the countryside houses are detached but the people who live there might not be too rich.

 If anyone is cared to fry some dry or fresh prawns? Please remember that the volatile vapour that comes out has a strong odour due to chemicals from prawns and very likely to deposit on you if you are not careful. Take my word, those frying vapour has a mixture of oily molecules that are likely to get deposited on any cold surface as soon as it touch those places. The molecules move due to gain of heat or we call it due to kinetic energy. The speed of those molecules are much faster than a jumbo jet and they come and hit your hands, fingers, face, hair and likely to get deposited on your beautiful clothes. One might say if anyone cooks this cannot be stopped, you say that is part of normal cooking? I know the ladies cover up these cooking smells by spraying with scents and colognes. These sort of things often happen when they invite some friends and families for a dinner or supper. Then they cook a variety of dishes such as chicken, beef, mutton then fried fish, make “seeni sambol”, fried aubergines and plenty of dishes. In the meantime if they fried sardines or fresh prawns then they would realise that these smells certainly deposit on them. One might have servants but when visitors are invited, usually the lady of the house takes in charge of cooking than the servants. Yes if the extractor is on, some of these vapours can be easily extracted to some extent.

I also fried dry sprats in the usual way then realised how to fry differently. When time permits, let me demonstrate how I fried those things without getting too much smell on me. There are other difficulties in frying such as boiling hot oil splashes all over the cooker then sometimes it splashes even on the floor. Would you not agree that some tiny molecules would splash on to your hands, fingers and on clothes as well? Very often dry chilies and “papa dams” as well are fried soon after frying sprats. If one didn’t experience cough, sneeze followed by tears and nose drooling, I will be surprised. May be a good method to clear the blocked nose, perhaps a natural method but to me it is a nuisance. Very likely one would cough several times to clear the throat then comes drooling from the nose and tears dribbling from eyes. There is no choice other than to wipe them on your clothes because you don’t carry tissues all the time. How about the servants, they would be the same even they are highly experienced. Now this is a problem and I think there is a partial solution as well. The best thing is to demonstrate how to control these difficulties. No wonder why the University students never try these kinds frying at the student accommodations. In England most students fry bacon, sausages and burgers and I must say again there are difficulties such as oil splashing all over, sometimes out of the cooker.

Now the special New Year celebrations are round the corner then nearly every household cooks special dishes apart from preparing special pickles. When I was at home my mum as well prepared so many varieties of dishes whenever we came home. I was in a boarding house in Colombo so I went home in certain weekends with my sister who was working. Those days we never had gas or an electric cooker, just firewood stoves. There was a time even with no electricity to our home in Gampaha, just kerosene lamps. Now every nook and corner has power, the things have changed for better. Those days I had no idea of cooking or energy saving. As I mentioned before, I just tried out simple cooking at the boarding house as I didn’t like very much eating out on regular basis.

Any parent’s wish is to give the best to their children. They try and give the best education by sending to schools, colleges then to the Universities. Most of the times, until they get into a University they travel to schools and colleges from the parent’s home so they look after their every need. Some children are send to boarding schools because some good schools are too far for daily travelling. I have experienced these boarding schools from early stages of life. When you look back, boarding life was not easy some ways. You are too far from the parents and relatives to keep in contact. Those days no mobiles and hardly used the telephone, only letters.

Once the children went to Universities, they are too far away from home for daily travelling from home. Now they have more responsibilities on higher studies in a totally strange gathering of youngsters. Let me take on just one point in their situation. How would they manage their meals? In my case I had a choice, takeaways or cook in the accommodation. The present University students usually have flats provided by the University including a kitchen with modern facilities. Those who know how to cook something, they eat that way then the others have to depend on takeaways. Even now not too late for the University students to learn the simple but quite scientific method of cooking. This method saves their time waiting in the kitchen, cuts down food smell depositing on them while cooking. Only if they are interested I will demonstrate my scientific energy saving cooking. I am surprised why these so called energy experts are silent about my energy saving cooking. I am not a cook but I apply well established scientific laws in this technique, need to find out more? One cannot learn all about swimming, driving or football just by reading, need a demonstration, similarly this method of scientific cooking. Any comments are welcomed

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