Apple Orchard Cider Donuts Machine Help

No idea where to stick this, so I put it into General Fruit Growing…We have a couple Belshaw DR42 donut fryers that are probably 40 years old. They work pretty good, but not perfect. I am wondering if any other orchards who serve cider donuts during the picking season have any experience operating one of these machines. Our issues are teething issues I am sure. The machines work well and we have used them many times. The issues are more subtle and would require talking to a knowledgeable person who has run many a donut. Any thoughts or ideas, send them my way!!!

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I have some experience with these machines and with cake donut production in general. What kind of issues are you having?

Two things I recall: the consistency and temperature of the donut mix has to be right and the temperature of the grease has to be right. Also the grease level has to be kept at a fairly narrow range, which means the operator should be adding small amounts of grease very often -large amounts drop the grease temperature too much, and then the donuts don’t behave right. Aim for 375 F grease temperature.

Mixing the batter can be a little fussy, too. IRRC you’re looking at about a half minute on first gear and about 2 minutes on second gear of a Hobart 20 quart mixer. The hopper should be scraped down and topped up often. If your donut size is adjustable you’ll probably have better results with the smaller size - about an ounce, I think, finish weight.

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We had a 20 quart mixer, too heavy to lift up and over the hopper when half full. Looking for a 10 quart Hobart, kinda odd size. I do know that the batter has to be the right temp and we have a feeder for the oil level so we can keep it at the ‘Oil Level’ mark.

The issues we seem to always have are as follows:

  1. Donuts are dropped and do not travel fast enough to be flipped. They arrive at the flipping mechanism and are only half on the flipping paddle. When that happens, they get folded in half and then things get really messy.

  2. Holding temperature seems to be an issue. We seem to have to wait a little while in between batches for the oil to catch up and heat up. Shortening seems to hold a better temp for longer, but we have never been on the 42 dozen an hour capacity.

  3. Any idea of the best ratios for mixing batter mix and water/cider?

  4. Any idea of the best ratios for mixing shortening and fry oil?

  5. Any idea of a what a failing element could be? Ohm readings of a new/good one?

I have never seen the problem of donuts not traveling fast enough - how annoying that must be! It sounds like a synchronization issue and I don’t know how to address it. Is your machine actually level? Or do the donuts have to flow uphill a bit? Can the speed on the chain be adjusted?

We found it useful to have some heated shortening that we could add as necessary. The operator would have to leave the machine, go the the stove where the shortening was heated, and bring back a quart or so.

We always followed the instructions on the bag of donut mix, only occasionally needing to adjust the liquid. And for cider donuts we added dry cider mix! I doubt you want to do that, but I do imagine you can use as much cider as you like up to the point that it makes the mix too slack. Of course we also added cinnamon. I don’t know the pH of your ciders, but it could be a consideration.

We never used anything except solid shortening -a fairly brittle hydrogenated soybean oil shortening. Probably not what you want to do.

No idea on the failing element but it does sound like something you’d do well to find out about.

Hobart makes a 12 quart bowl that will fit on a 20 quart mixer.

Good luck, and sorry if I haven’t been much help.

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