We all fry food, some more than others and with the price of groceries we need to understand how to reuse cooking oil and also how to store it safely.
The results were the same for those who used olive oil for frying and those who used sunflower oil or other vegetable oils. Frying food adds extra fat and calories. But fried food tastes extra good because the fats dissolve and concentrate flavor and odor chemicals
Is Reused Cooking Oil Safe?
From the get-go the simple answer is that, for safety and quality, use fresh cooking oil each time you fry. However, if you deep-fry large amounts of food frequently, it is not always practical from an economic standpoint.
High Smoke Point of Oil
By choosing oils with a high smoke point, preparing food for minimal contamination of the oil and straining the oil to get out any food particles left over, you can reuse most oils as long as they are properly stored.
The smoke point is the temperature at which oil breaks down and begins to smoke. In general, vegetable oils have higher smoke points than animal fats, and refined oils have higher smoke points than unrefined. Each time you use oil, its smoke point drops.
Extra virgin olive oil, for example, has a low smoking point, and is not recommended to be reused as one might be exposed to harmful chemicals produced.
Avoid adding salt to food before deep-frying, because salt lowers an oil’s smoke point. Once oil smokes, it is no longer safe nor desirable to reuse it.
Best Ways of Reusing Cooking Oil
Only reuse cooking oil with other foods that have a similar (or at least compatible) flavor. For example, if you used the cooking oil to make fried chicken, you could easily reuse it to fry up some potatoes.
You don’t have to throw out used oil. Often you can reuse it many, many times!
The good news is that it is easy to tell when you’ll need to replace your oil. With a bit of effort ther are some easy steps you can take to increase the useful lifespan of your oil.
Best Oil for Frying
Generally, refined oils like most peanut, canola, vegetable, and corn can be heated to higher temperatures than raw oils like extra-virgin olive oil or most sesame oil. It’s not that you can’t fry in extra-virgin olive oil, it’s just that it will break down far faster than refined oil. That is if it can even get hot enough to fry without smoking in the first place.
Keeping your Cooking Oil Clean
Basic rule of thumb: the more particulate matter you introduce to oil and the finer those particles, the faster your oil will break down. Battered foods like onion rings or bare foods like french fries will leave behind very little detritus after they’re done frying. Breaded foods like chicken cutlets will leave crumbs that fall off when the food is added to the oil.
Oil in which you are cooking battered foods may last through a dozen or more batches, but oil used for flour-dredged foods may break down after only three to four uses.
Vegetables tend to dry the cleanest, imparting very little to the oil. On the other hand, fatty meats like chicken wings will render fat as they cook. This fat can then mix with your fryer oil, causing it to break down a little faster.
Storing Oil for Reuse
Oil can break down even without the energy of a burner underneath it. Its largest enemies? Humidity, light, and heat. (Durban climate is not good for leaving cooking oil on the shelf – keep reused oil in the fridge or freezer.)
We all have a friend who stores their oil right above the stove. Or how about sitting in a bottle against the backsplash? It is not a good idea to eat fried food at they have cooked – it may just be off.
When you have cooked with oil, strain through layers of cheesecloth, paper towels or coffee filters to remove food particles. Household Plastics stocks easy to clean oil strainers that take care of the messiness and leave you with clean used oil.
Store in an air tight container and put into the fridge. Never mix it with unused oil. Label it with the date, and refrigerate or freeze for no longer than a month. It may become cloudy in the refrigerator or freezer, but will clear at room temperature. Fatty foods freeze really well.
A cool dark cupboard is fine for the short term, since exposure to air and light hastens oil’s rate of oxidative rancidification and the creation of off-flavors and odors. But for long-term storage (beyond one month), the cooler the storage temperature the better.
There is an easy test to determine whether reused oil is good or bad – just observe the colour of the oil – discard if it turns dark or black. Oil should also be discarded if it smells rancid, or if it becomes thick and sticky.
Take a look at the range of oil strainers on our shelves – large and small. By using the strainers you can reuse oil several times as long as it isn’t burned.