Reusing oil for frying food continue to be debated by both chefs and health experts. Add to that the idea of reusing oil used for frying fish or chicken– and you have a new fodder for debate. Keeping oil safe and healthy requires not just proper cooking but storage techniques as well. Regardless which side of the fence you’re sitting on, it is essential to learn what proper actions must be taken when reusing oil that’s been used for frying beforehand.
Truth be told, leftover oil (as well as fat) is entirely usable. Reusing them can even add more depth or flavor to certain dishes. Straining vegetable and animal fats then, storing them in an airtight container in a dark place or away from sunlight or within a stipulated temperature can be done. When sealed properly, used cooking oil can last for up to 3 months. To strain, simply use a coffee filter or a cheesecloth to remove unwanted crumbs and particles.
On the other hand, hardened saturated fat used as cooking oil can be liquified at room temperature. Have a glass covered with a cheesecloth or a paper towel to strain it. Store it inside a fridge or a dark place for use later on. Preferred storage containers are coffee can, milk jug gallon, and mason jars. Other oils like corn, peanut and vegetable have certain smoking point requirements though. These oils can taste bitter when they exceed smoking point, and may also pose serious health risks. Do take note that when an oil starts to foam, looks clouded or has foul odor, don’t use it again. Send it off to a recycling center for it to be turned into a soap or biodiesel fuel.
Technically, cooking oils and fats can be used over and over again. Reusing oil, however, must only be reused in frying the same type of food. This is even more so when fish or any seafoods are involved. Aside from odor, taste of fish and other seafoods can be carried over to an entirely new dish. You would not want to make your onion rings or French fries taste like cod or dried fish, right? Oil used in deep-frying chicken, on the other hand, may also taste or smell differently when used in say pork or lamb chops. If you may, reuse oil for chicken when frying dishes on the same category such as turkey, duck, geese, and the likes. Used oil for frying fish, on the other hand, must never be used in other dishes except for seafoods. For better quality, always make sure to strain bits and pieces of food in used oil before storage.
Used and unused cooking oils can actually be kept at room temperature. They must, however, be stored in airtight container and kept away from sunlight or any source of heat. If you’re fond of buying cooking oils in bulk, chefs suggest splitting it into smaller portions and refrigerating others for future use. Keep in mind that there are also certain rules to follow when it comes to refrigerating oils. Olive oil, fish oil, sesame oil and walnut oil must be refrigerated when not in use.
These oils contain polyunsaturated fatty acids susceptible to oxidation. When using the fridge for storage, see to it that it’s completely sealed to avoid picking icky smell from other stuffs in the refrigerator. Though this type of storage may make it look cloudy, this should disapper when placed at room temperature– and does not affect its taste thereafter. When not stored in the fridge, it can be easily susceptible to spoilage.
On the other hand, peanut oil, coconut oil and avocado oil must not be refrigerated. They contain monounsaturated fatty acids that do not easily succumbed to oxidation or spoilage. Do make sure to store them in airtight jars or containers and always, away from heat or sunlight to preserve their quality.
Whether it’s for simple frying or deep-frying, learning what to do with oil after frying is a welcome thought where health and the environment is concern. Recycling as well as upcycling used oil is not just a practical choice, but an environmental concern as well. Making use of such oil over and over again will help cut your expenses on food preparation and storing them the right way helps to protect the environment from a terrible fate.
So, learn how to use it right and most importantly, how to store your cooking oil at home with safety in mind.