Deep frying takes a large amount of oil to properly submerge the food items and evenly cook them. Whether you use peanut, corn, safflower or another type of cooking oil for the task, it can be used multiple times if you follow appropriate handling and storage guidelines.
Cleaning the Oil
Cleaning and filtering deep fryer oil rids it of flavors imparted by the food that was cooked and removes residue like crumbs and food particles. Cool the oil until it is tepid and safe to handle but avoid refrigeration before filtering because the oil will thicken and the impurities will be hard to remove. Line a colander or mesh strainer with a couple of layers of cheesecloth or paper towels and place over a bowl or pan. Slowly pour the oil into the strainer. If the oil still has bits of food or crumbs in it, repeat the process until it is relatively clear. You can reuse oil three or four times if this procedure is followed after each deep frying session.
Some strongly flavored foods may infuse the oil with undesirable flavors that you don't want to pass on to the next foods you deep fry. Frying a few pieces of raw potato or citrus fruit in the oil before cooling and cleaning will eliminate the off tastes.
Proper Oil Storage
The best way to preserve used deep fryer oil is to tightly seal it and keep it in a cool, dark place. If it is stored on a cabinet or shelf, it will last about a month. Freezing or refrigerating the oil will keep it fresh and usable for several months. Don't be alarmed if the oil turns a murky color during storage because this is normal and does not affect the quality of the oil. When you reheat it, it will regain its translucency, although it may darken with each use.
Signs of Spoilage
Oil that has a rancid, stale or off odor or smells like the last food cooked in it requires discarding. If the used oil foams as it is reheating, it may be time to start with a new batch. Excessive smoking is also a sign that the oil has reached its usable limits, especially if it does so at temperatures below 375 degrees Fahrenheit. When you add food to preheated oil, the oil should bubble and effervesce. Bad oil will have no visible reaction to the food and should not be used.
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