Home cooks and restaurateurs often save the grease that comes from vegetable oils and meats used in frying. Cooks refer to used vegetable oils as "seasoned cooking grease." Meat grease used in frying works well as seasoning for future dishes, as well as in meat-based flour gravies and sauces. The practice is frugal and often yields great flavor. When saved and used before it turns rancid, previously-used grease is perfectly safe.
After you finish using the grease, allow it to cool fully to room temperature. If any liquid remains, pour it off into the trash. Transfer the congealed grease into an airtight container, avoiding iron, aluminum and other metallic containers that quickly cause rancidity. Leave the container out on your counter top if you plan to reuse the oil within a few days, but transfer it to the refrigerator for longer storage.
Prolonging the Shelf Life
One way of prolonging the life of your used oil is to strain it carefully before transferring to storage. Use a fine sieve; place a cheese cloth or coffee filter in it, and strain solid particles for disposal. Though you may prefer to retain bits of breading and food in the oil for seasoning, you should always strain oil reserved for use after longer than a couple of days. When cooking, slow heating for 10 to 15 minutes until the oil gets hot prolongs life.
When to Dispose of Grease
Reuse your grease for as long as you like until it becomes rancid. Smell the grease before each use. When the odor becomes acrid and pungent, you should dispose of the grease. A good rule of thumb is that grease usually stays safe for about five or six uses, or up to six months in the refrigerator. Remain cautious, as rancid grease ruins your food's flavor and can cause stomach upset.
Transfer grease that you need to dispose of into a small plastic container or grocery bag that you do not need. Empty butter and sour cream containers work well. Close the container, and transfer to waste. You may also wipe solidified grease out of a container with paper towels, and dispose that way. Grease cannot be poured into the sink, as this causes backed up sewage problems.
- Go Ask Alice; Is Reusing Cooking Oil Safe?; Nov. 8, 2002
- Grand Strand Water and Sewer Authority: Fats, Oils and Grease (FOG) Program
- Salon.com; How to Reuse Cooking Oil for Fun and Profit; Francis Lam; Dec. 9, 2010
- Bon Apetit; Reusing Frying Oil; Chris Hall; Aug. 4, 2008.
- Ochef.com: Reusing Frying Oil
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
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