Whether you use oil in a deep-fryer, a shallow pan, a cast iron skillet, or any other cooking vessel, cooking oil can be saved and reused later if it is done properly. Oil can be expensive, so why would you throw it out after just one use? You can save money by reclaiming that oil and using it again, up to three times if done correctly.
Types of Oil that Can Be Re-Used
What we need to speak about first, before attempting to save oil that has been used for cooking, is what types of oil can be re-used and ones that you really shouldn’t try to use more than once. Vegetable oil is by far the most popular and often used oil for frying foods, and is great for saving and reusing, as it has a high smoking temperature. When properly cleaned and saved, vegetable oil can have a long lifetime, with some restaurants using it up to a dozen times. Peanut oil is also a very stable oil that is a good candidate for saving and re-use. Lard too can be returned to its semi-solid state and re-used, though the quality diminishes with every use much quicker than vegetable oils.
Types of Oil that SHOULD NOT Be Re-Used
Though most do not do any deep frying with olive oil, it is a common medium for shallow frying items such as chicken Parmesan. Olive oil should not be saved, and instead should be disposed of properly (we will show you how to properly dispose of grease and oil later on in this article).
Coconut Oil also should not be saved, as its flavor barely holds up to a single frying use. Also, coconut oil has a tendency to get gummy very quickly, so after using it for frying, it is best to transfer it to your disposal container (explained later) during the cooling process to avoid a messy cleaning process.
Sesame oil has a very low smoke point and also barely makes it through one frying use; though easier to clean that coconut oil, we do not recommend trying to salvage it.
The Correct Process for Saving Fryer Oil to Be Used Again
So you have used a gallon of vegetable oil to deep fry a bunch of goodies for game night, and you want to save what is left of that gallon for fried chicken tomorrow night… where do you start? The first step is to let the oil cool; you can simply leave the oil to cool in whatever cooking vessel you used to heat the oil, or transfer it to another.
Once cooled, the next step is to “clean” the oil. Cleaning the oil is very simple and just requires you to pour the oil through a fine-meshed strainer or sieve. This will filter out all of those burnt crumbles and pieces that were left behind when foods were removed from the hot oil.
The third and final step is to store your oil properly. Our preferred method is in empty coffee cans that have been cleaned well, though hard metal coffee cans are getting harder and harder to find each day. Glass is preferable for storing, with mason jars being the next best storage container. If you can’t find mason jars or coffee tins, use any container that can be sealed air-tight.
How to Properly Dispose of Used Fryer Oil
Don’t pour it down the drain! We have all been guilty of this a time or two before, but not only is this bad for the environment — yes anything you put down the drain goes right back into the environment — it is very bad for your plumbing. A buildup of old oil can damage pipes or cause a nasty clog.
Instead of pouring oil down the drain we need to pour it into a container just as if we were saving the oil. Again, coffee tins or mason jars are preferable but hard to find; but really any container that will seal just and doesn’t have the chance of accidentally opening will work just fine. What do you do with the oil once it is sealed in its container? The popular practice is just to throw away the sealed container into the garbage can, and while this is acceptable and legal, you have to realize that that can is still going back into a landfill and can end up still affecting the environment.
The preferable way to dispose of the oil is to take it to one of your local fryer oil drop off point, which are in towns and communities all over America. The drop off points collect used oil and refine it into various products such as biofuel, and some of the drop off points may even pay you for the oil — if you have large quantities of it.
How Do I Find Used Cooking Oil Drop Off Points in my Area?
While most of the cooking oil drop off points can be found by contacting your local city or municipality departments — or checking local government websites — we have found a handy tool that allows users to enter in their zip code and the material looking to be recycled, and it will list the addresses and contact information for those centers. Click the image below to search for oil drop off points in your area: