Edible cooking oils are fats that are extracted from certain plants or animals. The market is flooded with various brands, each of which market their cooking oil as the best. It is essential to choose a cooking oil that is healthy. The cooking oils that contain monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat are considered to be healthier, as these lower the levels of bad cholesterol in the body. On the other hand, cooking oils that contain high amounts of saturated fat and trans fat raise the level of bad cholesterol, and some of them may even lower the levels of good cholesterol. So, while buying a cooking oil for home use, one must purchase the ideal cooking oil.
While canola oil, safflower oil, flaxseed oil and olive oil are considered to be healthy cooking oils, coconut oil, palm oil, vegetable shortening and hard margarine contain high levels of trans fat, and must therefore be avoided. Excess of anything is bad, and this holds true for oily foods as well. Though doctors advise against excessive consumption of oily foods, especially deep-fried foods, it wouldn't hurt to consume them once in a while. If you have guests coming over, and you wish to amaze them with your culinary skills, you might be tempted to use large amounts of cooking oil for making the mouth-watering deep-fried foods. Throwing away all that oil after one time use, would certainly seem to be wastage of your hard-earned money, but is there any other alternative? Is it safe to reuse cooking oil? Let's find out.
Is it Safe to Reuse Cooking Oil?
Though some people simply discard cooking oil after use, there are people who reuse cooking oil after filtering out the food particles from it. However, one must understand that the properties of oils are different, and most cooking oils undergo changes at the molecular level when they are heated. Cooking oils that have a high smoke point should be used for deep-frying foods. Smoke point, as the name suggests, is the temperature beyond which smoke would start appearing from the oil. Once you heat a cooking oil beyond the smoke point, oil may start smelling odd, and various other changes may take place.
This oil is no longer pure due to presence of minute food particles and it is also exposed to heat. With each use, the smoke point would become lower. Reusing such oils not only makes them more viscous, but would also ruin the flavor of the food. There is a great likelihood of such oils turning rancid. Thus, reusing such oils is something one must avoid. In fact, a cooking oil that may have decomposed may also contain harmful free radicals. Reusing such cooking oils may pose serious health risks. Thus, before you think about reusing a cooking oil, smell it to ensure that it is not emitting a bad odor.
How to Filter Cooking Oil for Reuse
If you don't like the idea of throwing away the cooking oil, you just used for deep-frying, you can reuse it, provided you filter it and store it in the right manner. Well, you must filter the oil well to get rid of the minutest food particles. Oil that is scalding hot can cause burns which is why you must first let it cool off. So, cover the fryer and leave it until the oil has cooled off. Now place the strainer over a bowl and put a fine cheesecloth over it. Pour the used oil and discard the chunks of food or batter from the strainer. Take another bowl and pour the oil through a very fine filter. Once this oil seems to be clean, store it in a clean airtight container and make sure that it is kept covered at all times.
Since exposure to sun can also cause changes in its properties, it would be best to keep this container in a dark place. How long can you reuse cooking oil? This depends on the type of cooking oil you use. Safflower oil, sunflower oil and canola oil have high smoke point, and can therefore be reused for a couple of times. If you wish to use it in a couple of months, place it in the freezer. However, one must look out for the signs of deterioration. Discard the oil if it appears to be dark and viscous, or smells rancid. If you don't wish to discard it, you can use it for greasing metallic items. Oiling certain items can also help in preventing rust. These days, used cooking oils are being used to make biodiesel.
These were instructions on how to reuse cooking oil. If you are not interested in dumping the used cooking oil and wish to reuse it, do keep the aforementioned aspects in mind. So, buy a cooking oil that is healthy and has a high smoke point, and reuse it only if it smells or looks fine.