Yes, You Can Clean The Oil You Just Used to Cook Fried Chicken And Reuse It Again
Fried chicken, fried fish fillets, homemade French fries, and extra crispy pata are all food made by deep frying in oil. To be exact, it's fried in LOTS of oil.
This is one of the biggest drawbacks of cooking fried food, the use of so much oil. You not only need to use more oil than you normally would but there is also the fear of oil splatters. While there are ways to prevent oil splatters and you can use less oil, you still need to use enough oil so you are frying the food as you should.
If you are one of those people who like deep-fried or even pan-fried food, you are going to use lots of oil that your practical, budget-friendly mind wants you to reuse. Cooking oil is not cheap, and the good news is that you can reuse oil.
How To Clean Used Cooking Oil Normally
According to Joe Gitter from America's Test Kitchen, there is a quick and easy way to clean cooking oil that you just used to fry your fried chicken. His tip however suggests that if you used the cooking oil to fry fish or heated the oil beyond its smoke point, meaning the oil smoked while you heated the oil, it's best to not reuse that oil. This is probably because fish imparts its fishy taste to the oil while smoking the oil makes it break down and turn bad or rancid faster.
To reuse the oil, you need to first remove any food particles or solids completely from the oil. To do this, you need to strain it. This is where it gets tricky: passing the oil through a regular sieve or strainer removes food pieces that can't pass through its mesh. Smaller pieces will still pass through, however.
To remove the really small pieces of food, you can line the strainer with a coffee filter or cheesecloth folded several times to catch those bits of food that otherwise would pass through the mesh. While this setup is more effective in removing the food particles, it takes time for all that oil you just used for deep frying to pass through the mesh and the filter.
How To Clean Used Cooking Oil Faster
Gitter suggests a quicker way of doing this without all that waiting. Use a cornstarch mixture to capture all the food particles. The idea behind this is that the cornstarch, when heated, will form a gel that will stick to and trap all those solid food bits you want in clean oil. Then, it's just a matter of straining it and the cornstarch gel with the trapped food bits easily removing these.
The result is cleaner oil that you can reuse again, up to three more times!
For every cup of oil that you'll clean, make a cornstarch slurry using water and cornstarch. Here's the recipe formula for the slurry:
1/4 cup water + 1 tablespoon cornstarch for every 1 cup used cooking oil
You'll pour this into cooled used cooking oil and then heat it up again over low heat to activate the gelling properties of the cornstarch. Once the cornstarch has trapped all those food bits, it's easy to remove.
Got used cooking oil that you want to reuse? Here's what you need to do:
- 1 Cool the oil completely. Prepare a large sieve with a fine mesh over a large container.
- 2 Make the cornstarch slurry using the right proportions in a separate bowl.
- 3 Pour the slurry into the cooled cooking oil and stir. Place over low heat, being careful to not let the oil simmer.
- 4 Stir gently using a heat-proof spatula or cooking utensil until the cornstarch thickens and solidifies about 10 to 15 minutes.
- 5 Once completely solidified, remove from the heat and pour the oil into the prepared sieve to separate the cornstarch gel from the oil. You can also use a slotted spoon. Cool completely.
This will remove any leftover food particles from the oil which can turn the oil rancid quicker. Discard the food particles and close the lid of your container and keep in a cool, dark place like your refrigerator until needed again.
Gitter says that if the just cleaned cooking oil looks cloudy, the oil will become clear once reheated. (Cleaned, of course, after every use!)
Here are some tips to remember when deep frying, whether it's with the just cleaned used cooking oil or with a fresh batch:
1 Blot your food dry as much as possible, particularly marinated food, before cooking in oil.
This not only prevents the danger of painful oil splatters but also ensures it's easier to clean and reuse your oil.
2 Use the double fry chicken technique.
Since you're not cooking the food at high temperatures, you're less likely to burn or smoke the oil, even when it's time to do the second fry. Plus, you'll end up with less oily food and avoid oil splatters during both frying sessions.
3 Toss out the oil.
If, after deep-frying, the oil looks cloudy, has darkened (basically, the oil has burned or been heated past its smoking point.), or smells greasy (maanta), it is time to throw out the used, degraded oil and use a fresh batch for when you next deep-fry.
Thinking about what to cook next? Join our Facebook group, Yummy Pinoy Cooking Club, to get more recipe ideas, share your own dishes, and find out what the rest of the community are making and eating!
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