But, first… is it safe to reuse cooking oil?
To be clear, we’re talking about oil used for deep frying in this post. When frying whole fish or large fish fillets, several cups are required to make sure that the fish or fillets are completely submerged in oil. And that’s a lot of oil to throw away after one use.
So, we reuse. But is it safe? Well, if you read articles sponsored by manufacturers of cooking oil, they say you should get rid of the oil. But that’s to force you to use new oil every time you deep fry something which translates to more sales for them. If you’d rather take their word for it, stop reading now because this article will be useless to you.
If you read articles that weren’t written with marketing agenda, you will realize that, with care, it is safe to reuse cooking oil up to a certain point. There is degradation after the initial use and that degradation intensifies after each subsequent use.
Tips for storing used frying oil
- First, cool the oil in the pan to allow it to reach room temperature.
- Strain the oil into a clean covered container (we use glass jars or bottles, whichever is available). Use a fine mesh or two to three layers of cheesecloth to remove all visible impurities.
- If you’re not reusing it to fry fish, you may remove the fishy odor and taste with ginger.
Use ginger to remove fishy odor and smell from used cooking oil
Ah, the many uses of ginger! Garlic might be my favorite spice but I have to admit that ginger is a more versatile spice. Use it for sautéing to flavor a dish, grind it to paste to make a marinade, simmer sliced fresh ginger with water and you have ginger brew.
But did you know that ginger is also very useful for removing the fishy taste and flavor in cooking oil? It’s a trick I learned from my husband. See, I don’t throw away cooking oil after one use. It’s just too wasteful. So, I reuse. But if I’m reusing the oil for cooking something other than fish, I try to remove as much of the fishy odor and taste first.
Take a piece of ginger (a thumb-sized piece for every cup of cooking oil works fine for me) and slice. No need to peel — just slice.
Pour the used cooking oil in a wok or pan. Heat gently, keeping the stove on the lowest setting. Drop the ginger slices in the oil and let them soak for 15 minutes. If the temperature of your oil is just right, the ginger slices will not burn but will turn golden brown very, very slowly.
After 15 minutes, scoop out the ginger. The cooking oil is now free from fishy odor and taste.
How many times can cooking oil be reused?
That depends on what you fried in it the first time. If fish or meat were fried in it, we reuse it no more than three times. When food with more neutral taste and smell are fried in the oil (think tofu or potatoes), we reuse up to six times.