A great number of people keep asking this crucial question. Most times, people prefer to reuse their cooking oil to cut the expenses of getting fresh oil or better still prevent them from wasting oil. However, reusing cooking oil is not only bad for the health, but it can also cause food spoilage. But some things can still be done to enable the proper reuse of cooking oil.
There are certain risks associated with reusing cooking oil. Some of the risks are;
- Appearance of free radicals and bacteria
If cooking oil is not properly taken care of and stored after usage, bacteria will begin to feed on the food particles remaining in the oil. More so, if used oil is not refrigerated, it becomes anaerobic which eventually leads to clostridium botulinum growing in the oil. Clostridium botulinum causes botulism (a dangerous type of food poisoning). When you refrigerate oil, you limit the growth of bacteria in the oil.
Also, old and stale oil contains free radicals. Free radicals are molecules that can cause damage to the cells of your body. It can also lead to a high risk of cancer. Free radicals also cause inflammation in the body which may lead to reduced immunity making you susceptible to diseases.
- Increases LDL cholesterol in the body
The constant reuse of oil can cause a rise in the level of LDL cholesterol in the human body. An increased level of LDL cholesterol is synonymous with the risk of heart disease, chest pain, and stroke.
- Increases acidity
Reused oil can cause a rise in the acidic level of your food. If you notice a burning sensation In your body after each meal, check whether an old oil is reused in the meal. Do your best to inspect the food you eat.
What to do with leftover frying oil
To avoid oil from getting stale or infested by bacteria, some things can be done to the oil.
- Cool the oil – After making use of oil, make sure to cool it off to normal room temperature before anything.
- Strain the oil – Using a fine-meshed sieve lined with few layers of cheese clothes, sieve the oil full of food particles. Make sure you get rid of every last bit of particle to prevent them from spoiling the oil.
- Store the oil – Pour the strained oil into a clean jar or bottle. Use a funnel for the process in other to make the process swift. Then store the oil in a cool dry place.
If you plan to use the oil again, take note of the following things:
- Remember that your oil assumes the flavor of whatever was fried in it previously. So, you must ensure that whatever you want to fry in the oil has almost the same taste as whatever was fried in it earlier on.
- Once your oil is spoilt, make sure not to pour it down your drainage pipes. Pour it back into the container it was stored in previously and throw it away.
How to keep oil clean from the first use
1. Use oil with a high smoke point
The smoke point of oil refers to the temperature at which the oil begins to break down or burn when heated. Using oil with a fairly high or high smoke point means the oil will not burn easily while using it to cook.
Examples of oil with a high or fairly high smoke point
- Avocado oil is suitable for frying because they have high smoke points.
- Canola oil, grape seed oil, and peanut oil all have fairly high smoke points. Therefore, they can also be used for frying.
- Refined oil such as olive oil is a wonderful option over raw oil because they have very good smoke points.
2. Control the kind of food you fry with the oil
One of the ways to prevent cloudiness in oil is to fry food that won’t leave as many food particles in the oil after usage. Food particles left behind in the oil will only make the oil cloudy and reduce its usability.
For instance, it is advisable to use battered food than to use breaded food they leave more food particles behind. Also, food freshly mixed in flour would leave more food particles behind.
3. Use an electric fryer
Oil tends to break down slowly in restaurants because of the type of fryer they use. At the bottom of the fryer, there is a cool area where food would not burn when they fall into it. The only way to reciprocate this mode of operation in your home is to use an electric fryer. An electric fryer would also help you control your oil temperature and enable better reuse of oil.
4. Do not overheat the oil
Oil will burn easily if you overheat the oil. All you have to do is to make sure you fry below the smoke point of your oil. We will discuss more about smoke points in the next section.
How to monitor the temperature of your oil
- To monitor the heat from your fryer, use a frying thermometer. This would enable you to cook at an appropriate temperature.
- Turn off the heat when you are done cooking to prevent a further breakdown in the oil.
- Most oil with fairly high smoke points can withstand a temperature of 400° Fahrenheit. While some can withstand a higher temperature.
What is the smoke point of oil
The smoke point of an oil is the temperature at which the oil stops frying and starts emanating smoke. It can also be referred to as “the burning point”. The smoke point of most oil ranges from 325 degrees Fahrenheit to very high 520 degrees Fahrenheit.
Why is the smoke point of oil important
Knowing the smoke point of your oil is very important as this would go a long way in getting your desired result after frying. Most times, burning oil is inevitable especially when you are stir-frying over high heat. However, smoking indicates that your oil is breaking down. When oil breaks down, they release chemicals that could give your food a burnt flavor. These chemicals can also release free radicals which are harmful to the health. Therefore, make sure you note the smoke point of the oil whether it can handle the cooking process you want to use it for.
Types of cooking oil and their uses
- Light olive oil
This particular oil is lighter than extra virgin olive oil. It has a smoke point of about 465-475 degrees Fahrenheit, which makes it ideal for high heat cooking. It is best used for roasting and sautéing.
- Avocado oil
This type of oil is gotten from fresh avocado pulp, which contains up to 25% fat. It has the highest smoke point (510-520 degrees Fahrenheit) compared to all plant-based cooking oils. Avocado oil is less prone to oxidation compared to polyunsaturated oils because it contains over 50% mono-saturated fat. Avocado oil is liquid at room temperature, unlike saturated fats. It is best used for salad dressings, sauces frying, and sautéing.
- Extra virgin olive oil
This is the most common cooking oil in most households. It has a low smoke point of about (325-375°farheneit). Extra virgin olive oil should be used when frying at fairly high or low temperatures. It is best used for salad dressing, sauces, and sautéing.
- Grapeseed oil
Grapeseed oil is a byproduct of the winemaking process. It has a smoke point of about 390° Fahrenheit. It is best used for frying, dressings, and sautéing.
- Flaxseed oil
This oil is also known as linseed or flax oil. Made from flaxseeds. The flaxseed oil should not be used for cooking because it doesn’t have a high smoke point (225 degrees Fahrenheit). It is best used as a supplement. It can be used for dressing smoothies and finishing oil for dips.
- Peanut oil
Peanut oil is made from steam-cooked peanuts. It has a simple nutty flavor to its name. Peanut oil also has a smoke point of about 448-475 degrees Fahrenheit. This property makes it the best for deep frying. It is mostly used in Asian cuisines. It is best used for frying, roasting, and grilling.
This oil originates from India. More so, It is made by melting butter thereby placing it in a class of clarified butter. Compared to butter, ghee has less lactose content present in it. Ghee has been used traditionally in the Ayurveda cuisine as a cooking oil. It is best used for baking, sautéing, and roasting.
- Safflower oil
The safflower oil is very suitable for high heat. It has a very high smoke point of about 440-520 degrees Fahrenheit. Safflower oil also has a very high polyunsaturated content of fat which implies that safflower oil will remain liquid even when placed in the refrigerator. It is best used for dressing, baking, and frying.
- Hemp seed oil
It is a rich flavored oil that is dark green. It cannot be heated because it is quite sensitive. Instead, it is used for salads and soups as a finishing oil. If you want to use it with a vinaigrette, combine it with a neutral oil. It is best used for marinades, finishings, and dressings.
Some of the healthy oils for your food
1. Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
It is made from Olive. Extra virgin olive oil contains a large amount of polyunsaturated fatty acids which is good for a better heart condition. EVOO contains vitamins A, E, K, and D.
2. Avocado oil
The avocado oil is high in oleic acid which is also ideal for a healthy heart. It is a good source of vitamin E, lutein, and Omega-9 fatty acids.
3. Grapeseed oil
Grapeseed contains vitamin E and antioxidants. These nutrients are found in the grapeseed oil as well. It is healthy cooking oil.
How to mitigate the reuse of cooking oil
1. Eat home-cooked meals most of the times
Eating at home will help you monitor the ingredients used to cook your food. It will also enable you to properly cook and eat fresh and healthy food.
2. Try to cook food in small quantities
Cooking food in small quantities will help you prevent the occurrence of having excess food on the ground.
3. When traveling or when you are going out, carry homemade food along with you
Many a time when you need to eat while embarking on a journey or going out, the next thing that pops up in your mind is to stop by a restaurant or a fast-food joint to get something to eat. However, these little decisions we make daily may have a long-term impact on our health.