Deep frying used to be such a pain for a number of reasons.
First, there’s health reasons; it’s not something I want to do everyday. However, there are some recipes that have no substitute–deep fried donuts, chicken wings, and french fries all come to mind. Yes, I’m health-conscious, but I deserve an occasional treat.
The biggest reason why I used to avoid deep frying was the conundrum of what to do with all the oil after deep frying. If deep frying is something I do only a few times a year, where do I keep all that excess oil? I’ve tried keeping it in the fridge, but I’m always wary about using it when it’s been months since I last used it. I’ve put it in the freezer, but it’s pain to defrost for future use, and it takes up valuable freezer space.
But deep frying is no longer the pain it used to be!
The other day, after deep frying some french fries, I came up with a solution so obvious I wondered why I hadn’t thought of it before. Instead of dedicating that old batch of oil in the fridge for deep frying use, why not use it for every day pan frying? Pan frying just requires a little bit of oil, and it’s either absorbed by the food or thrown out afterwards (not worth the hassle of saving). If you’re like me, you use a little bit in almost everything you cook. If you regularly pan-fry, it’ll only take a month use use up that quart or two of oil you last used to deep fry. Much less chance of it going rancid than saving it for 3 or months between deep frying!
I know this is simple and obvious, but if you Google search “What can I do with leftover deep fry oil?”, you’ll come up with a dozen “solutions” for storing the oil for your next deep fry. If you don’t deep fry regularly, why let that oil go rancid when it can be used for everyday applications? Just The only time I wouldn’t reach for used-batch of deep-fry oil is for applications where the oil is a starring ingredient (i.e. mayonnaise), but for normal pan-frying it’s perfect!
Of course you’ll want to filter the oil after using it. There’s tons of solutions online requiring the use of coffee filters and cheesecloth. I’ve used these solutions before; they work, but they’re a pain and a mess. I’ve started using the Matfer Bourgeat Exoglass Bouillon Strainer, which is a chinois-style fine mesh strainer. It can hold large amounts of liquids, it extra-fine mesh ensures no food particles get into your strained oil, and it’s shape allows gravity to do most of the straining work. It’s perfect for many other straining applications as well!