You’ve gotten your oil to the perfect temperature for that memorably-crisp fried chicken. But now that the meal is done, and cleanup is imminent, it’s clear that knowing how to cook with oil is only half the skill. What do you do with all that oil afterwards?
It may be tempting to just pour what remains – be it this, fat or any other grease – straight from the pan down the drain (or toilet), but doing so is not only potentially harmful to the environment, it could also do major damage to your (and the city’s) plumbing, and even cause flooding. Bacon drippings, we’re looking at you.
This said, that waste has to go somewhere, right? Here are top ways to handle cooking oil responsibly:
Let It Cool
Depending on the type of fat you’re dealing with, and its room-temperature state (liquid or solid), you may want to let it cool, solidify, and scrape it into your bin. Do note, confirm your local waste disposal guidelines for whether to place it in your compost bin or garbage.
Soak It Up
If you only have a small amount of oil you’re working with, you can soak it up with paper towel, and put it in your compost bin, where it can be absorbed by other organic matter. Just make sure it’s sealed properly, as grease can be a tempting meal to critters and wildlife.
Collect It and Seal It
In the opposite scenario, where you have a large amount of cooking oil to dispose of (10 litres or more), collect it into a sealable container labeled “cooking oil” and either arrange for a pickup or drop it off to your local hazardous waste facility.
Related: Fantastic Fried Chicken Recipes
Invest in a Grease Trapping System
If you’re a fan of frying foods, and know you work through large amounts of it but not all at once, you’ll want to consider investing in a grease trapping system, such as this Range Kleen Fat Trapper System and Grease Storage Container (retailing for $36 on Amazon). Let the oil cool, then transfer to the container and once full, seal the bag and carefully place in the bin. Another solid option (pun intended) is to also store it in the freezer so the grease freezes to a solid state for easier handling.
Reuse It (Maybe)
While we wouldn’t recommend reusing oil on a regular basis (it deteriorates each time you heat it, affecting its smoke point), some people do turn to this as a way to minimize oil waste (and stretch their oil further). If you do opt for this path, don’t reuse your cooking oil more than once or twice before disposing of it (in one of the aforementioned safe ways before), and strain it with a multi-fold cheesecloth to filter out any residue. You may also want to add in some previously unheated oil as a way to freshen it up and extend its life before reusing it.