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Pcos |  Debjani M Arora
Reusing Cooking Oils - Yay or Nay?
January 20, 2022

If you think reusing cooking oil is an economical decision, then you should read this article at least once to know the complete truth about reusing leftover oil. 

Should you - or shouldn't you - reuse leftover cooking oil for the second or third time? We know most of us are in a dilemma when it comes to reusing cooking oil. Given that most of us want to be economical with our resources in the kitchen, it pains to drain that oil into the sink when plenty is remaining in the pan after frying a batch of pakoras or fish fillets. But the question is should we risk our health while reusing leftover cooking oil and trying to be economical? 


Did you know reusing cooking oil can have health implications? In fact, in 2019, the Food Safety and Standard Authority of India (FSSAI) has prohibited eateries and restaurants from using the same batch of cooking oil more than three times. If that can be the rule for food joints, we need to follow some dictum while cooking and frying at home while reusing leftover oil. 


Reusing cooking oils - yay or nay?  

Most vegetable oils used in cooking, such as sunflower and corn oil will develop carcinogenic compounds after repeated use; in other words, they will turn toxic. Repeated usage of cooking oil changes the nutritional and sensory properties of the oil. Also, repeated use of oil gives rise to certain chemical compounds that are harmful for consumption. These compounds can lead to cardiovascular problems, gut infections and digestive issues. 


What you should do 


Here are few rules you should follow with your cooking oils 


  1. Choose oils with a high smoking point: Since Indian cooking mostly involves deep-frying, an oil with a higher smoking point is the best option. 

Oils with a high smoking point won't easily break down and contain their nutritional properties while you cook your food. Most vegetable oils have a high smoking point - coconut, sunflower, rice brain, corn oil, palm oil are good for deep frying and cooking. Other oils that you can choose are canola oil, peanut oil. However, please refrain from using olive oil for cooking and frying as it has a low smoke point and can quickly break down. 


  1. Maintain a good temperature for cooking and frying: The best option would be to use a thermometer to check your oil temperature, but it isn’t a feasible option. So wait for the oil to reach a temperature that will aid in your cooking/frying process. Remember, the oil shouldn’t be too cold or too hot (past its smoking point, as it breaks down). Ideally, you should start adding your ingredients when you see the smoke coming out of the pan. Don’t wait for the oil to start boiling. 


  1. Storing and reusing cooking oil the right way: Once you are done frying your first batch of food, allow the oil to cool and come down to room temperature. Then strain the oil and throw away the food particles that stayed back in the oil. Keeping these food particles in the oil will make the oil go rancid and make it unusable. Please keep it in an airtight container and don’t mix it with any other oil. If you are reusing it, pour it in a pan and wait till it reaches the desired temperature (refer to point no 2). 


According to the FSSAI these are some guidelines one must follow while using used cooking oil (UCO)


  • Oil once used for frying foods should be filtered and used for making curry preparations for economic reasons. Avoid using the same oil for frying the second time.
  • UCO should be disposed of when a blue-grey smoke appears or a foam gets formed on the oil while heating it or oil becomes dark and murky and the consistency of the oil changes. These are some of the indications that the oil is not usable any more. 
  • Used cooking oil should be consumed in a day or two. It should not be stored for a more extended period as the rate of deterioration is higher in used oil.


  1. Dispose of your used oil correctly: Don’t try to flush your used oil in your sink or in the bathroom. The right way of doing it is to pour it in a ziplock pouch and discard it with your other trash. 

Note: Try not to use your used cooking oil more than two times.

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