How to Solidify Cooking Oil: The Science of Fat Hardening

Pouring cooking oil on a pan

 Photo by: Max Avans

 

One of the pantry basics of a well-stocked kitchen is cooking oil. And that isn’t surprising, because frying and sautéing are two of the most common and delicious cooking methods. Even though some individuals may avoid frying for health reasons, it remains the most convenient way to prepare food. Not to mention that fried dishes have some of the best flavors, if not the most palate-pleasing tastes.

But cooking oil can be pricey, so we should think twice before tossing it out. It's so valuable that we strive to conserve or repurpose it as much as possible before throwing it away. And solidifying oil can be an effective way to get the most out of your cooking oil.

You may wonder if going through that process is worthwhile. As we go over the many ways of solidifying oil, feel free to experiment and discover what works best for you. 

 

5 Ways to Solidify Cooking Oil

Some methods for hardening oil are easy enough to carry out in your kitchen. Others are more complicated and should only be done by experts because they need specialized tools and other components.

For those who aren't chemically inclined or interested in science, please refrain from attempting these more involved procedures.

Let's dive in!

 

Cooking Oil stacked in a line

1. Freezing

Freezing is the quickest and most convenient way to harden cooking oil. It doesn't require special equipment or ingredients. All you have to do is put the liquid cooking oil in a freezer-safe container and leave it to freeze.

If you are worried about this process, don't be. Freezing cooking oil will not affect its usability or consistency. While it may look odd when frozen, it returns to its normal state and functions as usual when heated. But you must thaw it at room temperature before cooking.

 

2. Chilling

Putting oil in an ice bath is another easy way to make it solid. All you have to do is fill a big bowl halfway with ice cubes and the rest with cold water. Then, place the liquid cooking oil container over the bowl of ice water such that the bottom touches but is not submerged in the water. If this seems tiresome, an easier way is to refrigerate the cooking oil in an airtight container.

This technique can also be used to remove the fat from your soup. 

 

A word of caution on congealing

Not all cooking oils can be refrigerated or frozen. Lard, coconut, and palm oil should not be stored in the fridge due to their high saturated fat content. On the other hand, safflower, sunflower, canola, and olive oil should be kept in the refrigerator. These oils are considerably more delicate because they are rich in polyunsaturated or monounsaturated fats.

If you choose not to refrigerate your oils, keep them in a cool, dark, and dry place. While there isn't a one-size-fits-all solution for storing cooking oils, keeping them away from the stove or anywhere where they won't be constantly exposed to heat is best. 

Above all, keep track of the expiration date.

 

3. The Gelatine Method

Gelatine (or gelatin) is a transparent, colorless, and flavorless dietary ingredient derived from the collagen found in animal body parts such as cows or pigs. Aside from thickening cooking oil, gelatin removes impurities in used oil.

Gelatin oil warms and cooks in much the same way as fresh oil. There may still be a few tiny pockets of water in the oil, but the bubbles from the water should clear with a bit of shaking of the pan. You can cook everything as if it were new oil. 

However, it's not vegetarian-friendly as the gelatin powder is made of animal proteins. Those who do not follow strict kosher or halal meals during Passover or Yom Kippur may use it.

 

How to Thicken Cooking Oil with Gelatin

After dissolving the gelatin powder in hot water, mix it with the used oil. Then, transfer the mixture to a jar and refrigerate it. The leftover particles are easily removed once the gelatin solidifies. It's so simple that you'll never have to pick out the charred bits from your filter again. 

As the gelatin solidifies within the oil, it traps the gross stuff left behind in used fry oil. Simply remove the gelatin and the oil can be reused. You only need one teaspoon of powdered gelatine and half a cup of water for every quart of dirty oil you wish to clean.

 

4. Hydrogenation

Now we're getting into the more complicated process of oil solidification. Hydrogenation is the process of adding hydrogen to a substance to solidify its unsaturated lipids or fatty acids.

This procedure is used by food makers to improve the flavor, stability, and shelf life of the oil. Rancidity is a risk with non-hydrogenated oils. When exposed, its unsaturated carbon atoms form bonds with oxygen atoms. As a result, it creates peroxide, which gives it an unpleasant flavor.

Unfortunately, hydrogenation produces trans fats, which have negative health consequences such as elevating bad cholesterol and increasing the risk of coronary heart disease. On the contrary, it is an excellent method of disposing of leftover cooking oil.

 Zoomed image of a cooking oil

5. Polymerization

It's a process in which small molecules called monomers combine chemically to make a polymer. Polymer powder, however, requires multiple ingredients, including cellulose and xanthan gum. That end product absorbs hydrocarbons such as oil, gas, etc.

This oil-solidifying powder reduces oil waste by thickening it until it becomes a solid mass. Aside from that, it has no harmful effects on aquatic flora or animal life. It even produces a byproduct that is 100% recyclable in most landfills. As a result, it is frequently used to clean up oil spills.

This procedure is hard to do without prior knowledge of chemical principles. It would be best to leave it to the professionals in oil recycling.

 

Why should you solidify cooking oil?

After learning about the various methods for hardening oil, you may be wondering why you should bother. 

Well, you might want to solidify oil for two very different reasons.

 

  1. Solidified oil lasts longer. Once opened, a bottle of cooking oil will only keep for 6 to 12 months. Congealing cooking oil, on the other hand, preserves it fresher for longer, especially if purchased in bulk. It can be kept for up to two years.

 

  1. Solidified cooking oil is easy to discard. You can just scoop it out and toss it. Easy-peasy, right? Not all solidified oils are good for the environment, though. You'll learn more about that in a bit.


Scraping solidified cooking oil with spatula

A Look at Solidified Cooking Oil 

Solidifying oil for cooking has its perks. But whether you cook with hardened oil or not, there will always be leftovers that must be discarded after use. Furthermore, you can only reuse frying oil a few times. After that, you must dispose of it or risk compromising your health.

Congealed oils make it easy to properly dispose of old vegetable oil. Still, these recycled oils will return to liquid when left in warm environments, resulting in an oily mess in the garbage.

Hence, consumers are strongly advised against flushing waste oil (hardened or not) down the drain or throwing it away in the trash.

Pollution caused by discarded cooking oils is widespread. They are significant contributors to environmental damage, particularly in urban areas. [This blog might help you understand the situation better.]

With all of the natural disasters and floods occurring worldwide, we must be extra cautious in protecting our environment. 

 

An eco-friendly way of disposing of oil waste

Convenience is key. Indeed, tossing leftover oil into the trash or pouring it down the drain is the easiest option. That is, until your drains clog and create a nasty backup! Can you imagine yourself scraping that filthy filter out of the bottom of the sink?

Here is a better alternative: FryAway, a 100% plant-based oil solidifying powder that converts used cooking oil into solid organic waste. It's like a cooking oil hardener DIY but a lot less work and no chemistry degree needed!

After frying or sautéing, simply sprinkle and stir the powder into the residual hot oil until dissolved. Allow the mixture to rest until it solidifies and then you can toss it in the garbage or, even better, compost it!

Fry Away Super Fry front cover

The Magic Powder Formula

FryAway is a non-toxic, plant-based powder that solidifies leftover frying oil for environmentally friendly and efficient kitchen waste disposal.

Since it is entirely made up of plant derivatives, FryAway solidified used oil lends itself exceptionally well to being repurposed in different ways. It can be used to make candles and soaps or recycled as biofuel.

If we could only turn all our junk into usable stuff, our planet would be better for it.

FryAway has three variants: Pan Fry, Deep Fry, and Super Fry. So, whether you use a little or a lot of oil, there is one for you. Plus, our bundles bring you savings.

Fry Better.

 


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