The question of how to dispose of a pan’s worth of used cooking oil is a deterrent for would-be fryers. Pouring it down the drain is a no-no, so the typical approach is to cool the oil and then transfer it to a sealable container and stick it in the trash, a process that requires both patience and a perfectly sized vessel that you’re willing to part with.
In search of a simpler solution to dispose of used cooking oil, we took to the internet—and came across a Japanese product on Amazon called “Waste Cooking Oil Powder.” It works like a magic trick: When you stir a sachet of these small white flakes into a pot of warm frying oil, the contents transform as they cool into a solid disk that is easy to remove from the pan and dispose of directly in the trash, no container needed.
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We tested two products, portioned into 18-gram (about ⅔-ounce) sachets, that both claimed to solidify 2½ cups of oil. Both products worked identically to solidify separate batches of corn, canola, and peanut oil (each heated to about 175 degrees Fahrenheit to thoroughly melt the waxy product) into firm, gelled pucks.
But of course, magic isn’t actually behind this transformation—oleogelation is. According to our science research editor, the product interacts with the liquid oil, much like gelatin in water, to create an oleogel. A fairly recent development in food science, oleogelation immobilizes liquid oil in a matrix of crystalline fat, so it behaves like a solid.
One of the products we tested includes 10 sachets, enough to harden more than 25 cups of oil, and costs $17.00 (or $1.70 per use) on Amazon (sold as “Waste Cooking Oil Powder”). Frequent fryers, take note.
Watch Cook's Illustrated's editor in chief Dan Souza try this very technique below.
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