16

When frying food, what's a good alternative to paper towels for soaking up/draining excess oil?

1
  • We prefer to use lightly woven undyed cloth.
    – laura
    Jan 21 '14 at 0:46
20

Personally I use a wire rack over a cookie sheet to drain fried or greasy foods. The oil drips to the pan below and I can pour the oil into a container or dispose of it however I need to.

6

I like to use wire cooling racks, brown paper bags, and cloth dishtowels dedicated to this endeavor would work for draining. Paper towels you do use might be compostable.

2
  • Composting the oil-soaked paper towels will be more complicated, yes?
    – LShaver
    Dec 19 '17 at 16:13
  • @LShaver small amounts of oil compost without problems, so it's fine for occasional use, but rather less so if this is a daily habit. Even then, dripping off as much as possible for reuse, before using paper to soak up the last bits will help
    – Chris H
    Sep 6 at 9:47
5

I have not found much of an alternative to paper towels, but you could at least try the following:

  1. Drain food that has been deep fried on a wire rack. Only after this use paper towel to soak up excess oil.
  2. I keep paper towel that is soaked in cooking oil and use it as a fire-lighter later on. Of course, that only works if you have a wood-fired stored.
  3. To minimise the use of paper towels in cleaning, I make use of our local food waste scheme, which accepts cooked food. For greasy pans: used teabags, or vegetable peelings that seem to be sufficiently absorbent, are used to wipe the pans before washing them. I then compost the oily teabags This saves a large amount of detergent and water.
2
  • Storing the paper towels also requires a fireproof storage container: oily rags are notorious for spontaneously combusting.
    – Mark
    Aug 6 at 19:55
  • @Mark that depends on the oil. The spontaneously combusting oily rags are those soaked in linseed oil, which oxidises and polymerises rather quickly (that's what makes it a good wood treatment), releasing heat. Common cooking oils don't behave like this, though I'd still use a glass or metal container with a closed lid, on a surface that's not easily damaged by spilt oil or heat. Incidentally I've tried to get linseed oil soaked cotton rags to spontaneously ignite (well contained with concrete bricks or a metal bucket), and haven't succeeded
    – Chris H
    Sep 6 at 9:51
3

Not a 100% alternative, but a reduction:
Use only one layer of paper towel and used newspapers under it.

2
  • @ Jan Doggen, newspapers contain carbon and chemicals that trigger cancer. Even if underneath, it may be risky.
    – J. Chomel
    May 10 '16 at 7:12
  • That is the way we do it at home. But think I will check out J. Chomels answer
    – J Bergen
    Dec 21 '17 at 22:26
2

Slices of stale bread are a good alternative. I keep crusts / the ends of loaves in the freezer and place 4 to 6 on a tray to cover the tray. You then just place your fried food on top to drain. The bread is fine to go in the compost afterwards.

1
  • If there's too much oil in the bread, won't this make composting more complicated?
    – LShaver
    Dec 19 '17 at 16:13
1

Use woven/organic undyed cloth piece, and then wash it along with other clothes. Keep this piece only for draining food.

Example: https://www.amazon.com/Reusable-Organic-Cheesecloth-ColorGrown-Ubleached/dp/B07622VQVM/

1
  • This sounds like a good idea, but it would seem hand washing might be better -- depending on how oily the cloth is, it could take a lot more soap or stain the other clothing you're washing.
    – LShaver
    Dec 19 '17 at 16:14
1

Actually the salad spinner is not a bad idea at all. It will require washing up after - detergent/water/time costs. Whereas the cloth /tea towel is pretty simple.

On the rare occasion I fry anything that needs draining I just let it drain on a warm or even hot plate. The heat will keep the oil flowing and the food warm, cold will congeal oil and cool the food.

I degrease pans etc. with old teabags or newspaper before washing. It really helps cut down detergent and washing time. We Brits always have teabags about.

1

My company Green City Living addressed this in 2014 when I invented the Bacon Sponge. It’s an absorbent towel that releases the grease when soaked in hot water and a degreaser soap like Mrs Meyer or Dawn for 15 minutes. Then it can be washed in the laundry with towels. It’s 100% cotton and biodegradable. https://greencityliving.earth/products/bacon-sponge-unpaper-towel-for-grease

1
  • Hi Kathy, thanks for sharing and welcome to the site! This answer is a reasonable use of self-promotion because it's directly relevant to the question and you disclosed your affiliation up-front. I look forward to seeing more questions and answers from you here. :-)
    – Nic
    Aug 6 at 15:10
-2

I have no clue at all if this would work or if it would damage the plastic possibly yes but if you could ever find a metal one of these a Salad spinner may do the trick. enter image description here

1
  • 4
    This is not an answer, this is rather a strange idea that you did not even try.
    – J. Chomel
    May 10 '16 at 7:15

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