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Cooking oil filter / strainer - cheap, easy and effective

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Picture of Cooking oil filter / strainer - cheap, easy and effective
I often use cooking oil in an ordinary pot to deep fry foods like buffalo wings.  As long as the oil is not burned it can be reused several times if the fat and food particles are removed. 

The used oil can be filtered through a paper towel or cheese cloth-lined kitchen strainer resting on a clean pot or container.  This method quickly clogs the pores of the paper towel with pieces of fried bits so that the oil strains through very slowly and it wastes time. 

Using two strainers worked better but it then became a two person job.  My wife would hold the extra strainer over the first while I poured the oil through.  It was just awkward and time-consuming.  There had to be a better way!

MY SOLUTION: Using cheap strainers and round food storage containers from the dollar store I made a 3 stage oil strainer that can be used by one person.
 
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Step 1: Materials you will need

Picture of Materials you will need
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Hand-held kitchen strainers.  I used three but two would also work.

Round food storage containers sized to fit the strainers.  These will be used as spacers between the strainers.  If you use 2 strainers you need 1 container.  3 strainers requires 2 containers.  The container tops are not used.

* The containers must fit into the strainer frame without slipping all the way through.  The frame of the strainer must hold the container, not the mesh.  The curve of the bottom part of the container makes all the difference.  Make sure to have the strainers with you when you buy the containers to properly size them.

Sharp knife to cut out the bottoms of the containers.

Cutting board as a work surface.

Step 2: Create the spacers.

Picture of Create the spacers.
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Cut the bottom out of the containers.  Plan your cut according to how the container rests inside the frame.  Cut just below where the bottom edge of the strainer frame meets the container.  To help, you can place the container in the strainer and mark the inside with a marker.

I briefly heated the tip of the knife to pierce the container and start the cut.  This kept the container from cracking.

Step 3: How to use the oil filter

*  Do not try to filter 200-300 degree oil.  Make sure it cools off.  Heated oil is thinner and passes through the filter better, but I allow mine to cool to about 100-125 degrees before filtering to avoid burns.

1)  Start with a clean catch basin (pot or container) with enough capacity to hold all the oil you have to strain.  Make sure it can withstand the temperature of the oil if it is still warm.

2)  Rest one strainer on top of the catch basin and line it with a paper towel or cheese cloth.  I prefer paper towels because I have no idea where to find cheese cloth and I figure it's trash when I'm done anyway, just like those handy paper towels.

3)  Push the paper towel down to conform to the bowl shape of the strainer and add a container spacer on top.

4)  Repeat: stack strainer, paper towel, spacer, strainer, paper towel.

The nice thing about buying the same strainers and containers is that they all nest together and don't take up too much space between uses.

Make sure to store your used oil in a cool spot away from sunlight or it will turn rancid.    Happy frying!

MMMM... now I 'm hungry - need to make some more wings...

briliant idea, thats work !
thank to share
louisw4 years ago
i also use paint filters/strainers. they are very cheap and could replace one of your stages. great instructable.
lcstanley5 years ago
Great idea I've been using a single strainer and coffee filters never thought of stacking them.
captmoose (author) 5 years ago
jdtwelve12, when you start pouring the oil you can fill it to the top edge of the strainer before it overflows.  Since there is a mesh "bowl" hanging under the frame I wanted to allow each strainer the room to collect oil without the top one hanging down into the oil pool below or the ones below could overflow.  That was my thinking behind it.

shilohjim, you are right that the top one could clog.  You could use the top strainer without a paper towel simply to catch the big pieces.  I usually let my pot cool and the big pieces settle to the bottom but there is some material floating on top but not enough to clog the filter.  I just pour slowly so the crud stays in the bottom of the pot and I can get away with it as long as the oil is heated a bit.
shilohjim5 years ago
I don't understand how this keeps the top filter from clogging up.
jdtwelve125 years ago
Inventive solution.  Could you explain the purpose of the spacers?  Does the spacer somehow help with filtration?  Why not just have the three strainers nested directly within each other, with the towels in between?  Thanks!
canida5 years ago
Simple and elegant!  Great idea.
lemonie5 years ago
I like the stacking idea in this, nice simple job.

L