So many of our grandmother’s used to have a grease can on the stove. A container that held the grease left behind after cooking bacon. It was a steady fixture and the grease was used regularly for all sorts of recipes.
That being said, my grandmother was not one of those grandmothers. So I fired up the laptop and did a little research on this. Here’s what I found.
HOW TO GET THE FAT
When you are done cooking your bacon, either on the stove or in the oven, allow the leftover grease to cool enough so that you can touch it without burning yourself, but the grease is still in liquid state.
Keep in mind that you want to keep the heat you cook your bacon with away from high levels. In other words, don’t cook your bacon on high heat. It may take a little extra time, but it preserves the fat and it’s molecular structure better.
If you are rendering bacon lard, you’ll want to do so over the lowest heat possible for the best results.
TO STRAIN OR NOT TO STRAIN
Now some people include the little bits that are dark brown or black and are left behind in the grease. They just pour it right into a jar without straining it off. I think this is more a practice of habit then actual preference however as I haven’t found there to be much of a difference in flavor. Plus, I’ve taken so many safety and sanitation classes in my life that I worry about the bits going bad. So I always strain them off with a fine meshed strainer. That being said, I’m sure there are plenty of people who would think it’s silly to do so. So I leave that up to you.
IF YOU CHOOSE TO STRAIN
If you choose to strain your bacon grease, you can do so with a simple jar (glass is best in my opinion). But if you want to get all fancy about it, Amazon has this nifty Bacon Grease Catcher, Container, and Keeper. It’s a nice little item to have on hand and the strainer is just perfect or removing the bits. Should you choose to use a strainer you already have, you’ll want it to be a fine mesh like the one in the photo here. Cheese cloth folded over several times can work too in a pinch.
USING YOUR BACON GREASE
It’s easiest to have two jars going at all times. One you are filling and one you are using. That way you finish off the jar and the older grease at the bottom instead of constantly adding new stuff to the top and allowing the stuff on the bottom to possibly go rancid.
That being said, if you don’t use it that often, keep it in small jars for easy rotation.
HOW LONG WILL BACON GREASE LAST?
There seem to be a few different schools of thought on this. But having gone through several classes in culinary school (I will be returning soon!), I know that every oil has it’s lifespan. Even bacon grease. Those who say it never goes bad most likely use it frequently enough to never let it get to that point.
So the general consensus is this:
Store it on your stove top only if you’ll use it in a day or two.
Store it in the fridge for up to 6 months.
Store it in the freezer for up to 1 year.
WHAT IS BACON GREASE USED FOR?
That’s a long list, but I’ll try to sum it up.
- Add depth of flavor to certain recipes
- Butter your low carb bread or veggies
- Cook your morning eggs
- Basically, you can use it like butter in most dishes.
TYPES OF PORK FAT
Bacon grease isn’t the only pork fat there is. There is back fat, belly fat, and the healthiest fat is called Leaf Lard (which surrounds the kidneys). You can get it from a butcher and it has the highest amount of Omega 3’s in it. That said, you’ll want good quality in that lard. A well raised animal leaves better nutrients in it’s fat. If you purchase fat from a butcher, ask him to grind it for you so you don’t have to spend a lot of time chopping it into tiny bits.
Good quality bacon fat has more Omega 3’s in it than salmon!
If bacon grease is your fat of choice, make sure you store it properly and use your nose if you’ve had it a while. If it’s rancid, you can smell it.
Here’s an interesting article I found on the health effects of pork and bacon.