Rendering Bacon Fat

A Simply Recipes reader recently asked in the comments, “Where do I get bacon fat?” Great question, especially considering that we use bacon fat (also called bacon grease) around here in many of the recipes. I remember as a kid looking into the fridge and seeing a jar of solid white stuff and wondering what it was. When my mother told me it was bacon fat, well that somewhat grossed me out for a while, for decades actually. It wasn’t until I got into cooking again in my 40s, that I gained a new appreciation for this readily available, highly flavorful cooking fat. Just last week mom used a little bacon grease to cook up some spring peas. I would have eaten every one of them if manners allowed.

To answer our reader’s question, you make bacon fat by cooking bacon.

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Rendering Bacon Fat

Method

Heat a large skillet on medium-low heat. Lay out several strips of raw bacon. Let the strips cook for 10 or 15 minutes, turning them occasionally. When they are nicely browned and crispy, use tongs or a fork to lift the bacon pieces out of the pan and place them on paper towels (to absorb the excess fat) on a plate. With the remaining fat in the pan, do not pour down the drain! Either soak it up with paper towels (after it has cooled a bit) and discard, or pour into a jar, and put the jar into your refrigerator. The bacon grease will solidify to a slightly off-color white. When you cook bacon again, pull out the jar and add more of the excess fat to it.

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When cooking with bacon fat, spoon it out from the jar. Usually half a teaspoon is all that is needed to give a flavor boost to what you are cooking.

If you make more bacon fat than you end up using, just throw out the whole jar and start a new one. Do not ever pour bacon fat down your sink drain; it will cool and then solidify, stopping up your pipes.

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70 Comments

  1. Jeff Youngstrom

    I’ve taken to cooking bacon at low heat in the oven. I learned this trick on the Cooking for Engineers blog[1]. Set the oven to 200 or 250 degrees, put the bacon on a wire rack over a shallow pan, and stick it in the oven. Then the weird part is that you let it cook for a couple hours. You end up with perfectly flat crispy bacon and a pan full of bacon fat. Since the bacon doesn’t cook in the fat you get pure white bacon fat for your jar in the fridge. It takes a long time, but with the low temperature there’s no grease spattering and it’s very forgiving.

    [1] http://www.cookingforengineers.com/article/110/Bacon-Part-II

  2. Radek

    What would be the shelf life(or freezer life) for this?

  3. Kaya

    When I was a teenager, I went to stay with my friend’s grandmother in Harlem. My friend and I decided to make brownies, and asked her grandmother for oil to grease the pan with. She pointed at a jar on the the back of the sink. Upon closer inspection, it was a jar of yellowish-white, solid fat much like the one above. “What’s this?” we asked. “Chicken grease,” she replied. We were committed to our brownie recipe by that time, so we decided to go for it. Needless to say, the brownies did have a mild undertone of “chicken” flavor, which I suspect was more like mixed fats of all meats cooked in the house.

    My mom did have a jar in the kitchen for various greases when I was growing up, which I believe is common in the South, but I never knew she used it to cook with. I thought it was just poured in there to prevent stopping up the sink. :-)

  4. Chris H

    Hey guys, first time poster, long time reader.

    I wanted to relay a tip I have about rendering bacon fat that this article doesn’t mention.

    The article says to cook strips, but as you can see from the photo, the crispy bacon strips still have fat on them, which is simply fat left unrendered when you cook it that way. If you want to eat the bacon, then it’s fine.

    But if you’re like me and don’t really eat bacon, and instead use it almost exclusively for its fat, then what you should do is first put the raw bacon in the freezer for about ten minutes. Then cut it into the smallest pieces you can without it being too much of a pain. This increased surface area allows more heat to penetrate the bacon pieces, thereby more completely rendering the fat.

    Cook it on low heat until the bacon bits are almost burned. Granted that this method involves more of a hassle when it comes to extracting the bacon bits, but the result will be a pan full of fat, and bits that are almost 100% lean.

    By the way, you can sprinkle these bits onto just about anything and it’s wonderful. I hope this tips helps anyone if they’re like me and don’t really eat bacon by itself.

  5. M. Craig Weaver

    I’ve been saving bacon grease forever. I love the flavor it imparts to various dishes. I use it to make pop-corn, home-fries, and just about any other savory dish.

  6. Mary Beth

    Mmmm bacon… For the past few years, my favorite cooking method for bacon and rendering the fat is to bake it. Place a wire rack on a sheet pan, put your strips of bacon on top and place in the oven, which you then turn on to 400. Truthfully I’m not sure how long it takes to cook – maybe 10-15 min? At our house we have different preferences for doneness in our bacon – I like mine a little rubbery and my husband likes his crispy, so I check it frequently and take everybody’s out when it’s “done.” What I really like about this method is that most of the fat easily drains away from the bacon, you are able to capture quite a bit of fat, and when your sheet pan cools enough to touch, it’s really easy to tilt the pan and use the corner as the spout to pour into the jar.

  7. Mags

    This might be a silly question: how long will it keep in the fridge?

  8. Dan

    A comment and a question:
    My local butcher sells bacon ends dirt cheap ($1 a pound or something like that). Since bacon ends tend to be mostly fat, they work great for rendering, especially if you’re like me and you rarely eat bacon. Our dog loves the crispy bits left over after rendering.

    How long is is safe to keep the rendered fat in your fridge? I’ve searched high and low on the internet, and I can’t find a definitive answer. I thought it would last for a while (I would think fat with lots of salt in it would be rather inert), but your comment about “making more than you use and throwing out the jar” makes me wonder.

  9. Deb

    This is the first time I’ve ever heard anyone talk about bacon grease. But I, too, remember my mom having a jar full of grossness! LOL! However, she always kept it out on the counter and never refrigerated it. Oh, my, and I’m still alive! I would say refrigeration is definitely necessary; good warning about not putting it down the drain, too. Thanks for the post.

  10. Derrick Schneider

    I pour the bacon fat through a fine-mesh sieve and into a jar, just to get rid of any bits of this or that that have ended up in the pan.

  11. Alanna

    My blog got a comment once, “Any recipe that starts off calling for bacon grease gets my attention.” I keep a jar going in the frig, it keeps for months. (And might I suggest that your own jar appears a tad small for a real bacon flavor lover?!) Interesting that no company has ‘commercialized’ bacon grease for production.

  12. Jerry

    I actually have what I believe is a 1 qt container that I picked up at K-Mart labeled “grease” It sit’s happily in my frige keeping my fat, and has a strainer insert to filter out the little bits that are destined to form when using a cast iron skillet. I love the thing, I do!

  13. Beth

    Growing up, my mom always kept a container of bacon grease in the fridge. Everytime she or my dad cooked bacon, the grease was added to the container. Eggs were always fried with it. Interesting….

  14. Hank Osborne

    Elise,

    Can you elaborate on the refrigeration requirement? No one in my family has ever refrigerated bacon grease, uhm fat. I grew up on a pig farm and have seen my fair share of bacon fat. Today I am a suburbanite and have a jar just like yours, only a little bigger. ;-)

  15. Yvo

    Mmm! Me too. I keep it in a tub on the stove though. Will I die if I don’t fridge it???

  16. lobstersquad

    Darn. I just threw out some. I always feel I should keep it, because I hate to throw stuff out, but I never thought anyone actually kept it. I now feel a new chapter of my life starting.

  17. Kalyn

    My mother also cooked with “bacon grease” all the time. One of my very favorite salads that she made was simply chopped cabbage, cooked bacon and green onions in a bowl, then add apple cider vinegar to the bacon grease, heat it a little, and pour it over the other ingredients. We would always beg for more!

    Interstingly we never called it “bacon fat.” I think in those days the word fat wasn’t even associated with oils like it is now, at least not in Utah. And like Deb, my mother just kept it in a jar under the sink.

  18. chefjustin

    DEB:

    The fat does not technically need to be refrigerated . . . fat is a natural preservative and has been used so for centuries (ever heard of duck confit?) as long as it is kept sealed tightly it will keep for quite a long time

  19. Sara B

    Cook bacon in the microwave and you get perfectly clear bacon fat. Put paper towels on the bottom of a 9×13 glass dish. Lay uncooked bacon strips on the paper towel (as many as you can put), single layer, touching ok. Put another paper towel on top of bacon, put more bacon on top of that , another paper towel. Keep doing until you have a pound(or as much as you need placed on the towels. Cover with one more towel. Cook on high for 8/10 minutes. When it is done (you can look at it and tell) CAREFULLY take it out of microwave, remove top towel, take the bacon off immediately and put it on a plate. Keep doing this until all bacon is out of pan. Let grease cool a bit and put it in a jar. Keeps forever because it doesn’t have “Junk in it.

  20. Brie Dodson

    Mind the kind of bacon. Once we bought some maple-flavored bacon. We didn’t like it much, and so I thought I’d at least render the fat. I should have thought a little harder. The rendered fat from maple-flavored bacon is sweetish and tastes like maple syrup. Alas, I contaminated a perfectly good jar of bacon drippings by pouring the maple-flavored stuff on top.

  21. Katerina

    When I was a kid we used to make fried bread – literally white bread fried in bacon fat. Absolutely divine, though of course my metabolism can’t handle that quite as well as I used to.

    BTW, it isn’t just bacon fat. You shouldn’t pour any fat that is solid at room temperature down the drain as it will solidify and clog up your pipes.

  22. FrankInSanJose

    Ditto! Mom kept a jar of bacon grease on hand at all times. My grandmother’s fresh garden green beans, sauted for just a few minutes in scorching hot bacon grease (sort of Tennessee stir fry), is a fond childhood memory.

    Years later when I started cooking for myself, I learned to strain the hot grease first through a paper towel into the jar. It’s the brown meaty bits that go rancid and cause that slightly funky smell and taste. If you keep the bacon grease clean, like all pure fats it will keep for a long time. Those thin layers of brown sediment are probably pretty tasty, but depending on the climate and how you store it, you may be asking for some trouble. (But then, Mom never strained it, and somehow I managed to make it to adulthood.)

  23. Karen

    I come from a home where mom would wipe the pan clean with papertowels and throw it all out.
    I’m drooling with the idea of flavour that using bacon fat would impart, but I don’t have any recipes to try, and I’m not that creative to figure something out on my own… Can people recommend some recipes to try out that use bacon fat?

  24. Kristi

    Oh, the power of suggestion: I read this post at work today, and by the time I got home I HAD to make spinach salad with hard-boiled eggs, bacon and hot rendered-bacon-fat salad dressing for dinner!! (And ok, I admit it was turkey bacon, but it was the only bacon we had in the house.)

  25. Ramona

    My mother-in law makes the best gingersnaps you will ever eat. I was surprised to find out that her secret ingredient comes from the “fat can” sitting on the sink–a mixture of bacon and pork chop drippings. She has never used shortening.

  26. PG

    Brilliant tip – I have never done this, I can’t think why as I do it with all other kinds of fat – I have a handful of bacon offcuts I was about to chuck, and now I am off to render them into something useful! It will join the other little mysterious bowls at the bottom of my fridge. (fat may not go mouldy, but it can go rancid, which is why I prefer to keep mine cool)

  27. Sandy

    Don’t forget wilted lettuce! Fresh red leaf lettuce, green onions, radishes, all right out of the garden. Bacon fat, vinegar and sugar. Oh my goodness! I would just about kill for some of my gramma’s wilted lettuce about now!

    Sandy

  28. Donna A.

    Like everyone else we always had a can of bacon drippings setting beside the stove. We used it in almost everything. Growing up my mom would pop popcorn and she would use butter and just a little bacon drippings to coat the popcorn after is was popped. I hardly eat bacon now. But when I do I always save the drippings.
    Donna A.

  29. Geneva

    In response to Karen’s comment: Cut green beans (I use frozen or fresh) Bring them to a boil, then add a package of dried onion soup, and a little bacon grease; motto being you can always add but you can not take it out. Season to taste. I personally do not like my green beans crispy so I will cook them down quite a bit. You can also add potatos or some chopped tomatoes what ever suits your fancy at the time.
    Unlike Brie we absolutely love the maple flavored bacon; but now I wonder how long the shelf quality is even though I do keep it in the fridge. Thanks alot Brie; although I am still alive I now have some serious doubts. Will someone please tell me I am just being paranoid?
    Bacon fat is also wonderful in baked beans or a good pot of pinto beans. Yeah you guessed it I am from the South.

  30. Lou

    A recipe …. Sorta. When my mother made cornbread, in a cast iron skillet of course, she heated the skillet in the oven with a tablespoon or so of rendered bacon fat. This was then the final addition stirred into the corn bread mixture before it all went in the oven to bake. An old southern tradition rather than the modern day cornbread made with melted butter. Lou

  31. Connie

    My mother also saved and cooked with bacon fat. I do this also. I use it for almost everything, esp good to scramble eggs in,yum. I also use it to make the roux for gumbo.

  32. Michelle

    As for refrigeration… I do. Likely you won’t die if you don’t. People in the South have done it for generations. There have not always been fridges. However it does not keep quite as long on the counter. Any grease exposed to heat for too long will go rank. It is really all about personal preference and how much you use it. It you use it very regular you shouldn’t have a need to refridgerate. But if you are like me and only use it ocasionally for beans and to fry eggs, I keep in the fridge. The bowl I have now I have had almost 2 months and it is still fine. You can smell it if it starts to turn. Also, I don’t strain it because those little crispies in the bottom add a more meaty flavor, in my opinion. Also when I am cooking beans, I put the Bacon in too. Or just use plain old Salt Pork. Crisped ofcourse.

  33. jim

    Try a combo of sliced Yellow Squash and Zucchini along with bacon and onions. I fry the bacon first, remove it, chop it into small bite-sized pieces and add chopped onions to the bacon fat. Saute onions until they become translucent. While the bacon and onions are cooking, I slice the squashes and place them in the microwave long enough to get them “almost cooked.” Finally, the bacon, onion, and squash is all sauted together until sufficiently cooked. Mmmmmm!!!

  34. cab

    Your little jar is so cute!! My sister makes open faced cheese sandwiches with bacon fat: Gently toast slices of bread under broiler. Turn them over. Place a slice of velveeta cheese on each and then drizzle with rendered bacon fat. Broil until cheese is bubbly Top with crumbled bacon. It’s the bacon fat that makes this so delicious.

  35. Sandy

    Like Ramona’s mother-in-law, my mother used bacon grease as the secret ingredient in cookies, only Mom’s were molasses cookies. I recently made them with my grandson and had to render the bacon before we could start. Best flavor, ever.

    PS. He loved dipping the glass in sugar and then “smashing” the dough balls.

  36. Gira

    Like many others have commented, my Mamma kept a jar of bacon grease on the counter too, and always strained it through a twice folded paper towel to help clarify the grease.

    She taught me to always smell grease before I use it. Solid Crisco, liquid Crisco, butter, olive oil, any kind of grease really. If it smells a little off it may be “okay” to use, but you should get a new jug/bottle/container next time you’re at the store. You can tell if it’s gone rancid by sniffing and then you don’t want to use it at all. Substitute some other oil type.

    Green beans fried in bacon grease with fresh bacon bits are the best! Fry the bacon, remove the bacon, add fresh green beans (with the ends removed snapped into pieces) along with some roughly chopped garlic and while it cooks snap the bacon into “bits”. Add the bits in the last minute or two of cooking to warm them up again. Delicious!

  37. melba.norman

    Microwave bacon does not taste the same as fried bacon. My dad use to buy the syrup in the yellow can (really thick syrup) pure cane maple syrup and add a couple of drops of hot bacon drippin in the syrup and sop the bisquets. yuuuuum. I must find that syrup.

  38. Tracy27

    My husband recently caught a 650-lb wild pig in the hills near Los Banos, CA and we ended up with a freezer full of pork, including some super-fatty bacon. I’ve never cooked with bacon grease, but I saved the first batch from Hogzilla, and Oh. My. God. I’m hooked! My favorite use so far has been to boil fingerling potatoes, toss them in enough bacon grease to coat them (doesn’t take much), salt and pepper them and throw them on the grill to get crispy skins. Outstanding.

  39. Garrett

    I use bacon fat in my Maple Bacon Cupcakes, and used it in your Chili con Carne recipe which was shibby good! We usually keep a can of the stuff in the fridge just in case. :)

  40. Melody Elliott-Koontz

    My mom always saved bacon fat..so do I. I use a bit when I make greenbeans..and when I fry eggs and I don’t have bacon. Makes the eggs taste better. I use it when browning some meats for soups, stews, etc.

  41. Kate Smith

    Regarding the cute jar, if you cook a whole pound of bacon, which I do, I empty the skillet of fat between batches. If you grab a cold glass jar and pour in hot fat, they often crack. Keeping a small metal baby spoon in the glass helps take the bulk of the heat. Eventually, I found a ceramic coffee mug with a plastic cover and have used that successfully for many years. I use 1 tsp mixed with 1 Tbsp oil for frying all kinds of things and it’s a great flavor boost!
    (gonna go try it in cookies, now)

  42. bibliochef

    Thnanks for this entry. I have been contemplating making some cupcakes my aunt used to make when I was a kid from a WW II recipe — loads of the ingredients were cheap substitutes then, and bacon fat was one of them. In my memory they were wonderful — and I have never made them because of this issue about bacon fat!

  43. Gary in Massena

    Bacon fat rules!

    Homer: Are you saying you’re never going to eat any animal again? What about bacon?
    Lisa: No.
    Homer: Ham?
    Lisa: No.
    Homer: Pork chops?
    Lisa: Dad, those all come from the same animal.
    Homer: Heh heh heh. Ooh, yeah, right, Lisa. A wonderful, magical animal.

  44. Espahan

    I didn’t see anyone mention bacon fat in pie crust. I combine it with butter. I learned this from my mother who always kept a jar of bacon grease at the back of the stove. I chill the bacon fat before using in my crusts. The flavor is out of this world good.

  45. Sam

    I went to culinary school, and yes pure fat is a preservative, and we learned how to dry and smoke meats, but when you have anything else in it, it is always better to refrigerate it. I don’t like to go more then two (2) weeks in the frig, and if I freeze it six (6) months to a year.

  46. ben

    In the Old Country, we call this American sort of bacon “streaky bacon” and rendering it for fat is about all it’s good for. I don’t understand why European-style bacon is so hard to come by here — it’s the same animal, isn’t it?

    And don’t get me started on “Canadian bacon”, which is some sort of ham I think.

  47. Elise

    Wow, what great suggestions! Thanks everyone, for your comments.

    We tend to produce more bacon fat than we actually use. Once a 8-ounce jar gets filled, we start another jar and throw out the first one. That usually takes a month or two. Usually we keep the jar in the fridge, though sometimes it’s on the counter for a few days. We don’t strain out the browned bits; they’re great for flavor. And we go through the fat so quickly that it doesn’t get rancid.

    Many people keep the bacon fat in the freezer, which is a good idea if you aren’t going to use it up in a month or two.

  48. Kit

    Okay-this may be silly…but I’m Jewish and bacon fat just isn’t an option for me. Are there any other meats I can use to render fat as flavorful? I know it won’t quite be the same.

  49. Elise

    Hi Kit – Yep, bacon fat isn’t exactly Kosher is it? We also use chicken fat for cooking. We usually have plenty of it after making chicken stock. It too is highly flavorful.

  50. Reenbo

    We always have a little container of bacon grease in the fridge, mom grew up in wartime Europe and refuses to waste a thing! One thing I don’t think was mentioned is potatoes. Mom always puts some (a couple of heaping teaspoons…it depends on how many potatoes)in the hash browns she makes…just the plain old store bought ore-ida’s, but there’s nothing better. She’ll slice a half an onion and toss it on them as well. Fried eggs just aren’t the same without them either.

  51. Shirley Willard

    I’ve always hated liver. However, fry some bacon, then when it is done, saute onions in the bacon fat. Finally, dip your liver into flour which has been salted and peppered. Fry in bacon fat and it is almost palatable.

  52. Another Kit

    Karen, I’m glad you asked about recipes. I’d never heard of using bacon grease in cookies or pie crust before.

    I use it any time I saute onions for any dish.

    Elise, your food blog is terrific. It’s the only non-family blog I visit regularly. Thanks for your work that makes it so enjoyable.

  53. Seattle Mom

    I always keep my bacon fat in the freezer just so I don’t ever have to think about how old it is. Some other things I use for are to brown pork chops, fry potatoes, coat pre-roasted root vegetables, saute cabbage (with or without apples and onions) until just browned, and sauteing onions.

    I never thought of using bacon fat in non-savory dishes. I’m going to try popping popcorn in it tonight!

  54. Carol Howell

    I stumbled upon this thread by accident and spent part of my afternoon reading about bacon fat! I always keep a (very) small container of it in the frig, but a lot of the time we forget to use it when we could have. This reading about bacon fat has inspired my dinner for tonight… here’s my menu:

    Cornbread with bacon bits (leftover from last night). I will grease the iron skillet w/bacon fat and bake the cornbread in it.

    Green Beans with bacon fat and bits, yum!

    Baked pork chops with bacon grease in the pan.

    Pan-fried (in bacon grease) potatoes.

    I expect a heart attack sometime after dinner. :)

  55. Carol Howell

    A P.S. to my menu…. Since I already had the oven going, I am baking a whole head of garlic ala Rachael Ray: cut the very tops off, drizzle with olive oil, wrap in foil, bake 425* for 45m, this for tomorrow’s chicken, AND, since I had it, I chopped up some jalapeno peppers to put in the Bacon Cornbread! I can’t wait to eat!!!

  56. lazyman

    Another way to capture the grease?

    Foreman grill. :P

  57. Char

    I always keep bacon grease in a jar. I add a couple spoonfuls when cooking fresh green beans, navy beans, and just about anything that needs a little flavor help. I’ve never used it to grease a cornbread pan, I use lard, but I know my mother use to pour a little over spoonbread before baking and also to fry potato pancakes. It was also used in my mom’s kitchen to fry corn meal mush and and to brown rice for her version of dirty rice. Hmmmm….bacon, chicken livers, pecans, spring onions, rice…so good. I love this sight! I appreciate finding new foods to make and sharing my old recipes with others.

  58. Zanne

    Another good “warm” salad is dark greens, sauteed onions, bacon, blue cheese, dried cranberries, and candied pecans. I always sort of make a combination dressing of the bacon fat and olive oil the onions are sauteed in. You can pour straight on or mix with a little sugar. This concoction is sooo good, I ate it like once a week when I first discovered it.

    Did anyone have a definite answer on how long the bacon fat will keep in the fridge? I have had a container full for a while now (like more than 6 months) and am wondering if I should toss it and start over. It doesn’t smell bad though…
    ?

  59. Gina in GA

    My mom kept all fats (bacon, chicken, EVERYTHING) all in one pot. She said it was wasteful to throw it out. She used a metal coffeepot like used in camping over cookfires. She kept it in a cupboard next to the stove and used it for most of her cooking. She never kept it in the fridge. Looking back, I’m not so sure that was a good idea…

  60. Debbie

    Just ran across this as I was trying to figure out what to do with the Kosher bacon fat I’ve saved from making my Kosher bacon. Yes, I’m a Jew who loves bacon!!!! I don’t make it often, but when I do – YUM!

    I have a Jet Stream Oven, one of those old infomercial contraptions that I cannot live without (can’t even tell you how many I’ve had over the years). Anyhow, I make bacon in there, and it comes out fantastic (flat and crispy). All the fat falls to the tray underneath. Usually I’ll throw it out, but last two times I saved it. This latest batch I filtered it with a coffee filter in to a jar – clear, pure fat – but now, what to do with it all?

    Does anyone know of a good website that has different recipes using bacon fat/grease? I’d like to find a few things to make that only uses a little bit for flavor. As I know it clogs the pipes in the sink, I’m afraid using too much may cause the pipes in my body to clog!

    I’ve been using my dehydrator lately and put the cooked, crisp bacon in there. I’m not sure if it does much than crisp it up a tad more than it is already, but there’s not a hint of any grease at all when it’s done. It’s delish on pizza – made a bacon cheeseburger pizza the other night.

    Anyhow, any suggestions to recipes would be greatly appreciated, if you know of one!

    Thanks!

    I suggest doing a search on Food Blog Search for bacon fat or bacon grease. You’ll find plenty of recipes. ~Elise

  61. Kristen

    I have to say, that with the focus away from fatty foods, bacon has become a four letter word. My dad who grew up in Louisiana, made the best home fries that I have ever had – and the only way you can get that crisp is with bacon fat.

    And an egg fried in bacon, well, it’s unforgettable…

    ~Banned in Boston

  62. Glenda

    A 12-year-old girl invented something called MAKIN’ BACON. Cooks the bacon in the microwave over T-bars inserted in a catch pan and the bacon grease accumulates in the pan. GREAT tasting bacon and great way to harvest the renderings! Pour it out of the corner of the pan into a jar. EasyEasyEasy.

  63. fru

    I would love an expert answer on how long refrigerated bacon fat can be fit for consumption.

    so far i heard 2 month maybe and smell it, you’ll know. Arrrg!

    fru

  64. Paul

    I do bacon fat and I also render chicken fat.

    I peel the skin off of the chicken legs and render it slowly in the pan, while roasting the legs in EVOO and herbs.

    The chicken skin turns to cracklings – YUM! And the fat I store, covered , in the fridge and use for many things! Lasts forever!

    You have not eaten an egg until you have eaten one cooked in chicken fat!

    I also save the beef fat when I roast it and it hardens in the fridge. It is awesome for Yorkshire Pudding or popovers!

    BTW – my total cholesterol is 117! My ‘bad’ cholesterol is 57.

    Rendered fat is good for you!

  65. Tina

    Elise, for shame!!

    “Throw away the jar”??? No, never, never! If your jar is getting a little full, just use a couple spoonfuls to make popcorn. I can’t keep bacon grease in my house at all, considering how much we all like popcorn made with bacon fat.

  66. Jared

    From a cook’s perspective: Onions sauteed in bacon grease is absolutely necessary to start refried beans, and more-or-less necessary for chili. I’ve heard from many old-time sources that pie crusts are best half butter, half lard, but I’ve always been a little scared to try (and my butter crusts turn out very well, thank you).

    From a biochemist’s perspective: Bacon grease will not support microbial growth, so “going bad” and giving food poisoning isn’t something you need to worry about. How long can you keep sugar without it going bad? A lot of microbes can grow on sugar or fat, but they need lots of water to do so. and if you remember your first lesson of chemistry (water and oil don’t mix) your jar of fat is a barren wasteland to microbes looking for home. Sugar on the other hand absorbs water from the air and will eventually grow mold, but this takes a long time. Conclusion: bacon grease is more shelf-stable than sugar.

    The rancidity we hear about is actually a chemical breakdown of the fat or other impurities in the oil. This is much more common in liquid vegetable oils and oils that have already been heated up to very high temperatures (smell a grease trap from a restaurant some day). For some reason, rendered pig fat (bacon grease and lard) and clarified butter (ghee) are very heat stable and don’t go rancid quickly after frying like vegetable oil. This is possibly due to the stabilizing effect of cholesterol.

  67. mary

    Oh Elise! This is an absolutely wonderful post. I just saw the link over at your post about greens. I am so happy to see folks cooking with bacon grease. It is good for you.

    I have to tell you that I was trying to make the chopped chicken liver recipe from the Shiksa in the Kitchen blog but I did not have any schmaltz! You should have seen my butcher’s face when I asked him if I could buy the skin and the fat of the chicken. Boy oh boy…did that make me realize I wasn’t in New York anymore! LOL!

    In any event, I saved up chicken fat and skin each time I made chicken until I had enough to render to get about a cup of schmaltz. Oh how delicious the chopped chicken livers were.

    Thanks again for all the great recipes you share. You’re site is lovely.

    Love and God Bless…and Continued Success,

    Mary

  68. Jeff Axelrod

    From Keeping Food Fresh by Bailey, 1989.

    “For best results, [animal] fats should be rendered for storage. Cut the solid
    fat into cubes and melt it very slowlyin a heavy pan with a small amount of
    water. When the fat is entirely liquid, .strain it through cheesecloth. You
    can line a sieve with the cheesecloth and pour the warm fat through it into
    a wide-mouthed container. Cover the container and refrigerate up to six
    months.

    Any bacon drippings you save should also be strained through cheesecloth.
    Another method is to pour the drippings into a clean glass jar and
    wait for the sediment to sink to the bottom. When the drippings have
    cooled and solidified, you can skim the clear fat off thetop and discard the
    cloudy brown dregs. Store the clear fat, well covered, in the refrigerator
    up to six months.”

    Hi Jeff – I like the browned bits. They’re tasty and they store fine surrounded by the fat. They’re fine to include when using bacon fat for most cooking purposes. Now if you want to render fat for lard, for making pastry crusts, that’s another matter. But for that I wouldn’t use bacon fat, which is salted and smoked, but use pork back fat, or leaf lard, the fat that surrounds the kidneys. ~Elise

  69. Diane McEwen

    My mother always saved Bacon fat & kept it in the fridge. However, when the fat started to look dark she would clean it. I remember her using boiling water & pouring it over so as to push the dark dirty bits through, then once the fat was set again she would pour off any liquid and scrape away the dark mess that had settled underneath. Is this the correct way to clean the fat? I have tried this method but it seems I make it far too soft & it does not look white.

  70. glenda

    I am from Georgia, Im 48 and my parents cooked this way my whole childhood!! Its just how we do it, I agree with lots of posters about the old days, and how no refrigeration was available. It wont kill you, but I agree that if you use is slowly in the frig is best. The bacon flavor adds so much to veggies like sauteed cabbage, squash, rice, you name it. hope this helps. Everything in moderation is a great policy.

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