Saving Grease

You have cooked something delicious and extremely fatty, like bacon, pork belly, or duck. You’ve managed not to burn anything, so there is liquid gold sitting at the bottom of the pan or roasting dish. What do you do? Pour it down the sink and destroy your plumbing? Soak it up with paper towels and throw it in the green bin? Or do you ride the eco-gourmet wave to dizzying heights and pull out the mason jar?

Saving grease is a great way to reduce waste, get even more use out of your food, and infuse future dishes with tasty flavour. I’m a huge believer in cooking with leftover grease to the point that a friend’s impression of me was just saying “have you ever fried eggs in bacon fat? It’s SOOO GOOOOOD!”, which was hurtful and accurate. Throwing out good grease is wasteful, and wasting food should be one of the 7 deadly sins.

What You’ll Need

  • Mason jar or other food-safe tight-closing container
  • Mason jar funnel
  • Small fine-mesh sieve
  • Paper coffee filter
  • Labels – I use Frog Tape and a Sharpie. Frog Tape brand in particular will stick to anything, which is useful since most things are kind of greasy or damp in a kitchen.
  • Pyrex measuring cup

Let’s Do it!

  1. Let the contents of the pan or dish cool down a bit before pouring into the Pyrex measuring cup. These are heat-proof, so they likely won’t shatter on impact (unlike mason jars, apparently). Pouring hot grease is dangerous work, so let it cool down, but not so much that it’s no longer liquidy.
  2. Let everything go to room temperature, put in the fridge. The fat will rise to the top, leaving any juices or food bits on the bottom. The bottom stuff is great for adding to sauces or making gravy (WASTE NOTHING).
  3. Once the fat has congealed, scrape it out of the Pyrex into a microwaveable bowl or small saucepan. I found that pork fat will usually pop off in one big chunk, but poultry grease stays soft and paste-like.
  4. Heat up the fat in the microwave or the stovetop until it’s liquid again.
  5. Take your mason jar and put the funnel in it, followed by the coffee filter, then the small strainer. I made sure the strainer holds the coffee filter to the funnel, so that it doesn’t collapse into the funnel hole. You can also use a regular, small funnel for this.
  6. Pour the grease into the strainer which will take out any big chunks. The coffee filter will take out any sediment that somehow made it through the above processes.
  7. It might take an hour for all the grease to make its way through the filter, but once it’s done, you have tasty grease to fry or sauté literally anything in.
  8. Label with the contents and date, if you’re worried about grease going bad. I’m always cooking bacon, so I keep adding to the same jar.

Safety Notes

  • Keep the grease in the fridge. I just scrape some out with a butter knife when I need it.
  • I don’t know how long grease lasts, but I’ve never been sick from using it. I keep dates on my poultry grease just in case. If it’s beyond 6 months, I’ll give it a sniff and toss it if it smells off.
  • If there are cracks in the grease, it has gone bad. Cracks come from gas created by the decomposition process, or so I’ve been told.

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