Monday, April 15, 2019

Saving Meat Fat to Use in Cooking Later -- Would You?

It's now half way through the month, and I'm beginning to get a little concerned about some of our pantry supplies. The one 4-lb jar of peanut butter has about 1/5th of a jar left; we've gone through the vegetable oil faster this month than last; and we have 1 1/2 lbs of butter remaining (not pantry, but info indicating that we can't turn to butter to replace the vegetable oil). We'll make-do on the peanut butter, but the vegetable oil has had me worried. So, I use vegetable oil in baking breads and muffins, making granola and cookies, in stir-fries and sautes, and baking cakes. (This month has 2 birthdays.)  It looks like we have about 2 cups of vegetable oil in the jug. Vegetable oil is on my shopping list for the first of May. So, I am thinking about how to make the vegetable oil stretch.

Next weekend is Easter, and we'll have a ham. I always save ham fat for cooking use -- that should help. Tonight, I'm making meatloaf. Tell me if this is something that you would do. I'm thinking on saving the fat at the bottom of the pan from baking the meatloaf to use in cooking later this week. I've saved ham, bacon, chicken, and even turkey fat, but not ground beef fat. So, this will be new territory for me in the just-how-much-can-I-stretch-the-grocery-budget department. Besides sparing some of the vegetable oil, I'm also attracted to the idea of saving meat fat because it will keep the fat out of the landfill (and not feed the vermin there), it seems like a more responsible way to treat an animal that gave its life for my plate, and it fits my waste-not, want-not ethic. So, what do you think? Barring health reasons not to eat beef fat (and in that case, maybe shouldn't be eating beef at all), would you save fat from meatloaf to use later in cooking? BTW, I'll freeze the fat, so there's no chance of spoilage and making my family sick. A trip to the urgent care clinic would not be frugal at all!

Any input?

30 comments:

  1. Why does saving beef fat seem like something that you maybe shouldn't do? I'm not sure what would be different about saving beef fat over the other meat fats you save now. The meatloaf fat may carry some extra spice or flavors with it, but that could be a bonus, depending how you use it. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't use it in a cake, but stir fries and sauteing sound like a good place to sub it for vegetable oil





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    1. Hi live and learn,
      I think that I just had it in my mind that one just didn't save ground beef fat. Thanks for helping me see my own thoughts better.

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  2. I was thinking along similar lines as L&L. I think it could improve the flavor of some savory dishes.

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    1. Hi Kris,
      I've been thinking that it might add flavor to some bean-based meals. And as Carol said below, the beef fat might be really delicious for browning potatoes. Thanks for your input.

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  3. I absolutely agree with L & L and Kris - I'd use it. About stretching the vegetable oil; a niece of mine substitutes applesauce 100% in place of the oil in baking. I tried that and didn't care for it as it made muffins too soggy. I tried 1/2 oil and 1/2 applesauce and liked that just fine. Good luck and let us know what you decided to do.

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    1. I also sub in 1/2 applesauce for the oil/fat in a baked good recipe, more to reduce calories. I have found that using a total fruit puree makes baked goods rubbery in texture--you need a little fat to achieve the best results--that being said, I've never tried using avocado puree, which would have some natural fats in it, for baking. But since Lili is looking at cost, these substitutions might not be the best answer for her.

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    2. Hi Shirley,
      Thank you. I don't have applesauce right now, but I'll look other possible fat substitutes for baking, like maybe unseasoned mashed potatoes. As for what I did, I saved the fat from the meatloaf and already have used some of it in cooking. This will be our cooking fat for savory dishes this week. So far, so good.

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  4. have saved the fat from beef and have even used it in baking (bread, muffins, biscuits) but I thoroughly clean it first. Strain it while it is in its liquid form then stick it in the freezer. Remove any rogue particles you can see then put the chilled solid beef fat in a pot of water. Bring it to a boil and any remaining sediment will sink. Stick the pot in the fridge to harden the beef fat and pour out the water then repeat the process. This will only work i(n baking ) with plain cooked beef. If it is seasoned it will transfer any seasoning flavors to the baked goods

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    1. Hi Anne,
      Your method is how I purify bacon fat to use in baking. I can remove the smoky flavor from the fat by repeatedly boiling the fat in water, freezing, taking the solid lump of fat and putting in clean water, boil, repeat. I've used this fat in making pie crust with great success. I've only done this with pork fat and no other meats, but in a pinch, I will try this with the beef fat, too.

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  5. People have been rendering lard for years. That is what was done before shortening came along. I have a friend that does that for all the meat she has, and swears her pies are much more flakier than w shortening, etc. Lard can be used for baking or cooking. Google it or contact me and I can give you where I would go. Lisa Basso

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    1. Hi Lisa,
      The pie crusts that I've made with clarified bacon fat have been pretty good. Thank you for reminding me of how good a lard pie pastry can be. I render the fat from hams, to use in cooking, and I'll be doing that after Easter.

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  6. I've saved beef fat (tallow) in desperate times. Imparts a wonderful flavor to home fried potatoes, a mirepoix for a soup, etc. FTR: back in the day, McDonald's used to fry their French fries in tallow. Use it in cooking, look for alternatives to oil in baking such as apple sauce, prune puree, banana puree (I've very successfully used banana). Consider alternative cooking methods: steam veg vs saute or use chicken or other broths as examples of what I mean.Do you have any solid shortening like Crisco? it can be melted down to use as an oil in baking.

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    1. https://www.forksoverknives.com/plant-based-cooking-how-to-cook-without-oil/#gs.5y0tf0

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    2. Thank you, Carol. Hearing that you've used the saved beef fat is helpful. And I'll use the solid shortening, too. That will spare the butter for spreading on toast or bread.

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  7. Don't take this wrong but I'm wondering about using so much oil. I rarely get through a bottle of oil. I don't use it in stir fry since I cook the meat first perhaps in just 1/2 tsp of oil and that leaves some meat fat to cook the veggies in. Granted, I don't bake sweets hardly anymore and bread takes very little.

    I agree that applesauce works really well in baked goods. And, yes, save the fat from other foods you cook esp. good for savory items but I wouldn't know about sweet foods. I also keep that in the freezer. Bacon fat is our favorite. CTMOM has some good ideas for substitutions.

    Alice

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    1. Hi Alice,
      you wondered at the amount of oil that we are using. Actually, I had thought that we had more than enough to get through April, so it surprised/worried me when I saw the jug as low as it is. I think that all of this cooking and baking completely from scratch is using up the oil. I use oil in sandwich bread, making stove-top popcorn, baked desserts and quick breads, starting sauces and soups ( ie oil in white sauce instead of butter), making bean spreads for sandwiches, added to plain yogurt to make a mayonnaise substitute, the fat component in various side dishes as well as the many bean-based main courses, etc. I don't have any applesauce or bananas to puree to use in place of oil right now. What I do have, besides the 1 1/2 lbs butter, and 2 cups of oil is solid shortening. The solid shortening is cheaper per pound than butter, so I will use it in some baking this month.

      This month is different from some months in that I have several obligations for bringing/preparing food. I have coffee hour service at the end of the month, where I bring 5 dozen or more cookies/treats. I have a dinner this week that I am to bring a chicken casserole to feed 8 to 10, I am hosting Easter dinner, and we have 2 birthdays, for which we'll do 2 small cakes on the birthday, and one main cake on the day we have lunch out. In thinking through all of the above, I can see, based on my family's past use of oil, it may not be enough. This is something that I've laid awake in the night trying to find a solution. 2 family members actually need a higher fat diet, so I don't want to reduce their fat intake at all.

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    2. You have clarified your use of oils and fats. I can see you do way more baking and cooking than I do these days. As I was reflecting back a few years, I do believe I also used more oil while keeping my family of 5 fed with all home cooked and home baked goodies. You still have kids home and I see you do a lot of bringing goodies out. Yes, I can for sure see you need more oil with all those goodies. I wish you live closer so I could give you so many things that I know I can't use!

      Alice

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    3. Lili, just a thought--I don't remember how many eggs you have, but could you consider making meringues for your cookies/treats? They are just made of egg whites, sugar, salt, and cream of tartar (and I've successfully made them without the last ingredient). I think they look festive--you could make variations with cocoa powder or food coloring--and certainly frugal!

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    4. Thank you, Alice. I think I'm still in the thick of baking and cooking from scratch with my family. Thankfully, family members are pitching in with much of the cooking, so it doesn't all fall on my shoulders.

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    5. Kris, thank you, thank you. Yes, I can definitely make meringues! One of my favorite meringues uses almond extract and coconut. They're slightly chewy, like a coconut macaroon, but lighter. And they don't use any oil or other fat, so these are definitely very doable for that event. I've also done cocoa with chocolate chips, very yummy, too. Maybe one other variety, like chopped candied cherries (still have some fruitcake cherries in the fridge), and a bit of red food coloring for pink meringues. That might be enough variety, both in flavor and appearance. Thank you again for the suggestion. It is a huge help.

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  8. I use beef fat in cooking all the time. Fat from ground beef is great in savory dishes.

    I am someone who believes beef and animal fat are good for you. I was a vegetarian for many years, and had problems with depression and seasonal affective disorder. My doctor told me to start eating meat again, and to use butter and lard/tallow. My depression and SAD pretty much disappeared. Of course, everyone is different, but it made a huge difference for me.

    - Tina

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    1. Hi Tina,
      As, I mentioned above, 2 of my family members need to eat more fats for their mental and physical health. That's really interesting about the link you found between depression and vegetarian diet. Years' ago, I mentioned one of my daughters struggled with an eating disorder. What many people don't know is eating disorders are brain-based diseases, not just vanity. The brain needs saturated fats to operate well. One of the recommendations with eating disorders is to increase fats, in particular, animal fats, through adding butter, drinking whole milk, and eating a varied diet that includes animal flesh. So, it's interesting to hear that you found relief from depression and SAD after adding the meat and animal fat to your diet. Thanks for relating this.

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    2. Also, and please correct me if I am wrong: isn't there a higher rate of SAD in the Pacific NW where you are, due to lack of sunshine?

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    3. Yes, Carol. We have so many sunless days here, that SAD seems to be a real concern for many (including myself). In addition to providing the fats needed by the brain, having fat in a diet likely helps the body absorb vitamin D from dietary sources when there's no sunshine.

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  9. Thanks to all of you for your input.
    I'll back up, first, and say that you know, I think I was thinking about the "health" of using beef fat. McDonalds was heavily criticized for using beef fat to fry their French fries, and Hostess was equally criticized for using beef fat in the Twinkies. That all just made me think (in the back of my mind) that using beef fat would somehow be worse than other animal fats. Then, I began thinking about all of the bean-based meals that we are eating now, at least 3 per week. If I added a little bit of the beef fat to a bean-based dish, it cannot be any worse than serving a beef dish for dinner that night, right?

    So, what I did last night -- I saved the fat in a small container. There were about 2 1/2 to 3 tablespoons of fat from a 1-lb + 80/20 beef meatloaf. I used a spoonful to saute the cabbage and onions that we had as a vegetable side dish. It didn't seem to alter the flavor at all. The rest of the fat will be used in savory cooking over the next few days to week. The rest of our dinner last night was fairly lean. We had the veggie and beef meatloaf (spinach, onions, seasoned tomato paste mixed in with the beef and bread crumbs), mashed potatoes made with 1% milk, no butter, and topped with gravy made from a packet (no added oil or fat), and the sauteed cabbage and onion. My husband, the thin guy that he is, was still hungry, so he sopped up any leftover drippings in the meatloaf pan with some bread.

    Thanks again for your input.

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    1. I think it was a year or two ago that we had a blog conversation about different fats to cook with--that's when canola oil was being held under the microscope, so to speak. Your comment at that time was that you use a variety of fats in cooking and baking. I thought at the time that was wise advice, and I still think that! The science/medical community goes back and forth on certain foods (fats, eggs .... ) and what is healthy and not healthy. I'm sticking with a diet of moderation and trying to prepare my own food as much as I reasonably can and calling it good. :)

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    2. I'm so glad that you saved the meatloaf fat! I see it as a treasure that's much harder to come by than vegetable oil or even butter! I worked in a fancy bistro for a while, and we went so far as to advertise that our French fries were cooked in beef fat (they were called "tallow fries" on the menu)!

      And at home, as something who doesn't purchase or each much meat because I don't love supporting the industries, I save every little bit I do cook, because the animals died for us. As for the health concerns, everything in moderation right? Your family seems to similarly not rely on meat as much as the average household, so I don't see the harm.

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    3. Lili, I believe it's a matter of everything in moderation, unless there is a medical restriction. With the very healthful eating plan that you offer your family (Lots of veg, limited animal protein/fats, etc) a bit of animal fat, regardless of which animal it is sourced from, won't hurt, IMO.

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    4. Kris, Allie, and Carol, yes, you're all very right about moderation being the key to a healthy diet. I need to keep reminding myself of that. It does seem that popular opinion swings back and forth and all over the map, as far as what is good, bad, etc. Best to just stick with moderation of everything. Thank you!

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  10. I don't see why you couldn't use it. I add it to the dogs food and she loves it. I personally don't like ground beef except a little in tacos. I always use the bacon and ham fat for cooking. My potato soup recipe calls for it. It is also a very old recipe so that could be part of it.

    I reuse oil from frying french fries and such. My mom did it and I always have. We have never had a problem.

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I'm so glad that you stopped by today. Please comment, and let me know what you're thinking.